With no poll, money can’t buy a ‘bump’

Television-advertising dollars spent in recent weeks by the gubernatorial campaigns of Democrat Ned Lamont and Republican Tom Foley won’t buy them their expected pre-convention bumps in the Quinnipiac University poll.

That’s a certainty, because there won’t be another Quinnipiac poll before this weekend’s state party nominating conventions.

Today’s down-to-the-wire Democratic senate primary in Pennsylvania has been so compelling that Quinnipiac has shifted polling resources from Connecticut to Joe Sestak’s challenge of U.S Sen. Arlen Specter.

“We’re doing Pennsylvania,” said Douglas Schwartz, the poll’s director. “And, no, we won’t have another poll before the [Connecticut] conventions.”

The Malloy camp was sufficiently concerned about a new Quinnipiac poll that it prepared its supporters for the inevitable bad news that comes when an opponent is airing television commercials and your candidate is not.

In an email sent Monday, Malloy’s campaign manager, Dan Kelly, made a few predictions for convention week. One of them was a bad Quinnipiac poll.

“We could see Ned Lamont up as much as 30% in this poll, and here’s why: voters are making their decision in a vacuum, and these numbers are nothing more than a sign of voters hearing the candidate’s name, not them making a choice in the race,” Kelly wrote.

Kelly can relax.

Quinnipiac shifted gears after a May 12 poll found Sestak closing on Specter, 80, a Republican lion who abandoned the GOP last year and is trying to win re-election as a Democrat. Sestak is a congressman and retired admiral.

Instead of conducting a pre-convention poll in Connecticut, which has wide open nomination fights for governor and a competitive GOP contest for U.S. senate, it polled again in Pennsylvania over the weekend.

On Monday, it released a survey Monday that showed Sestak leading Specter, 42 percent to 41 percent.

Quinnipiac has not polled in Connecticut since March, when it found Lamont and Foley leading races with huge undecided votes.

Foley, who then was the only candidate on television, was supported by 30 percent of Republicans, up from 17 percent in January. No other candidate attracted more than 4 percent. He is a Greenwich businessman and a former U.S. ambassador.

Lamont, another Greenwich businessman whose political profile was established by his run for U.S. Senate in 2006, led Malloy, a former Stamford mayor who ran for governor four years ago, 28 percent to 18 percent. No other Democrat topped 4 percent. Lamont led Malloy, 27 percent to 11 percent in January.

“The last Q poll showed Dan making gains while Ned staying flat, at a time when neither candidate was up on TV,” Kelly wrote. “Since then, Ned has spent nearly $1M on TV alone. His numbers will improve and just like Tom Foley and Linda McMahon, he’ll show a large improvement from the last poll.”

Lamont since has joined Foley on the air. Viewers watching WFSB’s “Face the State” on Sunday could have seen back-to-back commercials for governor, one touting the “Foley plan” and another the “Lamont plan.” Each addressed the state’s fiscal crisis.

On May 7, the Lamont campaign released internal polling showing what Kelly feared: Lamont picking up support since airing his television commercials. But internal polling barely is noted by the political press, while a new Quinnipiac poll generates wide coverage.