(Updated with video 11:25 a.m.) The 2014 race for governor is in a dead heat. Republican Tom Foley is tied in a hypothetical match up with Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, according to the a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
Malloy has not yet announced that he will seek another term, but he has signaled that he will be announcing in May sometime after the end of the legislative session.
The poll found first-term governor still struggles with his approval ratings. He gets a 48 percent, while 45 percent disapprove and voters are divided about whether he should even seek re-election. Malloy’s approval rating hasn’t broken through the 50 percent mark in any poll, but the 48 percent is a high-water mark for him.
Malloy received a 48 percent approval rating a year ago in the polls and his lowest rating approval rating, 35 percent, came in March 2011 after his first three months in office.
“For Malloy, perhaps the biggest worry is that he’s never been able to get over 50 percent in job approval — a danger sign for any incumbent,” Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz said in a press release.
Looking at Malloy’s personal qualities:
· 60 percent of Connecticut voters say he has strong leadership qualities;
· 59 percent of Connecticut voters say he is honest and trustworthy;
· 50 percent of Connecticut voters say he cares about their needs and problems.
In a hypothetical match-up with Foley, his 2010 opponent, Malloy wins the female vote. The poll found a large gender gap as women back Malloy 45-37 percent while men back Foley 48-39 percent.
“We have tried to be consistent in not saying much about polls because, what’s there to say? Polls come and go, numbers go up and down,” Malloy’s spokesman Andrew Doba said in an emailed statement. “The governor always does what he thinks is best for the state and the right thing to do.”
The statement is similar to past statements following the release of polls by Quinnipiac University, which had Malloy’s 2010 Democratic primary opponent beating him by three points just one day before that contest. Malloy went on to best Ned Lamont by a sizable margin.
On the Republican side where there’s likely to be a primary this year, Foley continues to dominate the pack with Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton as his closest competition. If the Republican primary were held today Foley would receive 36 percent of the vote and Boughton would receive 11 percent of the vote. The rest would be split between Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney, Joe Visconti, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, and Sen. Toni Boucher. None of those four candidates break into double digits. And 35 percent of Republican voters remain undecided.
“Foley dominates other Republicans vying for the nomination, who have little statewide recognition,” Schwartz said. But there’s a risk that Foley “gets bloodied during the primary process,” and Malloy sails to victory. It’s a scenario that Malloy seems to be counting on, describing the Republican primary race as a “donnybrook.”
Foley, the former ambassador to Ireland, who lost the 2010 election by 6,404 votes, was happy with the results of the poll.
“Voters understand that with the right leadership and better policies Connecticut can have the promising future we thought it had before Governor Malloy was elected,” Foley said. “That is why I am running for governor and why a challenger is running neck and neck with a Democrat incumbent in a very blue state.”
Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. said the poll shows that Malloy’s attempts to win public support over the past few months have failed.
“Despite going on the offensive over the past few months, proposing cheap election-year gimmicks in a desperate attempt to save his re-election chances, Governor Malloy has been unable to convince voters that he deserves a second term,” Labriola said.
For the first time ever, Connecticut voters have abandoned their approval of President Barack Obama, who will visit the state Wednesday to pitch an increase in the minimum wage.
The poll found voters disapprove of the job Obama is doing and gave him a negative 45-51 percent approval rating. There’s still a gender gap with men disapproving 57-40 percent and women divided with 49 percent approving and 47 percent disapproving.
He even gets a lukewarm 49-43 percent approval from voters 18 to 29 years old, who have been largely supportive of the president.
Obama’s highest rating came in May 2009 when he received a 71 percent approval rating from Connecticut voters. Last March, he had a 53 percent approval rating in the poll.
The poll surveyed 1,878 registered voters and it has a 2.3 percent margin of error. The margin of error when it comes to the questions for Republicans voters increased to 4.5 percent.