Connecticut’s super-heated race for governor has closed again to a 43 percent to 43 percent tie between Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Republican Tom Foley, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday. Petitioning candidate Joe Visconti was at nine percent.
Malloy, the first-term Democratic incumbent, erased the six-point lead Foley posted a month ago in Quinnipiac’s last poll, a survey that unsettled Democrats by showing Malloy sinking in a race that had been static in the university’s polling.
“It looks like we’re heading for another photo finish – just like in 2010,” said Douglas Schwartz, the poll’s director.
Only five percent of likely voters were undecided, but 25 percent said they could change their minds.
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Democrats had been bracing for the worst. After Quinnipiac announced Tuesday it would release a new poll, the Democratic Governors Association said the university’s polling had underrepresented Democrats this cycle, a claim the GOP made about its voters two years ago, a move calculated to soften the impact of another negative poll.
The new poll comes after two debates in which Malloy was the aggressor, as well as saturation television advertising by both campaigns and two super PACs backed by the Democratic and Republican governors associations.
But the result is an electorate not enthused about either major-party candidate, who are a facing each other in a rematch after Malloy won in 2010 in Connecticut’s closest gubernatorial race in 56 years.
Malloy didn’t gain as much as Foley fell, at least as measured by favorability.
“As the campaign has gotten nasty, voters are not wild about either candidate. Malloy’s favorability rating is still underwater. Foley gets a mixed favorability rating. He is a little better known since early September, but a little less liked,” Schwartz said.
By a 42 percent to 33 percent split last month, voters had a favorable opinion of Foley, a 62-year-old Greenwich businessman and former ambassador to Ireland. That narrowed to 41 percent to 39 percent, a net drop of seven points.
Three hours after the release of the poll, the Foley campaign made a move to claim higher ground by announcing an online petition drive in support of Foley’s proposal for a truce on person attacks.
Malloy, 59, a former New York prosecutor and Stamford mayor who is the state’s first Democratic governor in two decades, still is viewed unfavorably, 41 percent to 51 percent, compared to 40 percent to 53 percent a month ago.
“Malloy has been able to cut into Foley’s lead among men while increasing his lead among women, to break even over all. There is a gender gap in the race with Malloy ahead by 11 percentage points among women and Foley up 11 points among men,” Schwartz said.
Women favored Malloy over Foley, 47 percent to 36 percent, with 10 percent for Visconti, while men backed Foley over Malloy, 50 percent to 39 percent, with 8 percent for Visconti. A month ago, Foley’s lead among men was 54 percent to 35 percent.
Visconti, a Republican former councilman from West Hartford, remains largely unknown: 86 percent of voters said they knew too little to express a favorable or unfavorable opinion. Those who did were split.
Quinnipiac found Visconti drawing support evenly from Malloy and Foley, which runs counter to expectations, since Visconti is a Republican whose campaign has strongly appealed to gun owners.
Quinnipiac conducted the poll from Oct. 1 to 6, going into the field the day before a televised debate in which Malloy and Foley each challenged the other’s integrity. The survey of 1,085 likely voters has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
It follows by two days a poll by Public Policy Polling, a firm with a roster of Democratic clients, that showed Malloy with an eight-point lead. The PPP survey showed Visconti drawing more from Foley voters.