Poll: Gov races tighten, McMahon lead grows

Ned Lamont’s lead over Dan Malloy in the Democratic race for governor is just 3 percentage points, while Republican Tom Foley’s lead over Michael Fedele is 8 points, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

In the race for the Republican Senate nomination, Linda McMahon has opened a 22-point lead over Rob Simmons, 50 percent to 28 percent, with Peter Schiff at 15 percent.

Lamont leads Malloy, 45 percent to 42 percent. Foley leads Fedele, 38 percent to 30 percent, with Oz Griebel at 17 percentage points.

For the first time in three polls of likely Democratic primary voters, Malloy is within the poll’s margin of error. And Fedele has cut Foley’s lead to single digits for the first time.

The primaries are tomorrow. The poll was conducted over six days, beginning Aug. 3 and ending Sunday, meaning it might not fully reflect any late movement, especially in the more volatile Republican race for governor.

Fedele has been quickly eroding Foley’s lead since airing television commercials. Among likely primary voters, Fedele has closed from 35 points down on July 15 to 15 points last week to 8 in the new survey. Fedele claimed Sunday that his own polling gives him a narrow lead.

“The Democratic governor’s race between Ned Lamont and Dan Malloy is too close to call and the Republican governor’s race between Tom Foley and Lt. Gov. Mike Fedele could produce a surprise,” said Douglas Schwartz, the poll’s director.

The Democratic race has steadily tightened, with Malloy closing from 9 points down on July 15 to five points a week ago to 3 points in the new poll. To stem the losses, Lamont increased his television buy by nearly $1.3 million as Quinnipiac began the new survey, bringing his TV spending to nearly $5 million, compared to about $2 million for Malloy.

A week ago, Lamont led Malloy, 45 percent to 40 percent with 14 percent undecided. Foley led Fedele, 41 percent to 26 percent, with 13 percent for Griebel and 21 percent undecided.

In the new survey, the undecided vote among Republicans is 14 percent, with nearly half of all voters who expressed a preference saying they may yet change their minds. The undecided vote among Democrats is 12 percent, with 30 percent of those who with a preference saying they might change.

The Malloy campaign claimed the late momentum in a statement by Dan Kelly, Malloy’s campaign manager.

“The poll reflects what we’re seeing and hearing every day on the campaign trail: Dan’s got the momentum.  People increasingly see him as the better qualified candidate, and the person best able to provide the leadership this state desperately needs.  People are rejecting Ned’s sleazy and untrue attacks on Dan, and they’re rejecting Ned’s attempt to buy this election.”

Over the weekend, Lamont said he thought his lead had stabilized.

“Democrats know that Ned is the only one in this race with a positive vision for our state, the experience to create jobs, and the ability to beat the Republicans in November,” Justine Sessions, his communication director, said today. “When they go to the polls tomorrow, we’re confident that they’ll choose Ned.”

In the Senate race, McMahon opened some distance on her GOP opponents, reaching 50 percent among likely primary voters for the first time. A week ago, it was McMahon with 47 percent, Simmons 30 percent and Schiff 14 percent.

Quinnipiac released the poll 90 minutes later than its usual release of 6:30 a.m., leaving campaign staffs and journalists hovering by their computers for the last snapshot of voter preferences a day before the polls open.

It had no explanation for the delay in a statement.

The poll is based on surveys of 664 likely Republican primary voters and 464 likely Democratic primary voters. The GOP survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points. The Democratic margin of error is 4.6 points.