During the presidential election two years ago, when overall turnout was higher, Farrell won by a 14,000-vote margin out of about 34,000 cast in the heavily Democratic city where Shays lives in the Black Rock section. This time, with just 20,000 votes cast, Farrell drew 10,000 fewer total votes and got only 7,000 votes more than Shays.
Orman also said U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman's run as an independent against endorsed Democrat Ned Lamont may have benefited Shays. "Lieberman confused a lot of people," Orman said, drawing votes from Lamont and Republican Alan Schlesinger.
Shays and Lieberman, both moderates under attack for their support of the Iraq war, may have been viewed as a "respected, endangered species," Orman said, in a district that probably had the most intense anti-war sentiment in the country. Moderate voters may have reasoned, "if you save Joe Lieberman, you're going to save Chris Shays," he said.
Monika McDermott, a polling expert at the University of Connecticut's Center for Survey Research and Analysis, said Shays may have succeeded in taking the bite out of Farrell's main campaign issue.
"The only message Farrell kept hammering away at was Iraq," McDermott said. "What Shays managed very deftly to do during the campaign was to neutralize her by changing his position [to be more critical of the war]," without having it look like a flip-flop.
"He came across as very contemplative on the issue," she said. "His reputation as an independent thinker and not a slave to his party, helped him do it credibly."
My biggest problem with the Farrell campaign was that she never came out strong for Lamont or DeStefano, or even Joe Lieberman. Her campaign tried to have it both ways, and in the end I think voters saw right through that. Even if people don't agree with your feelings about a ticket they like knowing where you stand. Lieberman/Shays may have caused some confusion, but I think Farrell only added fuel to that fire.
The robo calls didn't help either. I heard several complaints about them from people who thought they were coming from Diane.
Shays also deserves credit for pulling a Lieberman on the Iraq war. The change in rhetoric was effective, and much as I hate to admit this Democrats weren't prepared for the change. Shays truly is a skilled politician.
The question I'm left with is can a Democrat win in the 4th district? And who would you like to see attempt it next?
Lang, Joel. "Farrell's Focus On Iraq Failed". Hartford Courant. 11/9/06