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What If They Held A Primary And Nobody Showed Up To Vote? Big Fears In Connecticut

As Little As 20% Of Registered Voters May Decide Who Runs For Senate Seat
People vote in Milford, CT (file / credit: Christopher Capozziello/Getty Images)

People vote in Milford, CT (file / credit: Christopher Capozziello/Getty Images)

STAMFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — You’ve seen the ads on television. On Tuesday, Connecticut voters will go to the polls to select candidates – a Democrat and a Republican — to run for retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman’s seat in November.

But as CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer found out on Monday, there are big fears of very low voter turnout. For example, there were no political posters on the streets of Stamford, the fourth largest city in Connecticut. There were no posters or leaflets at the train station, either, nothing to indicate that Tuesday is primary day.

WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau On The Story

When asked if he planned on voting Tuesday, Darien resident Fred Tuccinardi told Kramer, “No. I’m not interested.”

“The last time I voted I’m ashamed to say, [John F.] Kennedy was president,” added Gertrude Davis of Stamford.

“Gee, I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. You’ve given me an idea to think about it,” Jeffrey Kirshner added.

For the record, Democrats will get to choose between Congressman Chris Murphy and former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz. The Republican field includes former wrestling executive Linda McMahon and former congressman Chris Shays.

Gary Rose, a professor of politics and government at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, said he’s not surprised by the electoral ennui.

“It’s taking place on Aug. 14, which is a vacation week for people. The interest of a good many voters is not there when it comes to this particular primary. Their interests right now are more associated with baseball, the Olympics, vacation time,” Rose said.

On the Democratic ticket, Rep. Murphy has the party endorsement, while challenger Bysiewicz does not. In the Republican primary, McMahon has the party nod; Shays does not.

And that could affect the outcome because on the Connecticut ballot the party choice is designated by an asterisk.

“That does carry some weight, particularly because we have close primaries in Connecticut,” Rose said.

EXTRA: WCBS 880 Connecticut U.S. Senate Focus: Democrats | Republicans

Rose told WCBS 880s’ Fran Schneideau that candidates with little cash, like Shays and Bysiewicz, have been forced to rely on grass roots efforts to get the word out.

But, he added, that might not be a bad thing.

“The best way to get out the vote is still face-to-face contact because campaign commercials might actually have a deleterious effect on voter turnout in terms of their negativity,” Rose told WCBS 88o’s Schneidau.

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CBS NEW YORK DIGITAL DEBATE: CT. DEMOCRATS
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Rose said Shays relies a lot on face-to-face contact.

“He’s hoping that when they meet him and his volunteers and they learn more about him that he can stage what really would be the upset of the century,” Rose said.

All of the candidates are prepared for a low turnout election, but the big question is whether it will be so low it will be more like a friends and families sale at the local department store.

The polls in Connecticut open Tuesday at 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Rose said low turnout could mean the election will be decided by just 20 percent of voters.

Will you vote tomorrow? Sound off below …