Here is a map of the 4th District (Shays) contrasting the 2002 election (top) with the 2004 election (bottom):
Quite the opposite of the 2nd District map, this map shows the 4th district in a high state of flux. Shays won a very tight race in 2004, in contrast to an easy victory in 2002.
Here are some possible conclusions about the differences between the two campaigns that we can draw from the map:
1. Shays's popularity is heading downhill, fast. This could be a combination of a lot of factors. The fact that he has become known as something of a maverick may have helped him, as he did somewhat better (by about 10,000 votes) than President Bush in his district, but it may also have alienated a portion of his base in some of the most conservative towns in the state. He obviously had no trouble with his base in 2002.
2. Voters voted party line twice. Most interestingly, the results of these two elections seem to track with the results for the candidates at the top of the ticket in these years. If you note the 2002 Governor's race map and the 2004 presidential race map, you will see that there are a lot of similarities to the congressional race for corresponding years.
3. The incumbent rule was in effect both times, but to different degrees. The incumbent rule: All things being equal, voters tend towards the incumbent. This may have saved Shays in 2004, although in 2006 the incumbent rule may not be in effect at all. Conclusion #4, if true, guarantees that all things will not be equal in 2006, and that a demographic shift is underway.
4. District 4 may be trending Democratic. This is remarkable, considering the district's long history of supporting Republicans (the area was home to the Bush clan half a century ago). The 2004 presidential, state senate and state representatives maps bear this out. There are now Democratic footholds in parts of District 4 that lie outside of Bridgeport. This could be a symptom of the disillusionment of old guard, New England Republicans with the national party, which is now dominated by southerners and westerners.
5. Farrell was a much, much stronger candidate than Sanchez. She had a wider appeal.
None of this looks good for Shays, especially if (as is rumored) Diane Farrell runs again. A danger sign for Shays might be a flood of Democrats elected to municipal office in traditionally Republican areas this fall. We'll be watching closely.