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Polls show presidential politics could play role at local polling places

HARTFORD – It isn’t just the presidential candidates that will appear on your ballot in November; your local House and Senate leaders in Connecticut...

HARTFORD - It isn't just the presidential candidates that will appear on your ballot in November; your local House and Senate leaders in Connecticut are also vying for your vote.

Several polls have shown a large number of Connecticut residents are not happy with the path the state is on. That could create a shake-up in the November election.

Connecticut's Capitol is calm during this summer break, but just months ago the walls of the building held a raucous session. A growing deficit, budget cuts, and layoffs aren’t sitting well with Connecticut voters.

Click here for full coverage of the 2016 elections.

A Quinnipiac University Poll in June showed 65 percent of those polled disapprove of the way the legislature is handling its job.

With House and Senate elections this fall, there could be changes in the makeup of Connecticut's legislature.

Right now Democrats control both chambers.

There are 36 seats in the Senate. This session Democrats held 21 and Republicans had 15. Two of those seats are open this fall.

The house holds 151 seats. Democrats held 87 seats in 2016 and Republicans had 64. There are 22 open seats in November, largely because of retirements.

It reminds many of the election cycle in 1991 after the income tax was implemented. It was a gut-wrenching session. The tax was highly unpopular, and afterwards, scores of legislators retired.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill believes today is similar.

"The decisions people have had to make have been really tough, and so a lot of them just left,” said Merrill.

Republicans are trying to move in on that dissatisfaction.

“Connecticut Democrats have been in charge of the legislature for 30-plus years and look where it's gotten us,” said Connecticut’s Republican Party Chair JR Romano.

He views public dissatisfaction as an opportunity to not only pick up seats, but gain control of either chamber.

“We're within striking distance in both the House and the Senate,” Romano went on.

In the House, the GOP only needs to gain 12 seats to flip. Just two years ago, Republicans picked up 10.

“If they want change and they want something different in Connecticut it`s through the Republican Party,” said Romano.

Of course, it all depends on who comes out to the polls in November, and we can’t forget it's a presidential election year.

During Connecticut’s primary in April, both Republicans and Democrats saw more than 40 percent of those registered to vote participate, which can be a temperature gauge for November’s election.

"If the primary election was any indication it's going to be a very large turnout,” said Merrill.

Connecticut's Democratic Party Chair, Nick Balletto, believes the presidential election will help his party maintain control.

"What is on the ticket is a horrible guy named Donald Trump,” said Balletto, "We're the party that fights for them and Donald Trump stands for just about everything we are against."

Balletto admits the November races won't be easy, but he wants voters to remember what he says Connecticut Democrats have fought for: education, healthcare, and social issues.

"People may not have been happy but our party did the right thing,” said Balletto, "We're going to be out there fighting every day in making sure people know what we stand for."

It’s a power struggle Connecticut’s Capitol has seen before, and one that will soon be in the hands of voters.