Ask Gail LeBeau how the Connecticut economy has fared over the last 12 months and you\u2019ll hear an unvarnished response: Lousy and getting worse. She\u2019s hardly alone, as 52 percent of likely voters in the upcoming election said the state\u2019s economy has deteriorated since the fall of 2021, in a new CT Insider\/Channel 3 Eyewitness News\/Western New England University poll. Rising prices, of course, drove the bus on that question. That compares with just 17 percent who said the state\u2019s economy has gotten better and 28 percent who said it\u2019s about the same over the last year. Voters were slightly more pleased with the direction of their own household's finances, with 43 percent saying their situations had grown worse and 41 percent saying they had stayed about the same \u2013 but still only 15 percent who said their households were better off now than a year ago. \u00a0That illustrates the theory that many people believe bad news is rampant even if they aren\u2019t experiencing it themselves. So it\u2019s a downbeat picture as we head into the last five weeks before the Nov. 8 election. Click here to see complete results of the poll. But the dour views by voters are not having a dramatic effect on how they will cast their ballots in the contest for governor, according to the poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points. That\u2019s bad news for Bob Stefanowski, the Republican candidate for governor, who has cris-crossed the state this year telling anyone who will listen that prosperity is battered, people are struggling and the economy is moving in the wrong direction. LeBeau, a resident of senior housing in Stamford, agrees with Stefanowski. \u201cI believe the economy got bad,\u201d LeBeau told me over the weekend. Gov. Ned Lamont, seeking a second, 4-year term in office, sells optimism by the truckload. He points to large gains in the number of people working and the number of businesses starting up; a sharp drop in unemployment; a rise in the number of people moving in; resiliency of the housing market; and many other signs of progress, even as he agrees many families are hurting. You might think voters such as LeBeau would flock to Stefanowski, the diviner of doom, considering that nearly half cited pocketbook issues as their No. 1 concern in the upcoming election \u2013 inflation, the economy and the cost of living; or taxes and government spending. You would be wrong about LeBeau and many others who agree with Stefanowski that the economy is falling but have no intention of marking his name on their ballots. \u201cIf this guy comes in, we\u2019re going to be deathly in a lot of trouble,\u201d said LeBeau, who tends to vote for Democrats. \u201cYou know why the economy got bad? Because of Covid\u2026If people can\u2019t understand that then they need to grow up.\u201d She even said the economy had improved under Lamont, meaning, when I pressed her on it, that she felt it got less bad than it would have. \u2018Two Connecticuts\u2019 on the economy To be sure, Stefanowski has many supporters who favor his views and his bid for the governor\u2019s office. \u201cOf course it\u2019s gotten worse. Look who\u2019s leading our economy. The Democrats. Everything they do stinks,\u201d said a retired registered nurse named Claire, in the New Haven area, who participated in the poll. \u201cWith the prices going up it doesn\u2019t balance out.\u201d Overall, a look at the numbers in the CT Insider\/Channel 3 Eyewitness News\/Western New England University poll, which was taken between Sept. 15 and 21, show a clear pattern: Even as a raft of data shows the state is doing okay, voters agree strongly with Stefanowski on the key issues of prosperity and crime in Connecticut. Regardless, they favored Lamont by 55 percent to 40 percent in the CT Insider\/Channel 3 (WFSB) poll, which was similar to the results of a Quinnipiac University poll that was also done in September.\u00a0 Opinions of likely voters on how the Connecticut economy had fared over the previous year varied widely by party. Among Republicans, 75 percent said it was worse and only 6 percent said it had improved, while 18 percent said it had stayed the same.\u00a0 Among Democrats, the split was more even, with a plurality for the naysayers: 34 percent said it had gone down hill, 30 percent said it had improved and 29 percent said it had stayed the same. \u201cDemocrats and Republicans see two very different Connecticuts when it comes to the state\u2019s economy,\u201d said Tim Vercellotti, director of the Western New England University Polling Institute and professor of political science there. People who identified themselves as unaffiliated voters were, as you\u2019d expect, somewhere in the middle but a majority of them, 53 percent, gave the thumbs down to the Connecticut economy of the last year. College graduates were less likely to say the state\u2019s economy had gotten worse (39 percent) than people with a high school education or less (66 percent).\u00a0 Men and women were split evenly. Not blaming Lamont for woes Now let\u2019s dive behind the headline numbers for a look at how hard it will be for Stefanowski and his running mate, state Rep. Laura Devlin, R-Fairfield, to turn this trend around. Among the likely voters who said the economy has gotten better or stayed about the same, Lamont gained the support of 85 percent of them.\u00a0 Among a larger group of likely voters who said the economy had gotten worse or stayed the same, Stefanowski pulled in just 47 percent. \u00a0 That tells us Stefanowski isn\u2019t winning the votes of the very people who agree with him on the signature issue of his campaign. The opposite is not true. Among the voters who said the economy has improved, only 8 percent called themselves Stefanowski supporters. Ninety-one percent planned to vote for Lamont. Why is this happening? Many of those naysayers, like LeBeau, are Democrats or unaffiliated voters in Lamont\u2019s camp for other reasons. The economy simply isn\u2019t the defining issue for that group, Vercellotti speculated. \u201cThe other possible explanation may be that voters don't hold governors as accountable for the economy as they do presidents,\u201d he said. The conundrum for Stefanowski and other Republicans stems from a basic contradiction: Republicans blame inflation on the Democrats, as it\u2019s happening on their watch. But many factors affect rising prices. They include the bounceback from the pandemic shutdown that shocked the global supply chain and an $8 trillion debt that former President Donald Trump ran up \u2013 along with President Joe Biden\u2019s oversized pandemic stimulus spending. Stefanowski\u2019s steep challenge The poll numbers are stark. Twenty-seven percent of voters who said the state\u2019s economy is worse also said they intend to vote for Lamont, or they lean toward supporting him. A hefty chunk of the economic naysayers and a hefty chunk of those who say their own household finances have worsened \u2013 26 percent of both groups \u2013 even said they viewed Lamont favorably, Vercellotti calculated. And among those who said the state's economy has remained about where it was over the last 12 months, support for Lamont is overwhelming, at 80 percent.\u00a0 Stefanowski needs to somehow pick off more of these econo-pessimist and econo-neutral Lamont backers \u2013 a lot more \u2013 if he\u2019s going to pull off a come-from-behind upset. And the same pattern holds true for crime: Voters strongly agreed with Stefanowski that their towns are less safe over the last four years, but still sided with Lamont as a candidate. The upshot: Voters agree with Stefanowski by wide margins on the exact issues he is pushing. They are buying his ideas, maybe thanks to his message, maybe not.\u00a0 But they are not buying Stefanowski in great enough numbers. That\u2019s a bad sign for the challenger, as it shows that he needs to find some other way to gain ground, beyond persuading voters that he\u2019s correct on the key issues.