Susan Bysiewicz made it official this morning: Courtney the winner by 90 votes. Geez.
I would be surprised if Simmons does not concede this afternoon. The only reason he might have to continue would be if there was some sort of serious election violation we're not hearing about.
So why did Courtney win? What tipped the scales? In a win this close, there are a lot of factors to consider:
1. GOTV efforts were crucial. Turnout in Mansfield, where UCONN is, was especially high. In 2002, the last midterm election, 4,668 voters turned out in Mansfield: 6,150 turned out this year. Almost all of the increase in votes went to Courtney. Courtney also managed to pick up votes in towns previously won by Simmons, including Enfield and his hometown of Vernon.
2. The Lamont effect. At least part of the increase in Democratic votes in Mansfield must be attributed to the excitement surrounding the Lamont campaign. Mansfield was one of the few towns were Lamont carried a majority of votes: he won by nearly 30% there.
3. National issues. The war in Iraq and the detainee bill weighed Rob Simmons down, as did the "R" after his name. People were in a mood to punish Republicans this year.
4. Joe Courtney. He is a modest, moderate, thoughtful and independent man--much like his opponent, Rob Simmons. He's the kind of politician the independents in this district like, and he presented himself as a very credible and acceptable alternative to Simmons. This is quite possibly where Diane Farrell failed.
All that said, this could have obviously gone the other way without too much trouble. I have to wonder if there are 100 Republicans out there who didn't vote kicking themselves this morning.