Conditions may be more Favorable in 2006
An editorial in The Day suggested that Joe Courtney is considering running again in 2006. This would make for an interesting matchup. Would that be good for Democrats?
Let's go to the maps.
Here we can see the second district congressional election in 2002 (left) and 2004 (right). Notice something? Yes, they look almost entirely the same. In fact, the 2004 election was similar in many ways to its predecessor. Yet the circumstances surrounding the two elections couldn't have been more different.
2002 was a year of Republican gains nationwide, and Connecticut followed that trend to a degree. A popular Republican governor headed the ticket, and won by a respectable margin. 2004 was a year that favored Democrats in Connecticut, however. John Kerry won the state by a comfortable margin, and especially did well in the towns of the second congressional district. To illustrate my point, here is how the men at the top of the ticket did in 2002 (top) and 2004 (bottom):
Yet this massive voting shift left the second district mostly untouched. That could mean a few different things:
1. Courtney did very well considering the climate in 2002, and would do even better in a more Democrat-friendly climate in 2006.
2. Sullivan was simply a lousy candidate. He had a very friendly climate, and yet lost. Democrats did very well at both the statewide and local levels in the second district (see the state house and senate maps) but Sullivan couldn't deliver.
3. All things being equal, voters favor incumbents.
4. Neither Courtney and Sullivan had what it took to compete with Simmons. Neither one could win in otherwise-Democratic towns like Enfield.
5. Simmons's campaign strategy of promising to use his influence to save the sub base and Electric Boat paid off. Notice the subtle shift in his support towards the southeast--towards the Groton area. Therefore, the closing of the sub base would certainly mean the loss of these vital towns--and a probable defeat for Simmons in 2006.
In fact, I suspect that all of these things are true to a certain extent. They are also interrelated. For example, #4 will be negated if the condition in #5 is met; namely, the loss of the sub base.
I believe that #3, however, is the strongest political force in the state. It will take a major economic crisis, such as the closure of the sub base or something else of similar impact, for this to be overturned.
Source "Courtney Circling Again". New London Day 21 March, 2005. (registration required)
Update 3/24 The Journal Inquirer has confirmed that Courtney is running again.