With the race tightening, Democrats go the polls today to select Lamont or Malloy as their nominee for an office that Democrats haven’t won since 1986.
“We’re going to win,” said Malloy, the 55-year-old former mayor of Stamford. “As people are making a decision, they’ve decided to go with somebody with experience, somebody who’s run a governmental entity, which I did in Stamford and did it successfully.”
At a campaign stop in Naugatuck, Lamont downplayed a Quinnipiac University poll that showed Malloy closing to within three-percentage points after being down nine points three weeks ago and five last week.
“I don’t spend much time looking at the polls. We have been leading, but it doesn’t matter,” said Lamont, the founder of Lamont Digital, a cable-television company. “We just have to get people to vote.”
Democrats also will select their nominees today for lieutenant governor, comptroller and secretary of the state.
Lamont, 56, of Greenwich won a Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in 2006 that attracted a record turnout of 43 percent, but the director of the Quinnipiac poll said Monday the high number of undecided voters on the eve of primary indicates limited interest.
“It’s going to be a low turnout,” said Douglas Schwartz, the director of the poll. “The question is how low.”
In 2006, 282,894 Democrats turned out to vote for U.S. Senate, not all of whom cast a vote for governor.
If the turnout is closer to 25 percent, as was the case in the 1994 primary between Bill Curry and John Larson, Malloy and Lamont will be competing in a total voter pool of about 186,000.
Previous polls show Lamont easily beating Malloy among all registered voters, but the race turns tight when results are screened for likely voters – meaning a typical turnout of around 25 percent favors Malloy.
Lamont leads, 45 percent to 42 percent, with 12 percent undecided. He led a week ago, 45 percent to 40 percent.
“He’s stuck at 45. He was at 45 in January. This guy can’t move,” Malloy said. “We’re going to win this thing tomorrow. We’re going to win it, because people want somebody who can do the job, not someone who is willing to spend $10 million to try to buy the job.”
As of Aug. 4, Lamont had raised $9.1 million, including $8.6 million that he gave his own campaign. Malloy is relying on $2.5 million in public financing and $250,000 in qualifying contributions. Lamont is outspending Malloy on television, about $5 million to $2 million.
“I think the people who are voting, who are truly committed, they made up their mind two weeks ago, a week ago,” Malloy said.
Lamont didn’t disagree.
“At this point, people have already made up their mind, and I am just going out looking for their vote,” Lamont said.
Lamont’s pitch to voters is built around his business background and his political independence.
“I am going to Hartford with no special interests,” Lamont said.
The two Democrats have hit each other with negative ads over the past two weeks, but the Democratic base has strongly favorable opinions of each contender, 57 percent favorable to 20 percent unfavorable for Malloy and 62 percent favorable and 23 percent unfavorable for Lamont.
The difference between favorable and unfavorable is much narrower for the top two Republicans, Tom Foley and Michael Fedele.
“The Democrats seem to like their candidates much more,” Schwartz said.
Malloy began his last full day of campaigning outside Gate 1 at Electric Boat in Groton, where he and his running mate, Comptroller Nancy Wyman, greeted workers at 5:45 a.m.
They made stops in Uncasville, New Britain, Farmington, Stratford and Stamford.
At the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, Malloy spent more than an hour campaigning in cafeteria at lunch.
“If you are Democrats, please vote tomorrow,” Malloy told one table full of diners. He smiled and added, “If not, I am deputizing you to find one to vote for you.”
Malloy is endorsed by unionized employees at the health center, which he calls a potential generator of new jobs as a center of research.
Malloy ended the day at his boyhood home, which is now owned by a rabbi. The house was featured in his first commercial.
“It’s where the narrative of this campaign began,” Malloy said. “It has great meaning to me.”
Lamont started his day at the Doyle Senior Center in Ansonia after 11 a.m., then made stops in Naugatuck and Danbury before closing out the day with a rally near his campaign headquarters on Orange Street in New Haven, a city Lamont carried in 2006.
“Don’t vote against anyone, I want to give you someone to vote for,” Lamont told the crowd of about 50, most of whom were campaign volunteers or workers.
He was joined on stage by his family and his running mate, Mary Glassman, and New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, who narrowly beat Malloy in the gubernatorial primary in 2006, only to lose to Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell in a landslide.
“The time for speeches is over, the time to go work has begun,” Glassman said.