Politics-as-usual ended Oct. 29 when the snow started falling.
The unusual October snowstorm and the widespread power failures it caused ruined the traditional get-out-the-vote push in the last week before Election Day.
"I campaigned door-to-door Saturday until the snow got too heavy," incumbent Wethersfield town council candidate Jeff Kotkin said. "A few concerned voters told me to be sure I got home safely."
He did. Since then, Kotkin said, he's been too busy to do any more campaigning — that's because he works at Northeast Utilities, which has had its own storm problems to deal with.
Last Sunday, he pitched in with other officials to set up Wethersfield's emergency shelter. John Console, also seeking re-election to the Wethersfield council, has spent time helping at the shelter this week "as a volunteer, not as a candidate." The storm, he said, disrupted "a final blitz to go door-to-door in certain areas."
It's a similar story statewide. The snow and blackouts stopped the campaign train in its tracks.
With more than half of Waterbury without electricity after the storm, any candidate hoping to switch to phone-calling when door-knocking got too hazardous was out of luck, said Patrick Hayes, a city school board incumbent seeking re-election said Wednesday.
"Everything is on computer these days and a lot of people have phone service bundled with their computer providers, so you couldn't call them because there's no service," he said. "It looks like we may have a few days to go out before Election Day. All sides will likely make a big push."
Simsbury First Selectwoman Mary Glassman, who is seeking re-election, said Wednesday she has suspended her campaign to focus on the safety of residents.
"We've canceled all political door-knocking, political fundraising, political fliers — we've canceled everything.
"We've basically stopped campaigning and are focusing on giving our residents the help that they need. We're operating the shelter 24 hours a day, meeting with our emergency operations center daily. We're just running the shelter — sleeping at town hall, doing whatever we can do," she said.
In Southington, the Democratic Party has done much the same. Anthony D'Angelo, the party's campaign manager, said that this weekend the main message the party will deliver is to remind people to vote.
How Will Voters React?
The impact of such an unprecedented impediment to last-minute campaigning is hard to decode for local elections, which usually see the lowest turnout.
Two years ago, 36 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the November municipal election. The tide could recede even further on Tuesday as voters across Connecticut cast ballots in towns and cities that are still recovering from the storm, and in some cases, still don't have electricity.
"Voting in local, off-year elections is already a pretty low priority for the average voter. If you don't have power, water, or heat, it's going to fall even farther down your list of priorities,'' said Vincent G. Moscardelli, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Connecticut.
"So while it's certainly possible that voters could take out their frustrations on local officials, it seems to me that the voters most likely to do so — that is, the ones who still don't have power — are also the ones who are least likely to turn out in these circumstances."
Traditionally, low turnout benefits incumbents, and closing or moving polling places because of storm damage or power failures would guarantee that fewer people will show up to vote.