Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump
Cruz, Trump, Kasich, Clinton, Sanders
Cruz, Trump, Kasich, Clinton, Sanders

Fresh off decisive home-state wins in neighboring New York, Republican Donald J. Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton each have significant leads among likely voters in next week’s Connecticut primary, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.

A thirst for an outsider helps Trump top a three-way GOP field with 48 percent to 28 percent for Ohio Gov. John Kasich and 19 percent for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Only five percent are undecided, but 25 percent with a preference say they could change their mind before Tuesday.

With strong support from women and black voters, Clinton was preferred over U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in a closer race, 51 percent to 42 percent, with 6 percent undecided and 19 percent with a favorite saying they could change their mind.

The poll did not measure general election match ups in Connecticut, a state that has gone Democratic in every presidential race since Bill Clinton won the first of his two terms in 1992.

It offered no breakdown of the state’s five congressional districts, which is how some of delegates will be apportioned in Connecticut. It is one of five northeastern states to hold primaries next week when Clinton, a former U.S. senator and secretary of state, hopes to solidify her hold on the Democratic nomination.

“Secretary Hillary Clinton wins on all the most important issues to voters, except for income inequality,” said Douglas Schwartz, the poll’s director. “Sen. Bernie Sanders wins on honesty, values, and empathy. But Clinton wins by bigger margins on leadership, electability, and experience.”

The Democratic electorate is showing gaps based on gender, race and age.

Clinton, who is campaigning Thursday morning in Hartford’s predominantly black North End, is heavily favored by black voters in Connecticut, 66 percent to 25 percent.  She is favored by women, 55 percent to 38 percent. She narrowly leads among whites, 49 percent to 47 percent.

Among those who say electability is a top concern, Clinton is favored, 83 percent to 16 percent.

Sanders overwhelmingly is favored among young voters, 72 percent to 26 percent in the 18- t0 36-year-old demographic. He leads 54 percent to 43 percent among very liberal voters and 50 percent to 45 percent among men.

Sanders, who turns 75 in September and would be the oldest U.S. president by five years, does his worst among older voters. He is favored by only one-third of voters age 65 and above.

Both candidates are viewed favorably by a majority of Democrats: 67 percent to 27 percent for Clinton and 66 percent to 18 percent for Sanders.

In the GOP race, Trump’s strength is among voters who desire an outsider and those who identify themselves with the conservative Tea Party movement.

By 59 percent to 33 percent, Connecticut Republicans want a candidate from outside politics. Trump, a billionaire businessman trying to become the first president without electoral experience since Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, is favored by 75 percent who want an outsider.

“Connecticut Republicans have gone for outsider candidates such as Linda McMahon and Tom Foley. They continue that trend with Donald Trump,” Schwartz said. “The conventional wisdom that Sen. Cruz is too conservative for Connecticut looks true, as he comes in a distant third.”

McMahon and Foley twice won primaries for U.S. Senate and governor, respectively. Each lost the general elections.

Trump leads across nearly every GOP demographic group. An exception is 18- to 44-year-olds, who favor Kasich, 39 percent to 32 percent for Trump and 27 percent for Cruz.

Trump leads among conservatives and white evangelicals. He and Kasich split the moderate-liberal GOP vote.

By 56 percent to 37 percent, GOP voters have a favorable or somewhat favorable opinion of Trump. Kasich is viewed favorably, 58 percent to 18 percent. Only Cruz has a negative rating, 38 percent to 45 percent.

Trump and Kasich are nearly tied among those who say electability is their top concern. But only 9 percent of likely voters say the best chance of winning was their most important concern, compared to 37 percent who identified the desire for a strong leader.

Clinton is meeting Thursday in Hartford with relatives of gun-violence victims and is featuring the Sandy Hook school shooting in a new ad, but only three percent of likely Democratic primary voters said gun policy was the “most important issue to you in deciding who to support.”

Kasich, trying to position himself as the only alternative to Trump, has a public forum Friday evening in Glastonbury. Trump held a rally in Hartford last Friday.

The telephone poll of 823 likely Republican voters and 1,037 likely Democratic voters was conducted from April 12 to 18, after both Clinton and Sanders began airing television commercials in Connecticut.

The margin of error is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for the GOP candidates and 3 percentage points for the Democrats.

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.

Leave a comment