Connecticut voters agree with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s strong stand on gun control after Newtown, but they give him low marks on their priority issues of the economy and taxes, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.
The Democratic governor’s proposal to use $155 million of the projected surplus for a $55 tax refund to most taxpayers is seen as an election year gimmick by 63 percent of voters and good public policy by 23 percent. Forty-nine percent say it’s a bad idea, and 43 percent call it a good idea.
The minimum wage and economic inequality, subjects of President Obama’s visit Wednesday to New Britain and a high-profile legislative initiative of Malloy’s, are a priority of only 4 percent of voters. Raising the minimum wage is supported by 71 percent.
In an open-ended question, Quinnipiac asked respondents to name their top priority.
Nothing rivals jobs and the economy as a concern: It is the priority of 36 percent. The only other priority issues in double digits are taxes, 14 percent, and education, 11 percent.
“Gov. Dannel Malloy gets great marks for his handling of the snowstorms, but low marks for voter priorities, the economy and jobs, taxes, education and the budget,” said Douglas Schwartz, the poll’s director.
Eighty-six percent approve of the governor’s leadership during the state’s long run of winter storms.
By wide margins, voters disapprove of Malloy’s handling of their top two priorities: economy and jobs (33 percent approve, 60 percent disapprove) and taxes (29 percent to 63 percent.)
Fifty-seven percent say Malloy’s economic policies have made no difference in their lives, while 36 percent say they hurt and 6 percent say they helped.
They are divided on his handling of education (41 percent to 43 percent), though the poll does not explore views on specific education issues, such as teacher evaluations or curriculum standards. He gets bad marks on the budget (37 percent to 53 percent).
Nearly a year after the passage of bipartisan gun control legislation strongly favored by the governor, voters approve of his handling of the issue, though narrowly, 47 percent to 43 percent.
The poll shows a deep partisan divided on his gun policy: 70 percent of Democrats approve of Malloy’s handling of the issue, 72 percent of Republicans disapprove, and independents are split.
Asked if they support or oppose the state’s new strict gun laws, 57 percent support and 39 percent oppose, nearly identical to the results of a Quinnipiac poll in June.
Again, the question found a deep partisan divide: 80 percent of Democrats and 55 percent of independents support the new law, while 63 percent of Republicans oppose it.
Only 2 percent identified guns as a priority.
Voters remain evenly divided on a law that passed in 2012 with Malloy’s support that repeals capital punishment for future crimes and replaces it with a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.
The polling results follow the release Tuesday of data on the 2014 election that shows Malloy in a dead heat with Republican Tom Foley, his opponent from 2010 and the leader in a five-candidate field for the GOP nomination.
The poll is based on a random telephone survey of 1,878 voters conducted Feb. 26 to March 2. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.