U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes and George Logan debate at CCSU Credit: Mark Mirko/Connecticut Public

Republican George Logan led incumbent U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes by one point in a survey released Thursday by WTNH on the 5th District race, expected to be the most competitive of Connecticut’s congressional seats long held by Democrats.

The poll of 500 likely voters was conducted between Oct. 19 and 21 by Emerson College for News 8 and The Hill. It found Hayes at 47% and Logan at 48%, putting the lead within the poll’s 4.3% margin of error. About 4% of voters reported being undecided on the candidates. 

Thursday’s results represent the first public polling in the race, which has seen more than $7 million in outside spending both by national Republicans, sensing an opportunity to make inroads in traditionally blue Connecticut, and by Democrats, hoping to retain a seat they’ve held since 2006.

The poll finds Logan with a 53% to 38% lead among independent voters. 

Meanwhile, voters seem more familiar with Hayes, a two-term incumbent and former school teacher in Waterbury. Hayes, who was the first Black Connecticut congresswoman when she took office in 2019, held a 51% approval rating in the Emerson poll. Only about 3% of voters reported being unsure about Hayes and none said they had never heard of her. 

Logan, who was the only Black member of the state Senate’s Republican caucus during his two terms in office, was less well-known. About 45% of voters reported having a favorable opinion of Logan, while 12% said they were unsure and almost 7% said they had never heard of him. 

Spencer Kimball, executive director at Emerson College Polling, told WTNH those unfamiliar voters would eventually impact the race. 

“It will be interesting in the next two weeks what happens as voters really tune in and that 20% either likes him or dislikes him,” Kimball said. “That will make the difference in this race.”

The state’s 5th District stretches along the New York border from the northwestern corner of the state down to Danbury and reaches East to include the cities of New Britain and Meriden. 

Though it has often been cited as Connecticut’s most competitive district, President Joe Biden won the district in 2020 when Hayes was easily reelected to a second term, defeating Republican David X. Sullivan by more than 9 points. 

Thursday’s results provide Connecticut Republicans with encouraging polling news in an election cycle that has consistently seen Democrats leading Republicans by double digits in the closely watched governor and U.S. Senate races. 

In an email, Logan’s campaign manager Paul Amarone said the candidate was encouraged by the support he’d received. 

“George is looking forward to working relentlessly for the next 13 days to connect with voters and get out the vote,” Amarone said. “The outpouring of support he’s received has motivated him even more as we hit the final stretch before Election Day.”

In a statement, Hayes’ campaign manager Barbara Ellis said the poll results would not change the campaign’s strategy to encourage voter turn out. Ellis called Logan a “generic Republican” who would help to empower the more extreme elements of his party if elected to Congress.

“We always operate as if we’re down,” Ellis said. “This poll seems to reflect that national trends and the millions of GOP PAC spending against Rep. Hayes are penetrating. Yet, most people who have seen Jahana Hayes and her challenger side by side– or look at their records– walk away seeing Hayes as the stronger candidate, as the candidate that is more invested in every part of the district.”