My conservative cousin from New York, who has been following politics even longer than I have, recalls the Connecticut Senate election of 1956 between the father of Chris Dodd and the father of George H.W. Bush:
Your post comparing Chris Dodd and his father brought back memories of the first election that I was able to seriously follow. In 1956, Congressman Tom Dodd ran for the Senate against the incumbent Senator Prescott Bush, W’s grandfather. Dodd nearly won despite the Eisenhower landslide. If memory serves me, there was a law in Connecticut banning the sale of contraceptives. That law was later ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the infamous Griswold v. Connecticut decision.
Leaflets were distributed in Catholic churches throughout the state before the election denouncing Bush for his supposed support of repealing this law and legalizing abortion. I believe that this Bush was somehow involved with Planned Parenthood! How things have changed.
On Election Day many socially conservative Polish and Italian voters in Eastern Connecticut split their vote going for Eisenhower and Dodd. Bush won narrowly by sweeping the then patrician WASP precincts of Fairfield County, the wealthiest of New York City’s suburbs.
Fast forward to 2006, Ned Lamont wins Fairfield County capturing the vote of the same kinds of voters who went for Prescott Bush, while “Independent Democrat” Joe Lieberman survives by garnering the ethnic precincts of Eastern Connecticut.
Voting patterns have changed considerably since 1956. Only the Jewish vote, it seems, remains frozen in time, though even it may have behaved differently in the 2006 Connecticut Senate race.