With barely two weeks left before the mid-term elections, a political scientist at the University of Connecticut predicted comfortable victories for the Democratic candidates in the state’s senate and gubernatorial races.
Vin Moscardelli, a UConn professor of political science, said Friday that he expects Democrats Richard Blumenthal and Dan Malloy to easily win their bids for their respective offices albeit for different reasons.
In the U.S. Senate race, Moscardelli said the relatively safe campaign that Blumenthal has run against his more aggressive opponent, Linda McMahon, will pay off on Nov 2.
“I think that the way this is trending [Blumenthal] is going to coast to victory,” he said.
Moscardelli said that due to the state’s historically liberal bent, McMahon has been fighting an uphill battle from the onset.
“[In the senate race] there are short-term trends favoring Republicans bumping up against more secular trends as Connecticut continues to become a bluer state,” he said.
The most recent Quinnipiac University poll released last week put Blumenthal up 11 points over McMahon. A previous poll, two weeks earlier, had McMahon closing the gap to within the three-point margin of error. A Rasmussen Reports poll released Friday puts Blumenthal in the lead by five points.
While McMahon has closed a significant gap in the polls since the beginning of the race, when Blumenthal was considered a shoe-in for the seat, Moscardelli noted that gains coincided with national trends.
“She did gain ground but the rate of gain wasn’t that much greater than that of Republican candidates around the country,” he said.
In the end both candidates did a poor job of defining their opponent in the eyes of the public, who have known Blumenthal for the last 20 years as Attorney General, Moscardelli said.
Even McMahon’s numerous attack ads condemning Blumenthal for misrepresenting his military service in Vietnam, probably had relatively little effect on the public’s opinion because of his past efforts on behalf of veterans, Moscardelli said.
“His record on veteran’s issues has been extraordinary,” he said.
As for the chance of an October surprise? While admitting it’s always possible, Moscardelli thought it was unlikely.
“I think that the voters know these candidates at this point,” he said. “I have a hard time believing that anything that breaks within the next two or three weeks would change people’s attitudes toward these candidates.
“I think it would take a blockbuster revelation at this point,” he said.
The Oct. 14 Quinnipiac University poll found only three percent of voters are undecided and seven percent that named a candidate say they could change their mind by Election Day.
In the gubernatorial race Moscardelli is also predicting a democratic victory but for different reasons.
“The two races are driven by different dynamics,” he said. “In national politics, Connecticut’s blueness is a big factor but the people of this state have proven they aren’t afraid to elect a republican governor.”
A Rasmussen Reports poll of the governor’s race released Saturday, shows Malloy with 49 percent of the vote and Republican Tom Foley with 45 percent. The poll of 750 likely voters has a 4 percent margin or error.
“The race has tightened since late September when Malloy held a 10-point lead,” Rasmussen’s press release on the poll says. “Earlier this month, he held a narrower 49 percent to 44 percent edge over Foley. In surveys dating back to May, Malloy has consistently been the front-runner, with support ranging from 38 percent to 50 percent. Foley, in those same surveys, has earned 33 percent to 45 percent of the vote.”
Despite being outspent in the primary campaign and so far in the general campaign, Moscardelli said he expects Malloy to win because of great ground campaign.
“It’s flabbergasting how much money Malloy has had to run against,” he said.
According to forms each candidate has filed with the State Elections Enforcement Commission, Foley has indeed outspent Malloy, but has less money going into the final few weeks of the campaign.
So far Foley has spent about $6.5 million on the campaign while Malloy, who is publicly financed has spent around $4.2 million of the $8.7 million he was given by the state to spend. As the two enter the last leg of this campaign, Malloy has far more money still on hand. According to the same SEEC forms, Malloy still has $4.5 million while Foley had just under $200,000 in his Oct. 10 filing.
In the August Democratic primary Malloy was outspent almost four to one by Ned Lamont, but was still able to sail to victory proving that money doesn’t always talk.
In both races Moscardelli’s predictions are supported by models generated by New York Times statistician, Nate Silver. Silver’s models, based on 100,000 simulations, predict comfortable democratic victories for both positions.