Connecticut ranks fairly highly regarding civic and political engagement.  Read on for some statistics and insights about the level of civic engagement, political engagement and a “state of the state” overview of Connecticut.


Connecticut: Civic and Political Engagement

According to Volunteering America, for Connecticut in 2015:

  • 29.3% of residents volunteer, ranking them 18th among the 50 states and Washington, DC.
  • 1,200,713 volunteers
  • 35.1 volunteer hours per capita
  • 143.55 million hours of service
  • $3.5 billion of service contributed
  • 59.6% of residents donate $25 or more to charity

In looking at political engagement specifically, according to this Wallethub.com study, Connecticut ranked #24 based on a weighted average across the following metrics:

  • Percentage of Registered Voters in the 2012 Presidential Election
  • Percentage of Electorate Who Actually Voted in the 2014 Midterm Elections
  • Percentage of Electorate Who Actually Voted in the 2012 Presidential Election
  • Change in Percentage of Electorate Who Actually Voted in the 2012 Elections Compared with the 2008 Elections
  • Total Political Contributions per Adult Population
  • Civic Education Engagement, CIRCLE
  • Voter Accessibility Policies, Ballotpedia

The study also found blue states tend to be more politically engaged than red states.

Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Center for Responsive Politics, Ballotpedia and Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, CIRCLE.


Women in Connecticut Politics:

Six women serve in Connecticut’s  fourteen-position state executive offices, equaling approximately 43%.

  • Denise L. Napier, Connecticut Treasurer – bio
  • Denise Merill, Connecticut Secretary of State – bio
  • Dianna Wentzell, Connecticut Commissioner of Education – bio
  • Katharine Wade, Connecticut Commissioner of Insurance – bio
  • Katie Scharf Dykes, Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority – bio
  • Nancy Wyman, Connecticut Lieutenant Governor – bio

51 women hold seats in the 187-member Connecticut State Legislature  – 42 in the House and 9 in the Senate. This equals 27.3% of the legislature. (Source: NCSL)

Connecticut ranked 34th best state in women’s equality – based on workplace environment (pay, unemployment and entrepreneurship rate disparity), education environment (education levels and math and reading scores), and political empowerment (disparity in elected offices). (Source: Wallethub)


What color is Connecticut?

According to Gallup,  Connecticut is a “Solid Democratic” state (Gallup, based on 2015 data).  Connecticut has seven electoral votes.  The state “has gone through periods where it primarily voted Republican. However, it has gone Democrat for the last seven elections, and is not currently considered a battleground state. In 2016, Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump by about 13.5%,” according to 270towin.


State of the State

State Government Structure

The Connecticut General Assembly is the bicameral state legislature of Connecticut, made up of the Connecticut House of Representatives and Connecticut State Senate.  The House of Representatives has 151 members and the Senate has 36.

During even-numbered years, the General Assembly is in session from February to May. In odd-numbered years, when the state budget is completed, session lasts from January to June.

After the 2016 election, Connecticut became one of six Democratic state government trifectas, meaning the Democratic party in Connecticut holds the governorship and a majority in the state house and state senate.

Members of both the Connecticut House and Senate serve two-year terms, with no term limits.  Each House member represented an average of 23,670 residents as of the 2010 Census.  Each Senate member represented an average of 99,280 residents as of the 2010 Census.


Composition of the Connecticut State House

Composition of the Connecticut State Senate

Budget Process

The state operates on a biennial budget cycle. The sequence of key events in the budget process is as follows:

  1. Budget instructions are sent to state agencies in July.
  2. State agencies submit their budget requests to the governor in September.
  3. Agency hearings are held in January.
  4. Public hearings are held from February through June.
  5. The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the state legislature in February.
  6. The legislature adopts a budget in May or June. A simple majority is required to pass a budget.

Connecticut is one of 44 states in which the governor has line item veto authority.

The governor is legally required to submit a balanced budget. Likewise, the legislature must adopt a balanced budget.


How Connecticut Rates in Terms of Business Climate

A CNBC study ranks Connecticut #33  in terms of overall business climate:

Source: CNBC Snapshot, Link to methodology


How Connecticut Ranks in Freedom

Connecticut ranks #45 in Cato Institute’s Freedom in the 50 states. The overall freedom ranking is a combination of personal and economic freedoms. The report recommends the following policy recommendations:   

  • Fiscal:Cut individual income taxes, which are much higher than average.  Housing and “miscellaneous” government spending categories are higher than the national average and could likely be trimmed.
  • Regulatory: Enact statewide restrictions on eminent domain and the ability of local communities to impose building limits, minimum lot sizes, and other mechanisms of racial and income exclusion.
  • Personal: Reduce the incarceration rate by reducing maximum sentences and eliminating mandatory minimums for nonviolent crimes.



Additional Resources

  • PEW Fiscal 50: State Trends and Analysis
  • PEW women in leadership – see analysis of women in leadership on a national scale
  • National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) Fall 2016, an update of state fiscal conditions
  • Compare 50 – pick what stats you want to compare with what states here
  • State Data Lab – compare a variety of factors among states here
  • Freedom in the 50 States – Cato
  • Tax Foundation facts and figures app is available for download



What You Can Do

As detailed above, Connecticutians have expansive potential for engaging in civic-minded and fiscally responsible activity.  By forming Policy Circles across the state, women can lead the way in ensuring that policies are working and responding to individual needs at the local level.


Here’s what you can do:   

  • Click “It’s easy, start now” at www.thepolicycircle.org  to start a circle in your area.  
  • Read our “Year of Conversation” for an overview of policy briefs on key issues affecting the country and your state.
  • Connect with The Yankee Institute, your state think tank and best resource for state level information on key policy issues.  
  • Tell a friend or family member about The Policy Circle by sending them to www.thepolicycircle.org.   Any woman who believes in the power of free markets to unleash human creativity can start a Policy Circle in her area.

“Thank you for having the vision to organize The Policy Circle. I can’t tell you how inspiring it is to have an outlet for intelligent, constructive and educational conversation about the serious issues we all face today. For so long, I have silently worried about where our state and country is headed and, as an individual, the problem seems overwhelmingly impossible to tackle. With others, there is strength and power – both in ideas and actions – and, suddenly, the potential for change seems very possible.”  

Lisa F, Policy Circle member

When a woman makes a statement she  discovers her voice and capacity for thought leadership.  She develops confidence:  to discuss, to ask, and to act.


When a woman finds her voice it can be transformative.