A shift by independent voters has pushed Republican Tom Foley to within three percentage points of Democrat Dan Malloy in the race for governor, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
Malloy is favored 45 percent to 42 percent among likely voters, giving him a lead within the poll’s margin of error, although a Rasmussen Reports’ survey released yesterday still gave Malloy a 10-point lead. In a Quinnipiac poll two weeks ago, he led 50 percent to 41 percent.
The new poll leaves Connecticut’s two open races for U.S. Senate and governor in statistical dead heats with five weeks until Election Day.
“Like Republican U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon, Foley has been capitalizing on the anti-government feeling. Also, both McMahon and Foley have been gaining due to the support of independent voters,” said Douglas Schwartz, the poll’s director.
Foley and Malloy evenly split the unaffiliated vote two weeks ago, but independents favor Foley in the new poll, 44 percent to 38 percent.
The shift in the polling comes as advertising in the race has turned sharply negative.
Foley has aired ads attacking Malloy’s record as mayor of Stamford. Malloy has countered with commercials criticizing Foley’s record as a businessman.
About 80 percent of voters say they have seen both candidates’ ads, with Malloy’s commercials getting a slightly more favorable reception than Foley’s.
By a margin of 49 percent to 43 percent, Malloy’s ads are seen as more informative than annoying. For Foley, the margin is 45 percent to 46 percent.
The Foley campaign had no immediate comment, but Malloy’s campaign minimized the effect of the poll.
“We don’t pay much attention to polls. This same poll had Dan down by 3 the day before the primary, a race he won by 14 points,” said Dan Kelly, Malloy’s campaign manager. “Dan tells us to campaign as if we’re in 2nd place, 10 points down. So that’s what we do.”
Schwartz described the electorate as volatile, with 12 percent undecided and 22 percent who say they could change their minds.
“With about a third of voters still persuadable, the upcoming debates could be decisive,” he said.
Malloy and Foley have televised debates Oct. 5 on Fox61, Oct. 13 on WTNH, Oct. 19 on WFSB, CPTV and WNPR and Oct. 29 on NBC30.
Asked if their view of the candidates was favorable or unfavorable, about one-third knew too little to offer an opinion.
Malloy is viewed favorably, 39 percent to 27 percent, with 31 percent offering no opinion. Foley is viewed favorably, 34 percent to 25 percent, with 36 percent having no opinion.
Malloy leads among women, 52 percent to 34 percent. Foley leads among men, 49 percent to 38 percent.
As in the race for Senate, the Republican is benefitting from voter dissatisfaction with government. Sixty-five percent say they are dissatisfied or angry with state government, compared to three-quarters who expressed discontent with federal government.
Among the 18 percent of voters who describe themselves as angry, Foley leads, 60 percent to 29 percent.
The deep dissatisfaction with state government is not reflected on Gov. M. Jodi Rell, the Republican who has led that government for six years. Her job approval rating is 59 percent.
The poll is based on a random telephone survey of 1,083 residents who were determined by a series of screening questions to be to likely voters. It was conducted from September 21 to 26 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.