Buoyed by a solidifying Democrat base and divided unaffiliateds, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy opened a three-point lead Monday over Republican Tom Foley in a Quinnipiac University poll that’s likely to be the last word on Connecticut’s race for governor until the polls close Tuesday night.

The poll released Monday morning had the first-term Democratic incumbent leading 47 percent to 44 percent among likely voters, with seven percent undecided. Eleven percent of voters who expressed a preference said they could change their mind.

Malloy’s lead is within the margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

The poll was conducted from Oct. 28 through Sunday, the day that conservative petitioning candidate Joe Visconti suspended his campaign to endorse Foley, so the poll does not fully reflect the race’s changing dynamic.

“That is a wild card,” said Douglas Schwartz, the poll’s director.

But Quinnipiac had been asking voters to also give their preference in a two-way race, which consistently showed Visconti drawing from both major-party candidates.

In a three-way race, Malloy led Foley, 43 percent to 42 percent, with Visconti at eight percent. Visconti has not legally withdrawn as a candidate and his name will remain on the ballot.

“Contrary to conventional wisdom, independent candidate Joe Visconti’s last minute exit from the governor’s race doesn’t look like it will help Republican Tom Foley,” Schwartz said.

Malloy now is supported by 86 percent of Democrats, a number that has climbed steadily in four Quinnipiac polls since Sept. 10, when it was 77 percent. Foley is backed by 89 percent of Republicans, who are outnumbered by Democrats in Connecticut, 712,985 to 407,520.

Unaffiliated voters, the biggest bloc of the electorate at 818,389,  are nearly evenly split, 44 percent for Malloy and 45 percent for Foley. The governor has a 15-point lead among women, while Foley has a 10-point lead among men.

Neither major-party candidate is beloved. Only 43 percent of voters say they have a favorable opinion of Malloy, compared to 42 percent for Foley. Forty-nine percent have an unfavorable opinion of Malloy, compared to 44 percent for Foley.

The poll was the last of three released in recent days, all favorable for Malloy, an incumbent who has not reached a 50-percent job approval rating since taking office.

But Foley says his internal polling showed him with a 3½-point lead Thursday, and he’s been telling his supporters he expects to win by four of five points on election night.

One difference in the various polls are how they screen for likely voters and whether they adjust their sample to reflect expected voter turnout. Quinnipiac does not weight its results according to a turnout model.

As to its screen for likely voters, Schwartz declined to share those questions: “It’s the secret sauce.”

The Quinnipiac poll was based on a telephone survey of 982 likely voters.

Comparing the Polls — Final Edition
It took 7 tries, but Malloy breaks 43% in a 2014 Quinnipiac poll
Poll Date Malloy Foley Visconti Difference
Quinnipiac 3-Nov-14 47 44 n/a Malloy +3
Rasmussen 2-Nov-14 48 47 n/a Malloy +1
PPP 1-Nov-14 44 41 6 Malloy +3
Quinnipiac 29-Oct-14 43 43 7 tie
YouGov 27-Oct-14 40 40 3 tie
Quinnipiac 22-Oct-14 43 42 9 Malloy +1
Rasmussen 19-Oct-14 43 50 na Foley +7
Quinnipiac 8-Oct-14 43 43 9 tie
PPP 6-Oct-14 43 35 9 Malloy +8
YouGov 11-Sep-14 37 37 n/a tie
Quinnipiac 10-Sep-14 40 46 7 Foley + 6
Rasmussen 21-Aug-14 38 45 n/a Foley +7
Vox 31-Jul-14 35 34 n/a Malloy +1
YouGov 28-Jul-14 33 42 n/a Foley +9
Quinnipiac 9-May-14 43 43 n/a tie
Quinnipiac 4-Mar-14 42 42 n/a tie

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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