Gov. Ned Lamont had an eight-point lead over Republican Bob Stefanowski in a new Quinnipiac University poll that reinforced Lamont’s status as a favorite who can ill-afford complacency in a volatile political environment.
A survey of 1,660 registered voters released Thursday afternoon showed Lamont with a 51%-43% lead over Stefanowski, who lost by 3 points to the governor in a contest for an open seat in 2018.
Lamont’s single-digit lead in a blue state is unlikely to change the general assessment of the Connecticut race for governor as leaning Democratic but competitive. Republicans last won a gubernatorial race in 2006.
The poll underlines the advantages and disadvantages of incumbency: Lamont is better known than Stefanowski and is well regarded for his management of COVID-19, but voters are pessimistic about the economy.
The job approval of U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who is seeking a third term this fall, was his worst in Quinnipiac polling since the Democrat took office in 2011. He was barely above water: 45% approve while 43% disapprove.
The poll offered no matchups between Blumenthal and any of the three Republicans competing for the nomination to oppose him in November: Themis Klarides, Peter Lumaj and Leora Levy.
A recent Emerson College poll commissioned by WTNH showed Blumenthal with a 10-point lead over Klarides and 16 points over Lumaj and Levy.
Connecticut’s other two-term Democratic senator, Chris Murphy, fared better than Blumenthal with 45% approving and 37% disapproving. He is not up for reelection until 2024, a presidential year.
Only 13% of voters thought Connecticut’s economy was getting better, and their view of Lamont’s fellow Democrat, President Joe Biden, was especially dim: 40% approved of his performance approaching the midterm election, while 54% disapproved.
(Biden and Lamont did better in the Emerson/WTNH poll. Biden’s approval was 53%, and Lamont’s lead over Stefanowski was, 51%-38%.)
Lamont scored positively in favorability (50%-36%) and job approval (50%-38%), but he lost ground from a Quinnipiac poll that showed him with a 65% job approval in May 2020, the second month of the pandemic.
His handling of the pandemic still gets high marks. By a margin of 71%-23%, voters approved. Even among Republicans, his performance won more approval than disapproval, 47%-45%.
Voters split (43%-44%) over Lamont’s handling of the budget, even though the state just cut taxes and is running surpluses.
Nearly 40% of voters had no opinion about Stefanowski, who began a multimillion-dollar television advertising campaign on Jan. 25. His approval-disapproval was 37%-22%.
The survey was conducted from May 19 to 23, ending a day before the shooting deaths of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, making an issue of school shootings and gun control.
The economy topped the list of issues most important to voters in deciding whom to support for governor. Thirty-five percent cited the economy, while 15% cited taxes and 11% cited abortion.
Crime was not identified as a top issue, but 41% of voters said Connecticut was less safe than five years ago, though only 29% thought their own communities were less safe.
Voters strongly supported keeping abortion legal, either in all cases (37%) or most cases (31%). A minority favored making abortion illegal in most cases (18%) or all cases (5%).
Seventy percent favored requiring parental notification for a minor under 16 to get an abortion, as Stefanowski favors and Lamont opposes.
By a margin of 66%-26%, voters also supported a Connecticut law designed to protect out-of-state patients who seek abortion services in Connecticut from legal action taken by states that have outlawed abortion.
Lamont signed the bill into law. Stefanowski has refused to say if he would have signed it.
The telephone poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points. It was conducted by live interviews over landlines and mobile phones.