CTNJ file photo

Polls have not been kind to Republican gubernatorial primary candidate John McKinney. But McKinney, who’s hoping for an upset next week, says no one expected Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to survive the 2010 primary.

McKinney was badly trailing his primary opponent, 2010 Republican nominee Tom Foley, in the last survey published by Quinnipiac University in May. Since then, he’s been ignored altogether by a pair of surveys published last week.

Republicans will head to the polls to pick their gubernatorial candidate on Aug. 12.

Asked about the polls at a press conference last week, McKinney said they are notoriously inaccurate in primary elections.

He pointed to Malloy — who was trailing his primary opponent Ned Lamont by 3 points just before winning the 2010 Democratic primary election — and former U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, whom Virginia primary voters handed an unexpected defeat in June.

“Four years ago, Gov. Malloy never led in any of the public opinion polls,” he said. “Eric Cantor’s internal polling showed him up over 20 points the day of the election and he got beat by over 10.”

McKinney said he sees momentum on the campaign trail.

“We’re excited that on primary day, with what is probably going to be a low turnout, we’re going to turn out our vote and win,” he said.

The Foley campaign has said its internal polling has suggested Foley is leading in the race by 20 points.

“We believe polling on both sides show that this race is not competitive,” Chris Cooper, a spokesman for the campaign, said.

Foley lost to Malloy in 2010 by only 6,404 votes. Most polling data since then has suggested that voters are still pretty evenly split between Foley and Malloy. The most recent poll, conducted by Republican firm Vox Populi Polling, found Malloy up by 1 point, leading Foley 35 to 34 percent.

An Internet poll conducted by a research firm called YouGov and published by the New York Times last week suggested Foley was ahead of Malloy 42 to 33 percent.

In the May Quinnipiac University poll, Malloy and Foley were deadlocked 43 percent each. The poll showed McKinney trailing Malloy by four points.

At the time the poll was conducted, there were six Republican candidates vying for the nomination and Foley easily led the pack with 39 percent of Republican primary voters surveyed. McKinney trailed with only 8 percent. No public poll has been conducted since the Republican contest narrowed to only Foley and McKinney.