Poll: Courtney, DeLauro hold wide leads

Democratic U.S. Reps. Joseph Courtney and Rosa DeLauro enjoy comfortable, double-digit leads over their Republican challengers in Connecticut’s 2nd and 3rd congressional districts, according to a new CT Capitol Report poll.

Courtney leads former television news anchor Janet Peckinpaugh 55 percent to 41.3 percent in the 2nd District, which encompasses most of the eastern half of the state.

DeLauro, who won her seat 20 years ago, holds an even wider advantage, 58.1 percent to 36.5 percent over Jerry Labriola of Wallingford, treasurer of the state Republican Party, in the 3rd District, which is centered on New Haven County in south-central Connecticut.

Though the 2nd District has been a swing seat, and Democratic incumbents in the 4th and 5th Districts are in tight races, Courtney seems to be bucking these trends, poll executive director Matthew Fitch said.

“Much of Courtney’s success in this poll is due to him being able to do what fellow incumbents … have not: make the race more than a straight referendum on President Obama,” Fitch said.

While Obama supporters back Courtney by a wide, 90-8 margin, the incumbent also is getting slightly over 20 percent of those voters who either disapprove of or are unsure about the president to support his re-election bid, Fitch said.

“Women voters don’t seem to be connected with Peckinpaugh,” he said, adding that while the former news anchor leads by 8 percentage points among men, Courtney leads 63-32 among women. “That’s bad news in a district where 55 percent of the voters on Election Day are women.”

“These results track with what we are seeing on the ground. They are the result of a solid campaign and Joe Courtney’s four-year record of fighting to protect and grow eastern Connecticut jobs,” campaign manager Neil McKiernan said. “The numbers are an encouraging sign, but do not change the way Joe Courtney approaches the race. He will campaign tomorrow just like he did yesterday and in 2006 — as though the race will be decided by 83 votes.”

Peckinpaugh wrote in a campaign statement that “Overall I’m encouraged by the poll. A close look at the details of the poll reveals that I’m even with Congressman Courtney among independents and enjoying strong support among men and Republicans. I look forward to continuing the conversation with the residents of eastern Connecticut over the next month.”

DeLauro is the safest congressional incumbent in Connecticut this year, Fitch said, adding that her nearly 22-point lead is likely to increase given her financial advantages over Labriola and her strong campaign.

“She is a rare Democrat this year that leads among unaffiliated voters,” he added.

DeLauro’s campaign downplayed the big lead.

“Congresswoman DeLauro is grateful for the support of so many, but takes every race seriously and looks forward to the rest of the campaign and earning the trust and support of the people of the 3rd Congressional District,” said Chuck Swirsky, her campaign manager.

Labriola campaign manager Tanya Bachand said Friday afternoon that she hadn’t seen the poll yet, but based on internal survey numbers, “I do know that we’re trending in the right direction.”

The campaign had been tracking support for Labiola at 20 percent this past summer, Bachand said, adding that the GOP nominee has been making steady gains since.

The polls were conducted by the Merriman River Group. The 2nd District poll surveyed 545 voters and has a 3.7 percent margin of error. The poll in the third district surveyed 513 voters and has a 4.3 percent margin of error.