HARTFORD, CT — (Updated 1:30 p.m.) In the race for governor, Democrat Ned Lamont is 13 points ahead of Republican Bob Stefanowski, according to a Quinnipiac University poll. Another poll released Thursday morning shows Lamont with a four point lead.
The Quinnipiac University poll of 1,029 self-identified registered voters found Lamont in the lead with 46 percent of the vote to Republican Bob Stefanowski’s 33 percent. Oz Griebel, who is petitioning his way onto the ballot as an unaffiliated voter, received 4 percent and Libertarian Rod Hanscomb received 1 percent.
Quinnipiac University Poll Director Doug Schwartz said Lamont’s lead is largely due to women “and the fact that this is a Democratic state.”
In a four-way race, Lamont leads Stefanowski 50 to 27 percent among women voters.
The gender gap, according to Schwartz is partly due to Republican President Donald Trump, who has “hurt the Republican brand among women,” Schwartz said.
But it’s early in the campaign.
“You don’t want to count Stefanowski out,” Schwartz said.
He said in 2010 Republican Tom Foley this far behind Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy who only ended up winning that contest by 6,404 votes.
“Three in 10 voters who have not formed an opinion of either candidate,” Schwartz said.
Malloy, who has an approval rating of 25 percent, decided not to seek a third term.
However, Malloy’s decision to increase taxes in 2011 and 2015 and the deal he structured with the state employee unions is like an albatross around the neck of any Democratic candidate.
But if this is going to be a proxy war for the parties,then the question has always been whether Malloy is more unpopular than Trump.
Based on the poll a majority of the voters aren’t viewing the race for governor through that lens.
Schwartz said voters have stronger opinions about Trump than they do about Malloy and “despite disliking the jobs that both of them are doing voters say neither political will affect their vote for governor this year.”
The disapproval numbers for Trump and Malloy are identical at 67 percent. Trump has an approval of 30 percent to Malloy’s 25 percent.
A lot of unaffiliated voters in the state, who make up the largest voting bloc, have yet to make up their minds.
Schwartz said a lot of unaffiliated voters weren’t paying attention to the closed party primaries.
“Independents have not really been tuning in,” Schwartz said. “So now they will be and now is the time for the candidates to define themselves and define their opposition.”
As far as policy is concerned, 49 percent of the voters approve of eliminating the state income tax, which is Stefanowski’s only proposal. However, the poll also found only 35 percent believe it’s a realistic proposal over eight years. Fifty-six percent of voters believe it’s unrealistic.
“Even only half of Republicans believe it’s a realistic goal,” Schwartz said.
A policy that received more support was an increase in the minimum wage. Sixty-three percent of voters support increasing the minimum wage from $10.10 an hour to $15 an hour.
Also 59 percent of voters support allowing adults to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use. Fifty-three percent of voters surveyed last week opposed putting tolls on Connecticut’s highways.
This is the first poll Quinnipiac University Polling Institute has done in Connecticut since June 2016.
Schwartz declined to say why the university took a brief hiatus from polling in its home state of Connecticut. He said the focus has become more national, but they still poll in 10 states.
“We don’t discuss the schedule” of the polls, he added.
Thursday’s poll had a 3.9 percent margin of error.
Q-Poll results for first 2018 political poll on the race for governor and U.S. Senate. CTNewsJunkie.com
Posted by CTNewsJunkie.com on Thursday, August 23, 2018
Meanwhile, there was another poll released Thursday by Sacred Heart University and Hearst Connecticut Media.
The sample size of the poll was about half of Quinnipiac’s but it also found that Lamont was in the lead.
The Sacred Heart University poll showed 40.8 percent of voters supporting Lamont and 36.9 percent supporting Stefanowski. Unaffiliated voters who can’t participate in Connecticut’s primary system were divided in their support with about 29.8 percent supporting Lamont and 29.8 percent supporting Stefanowski.
Lamont’s four point lead in the poll is within the 4.32 percent margin of error.
The poll found a similar gender gap with 49.3 percent of women supporting Lamont and 30.1 percent supporting Stefanowski.
Turns out Lamont and Stefanowski both like the Sacred Heart University poll better.
“Our internal polls and the SHU poll say what we all know,” Stefanowski said. “It’s a very close race in a traditionally Democratic state. The primary was just last week and the race is just beginning. The Quinnipiac poll is a clear outlier.”
Stefanowski’s own pollster was even harsher on Quinnipiac University, which has a stellar reputation in the polling community. Five-Thirty Eight gave it an A- for its performance.
John McLaughlin, CEO of McLaughlin & Associates, said “The SHU poll looks close, our campaign’s internal polling also shows it’s a close race and this is a race that Bob wins with voters who hear his message of lower taxes. The Quinnipiac poll is not statistically valid due to oversampling of Democrats.”
Forty percent of the callers Quinnipiac University sampled were Democrats, 21 percent were Republicans, 33 percent were unaffiliated and 6 percent were other or they didn’t know their party affiliation.
Asked about the polls Thursday, Lamont said he preferred the SHU poll.
“I’m a conservative so I think I’ll look at the Hearst poll,” Lamont said. “I also know there’s a lot of baseball to play here.”