Recent headlines shouted that Ned Lamont leads Bob Stefanowski by 46 percent to 33 percent—the first major poll in the race for Governor. Really good news for Lamont? Not exactly.
When you look behind the headlines and examine details of the poll you find that Stefanowski beat Lamont among unaffiliated voters by 37 percent to 30 percent. Unaffiliated voters are the largest bloc of voters in the state. How could that have happened? Will the strength of the unaffiliated be sufficient to swing the election to Stefanowski?
Stefanowski has not yet really introduced himself to the majority of voters in Connecticut. His focus had been on winning the Republican primary. On the other hand, Lamont has had the benefit of participating in three election cycles. As a result, Lamont, given his wide advantage of name recognition in a Democratic state should, at this point, be way out in front with unaffiliated voters as well as, of course, with Democratic voters.
Why isn’t Lamont way ahead with the unaffiliated? I believe the answer is that voters are open to new ideas and actually are looking for new ideas. The old ones have not worked out all that well. This means that there is a a clear campaign avenue open to Setefanowski if he will avail himself of it.
We are a Land of Steady Habits.The majority of the voting public does not want to go to either to the far left or the far right. Tax and spend is not going to sell in this election cycle.
The voting public is waiting for a candidate to not only tell it like it is but to promise NO MORE TAXES with a realistically doable plan for economic development. Make Connecticut stand for something. We are no longer the “Insurance State” and we need a new, positive identity.
Will Stefanowski bring a new identity to the table?
Connecticut has great universities and colleges, and fantastic medical facilities. Perhaps Connecticut as the Healthcare State would work: we can connect you with all the infrastructure and professionals needed to achieve success. The Aerospace Manufacturers Association has dubbed the Connecticut River Valley as “Aerospace Alley.” Perhaps that could be expanded in some way to encompass the entire state.
The polls show that the door is open for new thinking. Stefanowski up by seven among the unaffiliated, at this point, tells an important story. It remains to be seen whether he can run a campaign to attract centrists—without going hard right in an effort to secure Trump supporters.
The polls show the opportunity is clearly there. The voters want positive change and no more taxes.
Edward L. Marcus is former chairman of the Democratic State Central Committee in Connecticut and former State Senate majority leader.
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