The Connecticut Primary Is Only Kinda Important

Most states have already held their primaries or caucuses, but there are still a few stragglers, and a couple of them will be voting Tuesday. One is Connecticut, which has more or less been ignored by the media this cycle. Has that lack of attention been warranted? Is Connecticut's primary important?

For the Democrats, not really. This isn’t intended as a dig at the good people of Connecticut, but given the state of the race, it really is practically irrelevant. It’s not because the state is too small — it's worth 71 delegates, which is a medium-sized haul in the Democratic race. It’s because Hillary Clinton’s lead is so strong that she’ll continue being the heavy favorite to win the party's nomination regardless of what happens there. Even if she loses the state in a landslide to Bernie Sanders, it wouldn’t be nearly enough to put her in legitimate trouble.

On the Republican side, it’s a different story. The biggest question in the GOP primary right now is whether Donald Trump will win enough delegates to avoid a contested convention. Right now, he’s on the razor’s edge of clearing the threshold. He has little room for error, and if he fails to win 1,237 delegates and the convention is contested, he can kiss the nomination goodbye. All of this will still be the case when Connecticut voters head to the polls. The race is so close now that, from a mathematical standpoint, every state matters. Any of the remaining states have the potential to deliver the nomination to Trump, or to deprive him of it, and Connecticut is no different.

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Trump should be pleased, then, that he’s polling about 20 points ahead of the other Republicans in Connecticut. He’ll need every win he can get between now and the convention, and Connecticut is probably going to give him one. On the Democratic side, Clinton is the favorite to win Connecticut, although her seven-point lead isn’t nearly as robust as Trump’s.

All of this being said, there’s really only one big prize remaining for either party, and that’s California. The biggest state in the country is worth 172 delegates for Republicans and 548 (!) for Democrats. That makes it a high priority even for Clinton, whose delegate lead could be wiped away overnight if she managed to lose the state in a landslide.

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It should be noted that Connecticut’s largely irrelevant role in the primary is solely the result of it voting relatively late in the process. If Connecticut held its primary in February, you can bet it would receive every bit of attention that New Hampshire or Iowa does. But it votes in April, and the primaries are usually just about over at that point. The state could play an important role in the Republican primary this year, but that’s more a consequence of this insane, historically anomalous Republican primary than anything particular about Connecticut.