A Quinnipiac University poll of Connecticut voters brought unsettling news Tuesday to both parties: Their presidential frontrunners are Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, but both are viewed negatively by a majority of voters.

Among declared candidates, Clinton has an 18-point lead over a surging Bernie Sanders, but only single-digit leads in general-election matchups with the strongest Republicans.

Republican presidential candidates Quinnipiac poll results
Candidate March 2015 October 2015
Bush 18% 6%
Carson 7% 14%
Christie 11% 4%
Cruz 5% 6%
Fiorina 11%
Huckabee 3%
Jindal 2%
Kasich 4%
Pataki 1%
Paul 12% 1%
Rubio 4% 7%
Trump 34%
Someone else 3% 1%
Wouldn’t vote 3% 1%
Don’t know 12% 9%

In a solidly blue state in every presidential election since Bill Clinton carried Connecticut in 1992, Hillary Clinton leads the strongest GOP contender in the general election, Ben Carson, by just two percentage points. A man not in the race, Vice President Joe Biden, runs strongest against Republicans, while trailing Clinton and Sanders in a Democratic primary.

Biden was the only politician viewed favorably by a majority of Connecticut voters, 56 percent favorable to 29 percent unfavorable. Trump and Clinton were underwater on the favorable/unfavorable split: Trump, 37 percent to 56 percent; and Clinton, 42 percent to 51 percent.

“A Trump-Clinton matchup would be a battle of two negatively viewed candidates. Clinton would come out ahead but Trump is within single digits – seven points,” said Douglas Schwartz, the poll’s director. “Biden is clearly a stronger general election candidate than Clinton.  He would easily defeat Trump by double digits – 18 points.”

The poll shows that Republicans here share the intense desire for an outsider seen nationally this year. The only candidates with double-digit support among GOP voters never have held office: Trump, 34 percent; Carson, 14 percent; and Carly Fiorina, 11 percent.

Trump, Carson and Fiorina combined for 59 percent among GOP voters.

Carson, a pediatric neurosurgeon who would be the second African American president, was the strongest candidate in a general-election matchup, trailing Clinton 44 percent to 42 percent. Fiorina, a former corporate chief executive, trailed Clinton by five.

The second tier of candidates among Republican voters: Marco Rubio, seven percent; Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz, six percent; Chris Christie and John Kasich, four percent; Rand Paul and George Pataki, one percent. No other candidate received measurable support.

Bush, a former Florida governor whose grandfather, Prescott Bush, was a U.S. senator in Connecticut, was viewed unfavorably by 51 percent of Republicans. Only 33 percent said they had a favorable opinion.

Among Democratic voters, Clinton leads Sanders, 47 percent to 29 percent, with no other declared Democrat getting more than nominal support. With Biden in the mix, it was Clinton with 37 percent, Sanders with 25 percent and Biden with 18 percent.

The best news for Sanders, the Vermont senator, is he leads among an important demographic in Democratic primaries: voters who describe themselves as “very liberal.” Among them, Sanders leads 44 percent to 37 percent for Clinton and nine percent for Biden.

Sanders, whose campaign in Connecticut is an ad hoc effort run by volunteers, also performed slightly better than Clinton in general-election matchups, leading Trump by nine points, 49 percent to 42 percent.

Clinton is endorsed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and other leading Democrats. Bill Clinton is headlining a fundraiser Wednesday for his wife at the home of Attorney Genera George Jepsen.

In a sign of the angry times, Quinnipiac asked affiliated voters if there were candidates they never would support in the general election.

Trump tops the GOP list as 25 percent of Republicans say they would “definitely not” vote for him if he wins the nomination, followed by Bush with 22 percent.

Sixteen percent of Democrats say would not vote for Clinton in the general if she is their nominee, compared to 12 percent for Sanders and nine percent for Biden.

Democrats hold their first televised debate Tuesday night on CNN, giving some television exposure to three candidates with no measurable support in the Connecticut poll: Lincoln Chafee, the former U.S. senator and governor from Rhode Island; Martin O’Malley, former governor of Maryland; and Jim Webb, the former U.S. senator from Virginia.

Biden is not participating.

President Obama received a lackluster job rating: 48 percent favorable; 49 percent unfavorable. He was more popular than the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by his administration. It was opposed, 59 percent to 28 percent.

The poll was based on a telephone survey of 1,735 registered voters conducted from Oct. 7 to 11, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points. The subsets of 464 Republicans and 610 Democrats had margins of error of 4.6 percentage points and 4 percentage points, respectively.

The full results can be viewed online at quinnipiac.edu.

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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