NEW CANAAN, Conn. — Even in one of Connecticut’s most Republican towns, Sen. Barack Obama managed to woo a few faithful elephants.
The town, with its tree-lined streets, low-lying stone walls and white picket fences, has historically voted Republican: Four years ago, current President George W. Bush ’68 led John Kerry ’66 in the town by a margin of 61 to 39. Although individuals interviewed said they expected New Canaan to remain true to the GOP this year, everyone seemed to know at least one staunch Republican who would not be voting for Sen. McCain.
“My neighbor has been voting Republican for as long as I can remember,” resident Judy Dunn, a Democratic volunteer said, “though this year he said he is voting for Obama.”
Among those voters interviewed, supporters of the McCain-Palin ticket cited national security and financial “issues” as their primary concerns and one voter added she and her friends “just like McCain.” But for some, the promise of change drew them to the Obama ticket.
While most of the students working at the New Canaan High School polling place interviewed said they were Republicans, they also said that they believed they were in the minority.
“I’m very Republican, though I think most high school students are Democratic,” senior Reed Bratches said. “I attribute it to them being uninformed.”
But it was Obama — not McCain — who last week won the high school’s mock election.
Members of New Canaan’s Democratic Party interviewed said that, even in such a Republican town, Obama’s message of change had struck a chord.
“I think Obama is going to do really well here,” said Anne Marie Sutton, a lifelong Democrat and Election Day volunteer. “I think his message has really resonated.” Sutton added that Obama was the way of the future, and McCain of the past.
Nevertheless, people “still make fun” of Democrats in New Canaan, Sutton said, though she added that politics in general are a “friendly competition in a place like this [since] the Republicans always think they’re going to win everything.”
Regardless of where their loyalties lay, as expected, voters turned out to the polls in record numbers and moved efficiently through both of the town’s two polling locations, the high school and SAXE Middle School.
“Turnout was the highest I have ever seen by far,” said Dan Ward ’55, the SAXE Middle School polling moderator for New Canaan’s third district.
While Yalies who went to vote at the New Haven Public Library were filed into a small basement room with relatively few voting booths, New Canaan residents walked into spacious gymnasiums outfitted with at least 11 voting booths where lists of voters had been compiled alphabetically by street name.
After doing their civic duty, voters and volunteers alike were welcome to partake in a free soup, sandwich and salad spread.
The town’s election moderators, Robert Shafter and George Cody, did not respond to requests for comment.
New Canaan was established in 1801, has a median household income of $178,651 and is 93 percent white.