Governor’s race: Challenger Foley leads Malloy by 6% in new poll

Connecticut likely voters say Tom Foley, the Republican challenger in the governor’s race, would do a better job than Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, the Democrat, handling two top issues — the economy/jobs and government spending.

Likely voters give Foley a 46%-40% lead over the incumbent eight weeks before Election Day, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Sept. 10.

In a poll released by Quinnipiac nearly four years ago — when the same two men were running to replace Gov. M. Jodi Rell — Malloy led Foley 50%-41%, with 8% undecided. Malloy ended up winning the race by half a percentage point.

“Foley leads Malloy in large part because he is viewed by most voters as better able to handle pocketbook issues,” said Douglas Schwartz, Quinnipiac University poll director.

“Voters think Foley is better able than Malloy to handle their top issue — the economy and jobs. Foley also has big leads on taxes and government spending, while Malloy has small leads on gun policy and education," Schwartz said.

Men vs. women preferences

Foley leads 82%-9% among Republicans and 48%-35% among independent voters, while Malloy takes Democrats 77%-10%, the independent Quinnipiac University poll finds. This survey of likely voters cannot be compared to earlier surveys of registered voters, according to Quinnipiac.

Malloy’s 45%-38% lead among women is offset by Foley’s 54%-35% lead among men.

Joe Visconti, running as an independent candidate, gets 7% of the vote. When the race is recalculated without Visconti, Foley leads Malloy by 49%-43%. Visconti had initially sought the Republican nomination for governor.

Among Connecticut likely voters who name a candidate, 69% say their mind is made up, while 30% say they might change their mind by Election Day. Their minds are made up, say 68% of Malloy voters and 77% of Foley backers, while 75% of Visconti supporters say they might change their mind.

Malloy ‘within striking distance’

“In our first likely voter poll, Tom Foley has the edge but Gov. Dannel Malloy is certainly within striking distance,” Schwartz said.

“Foley has a double-digit lead among the key swing group, independent voters,” Schwartz said. “With eight weeks until Election Day, there are 6% undecided and another 30% who say they could change their mind.”

Poor favorability numbers for Malloy

“A difficult problem for Malloy to overcome is his high negative favorability rating, as 53% say they have an unfavorable opinion of him, including 40% who say they have a strongly unfavorable opinion,” Schwartz said.

“It is tough for a well-known incumbent to change voter opinion once formed. In contrast, only 33% have an unfavorable opinion of Foley,” he said.

Connecticut likely voters have a negative 40%-53% favorability rating of Malloy. Foley gets a positive 42%-33% favorability rating. For Visconti, 89% don’t know enough about him to form an opinion.

Most important issues

The economy/jobs matters most in their vote for governor, 40% of likely voters say, while 19% list government spending and 16% list taxes.

would do a better job than Malloy handling these top issues, voters say:

• 54%-37% on the economy and jobs;

• 59%-31% on taxes;

• 54%-36% on finding the right balance between needed and unneeded government spending.

Looking at Malloy’s character traits, Connecticut voters say:

• 51%-38% that he is honest and trustworthy;

• 48% that he cares about their needs and problems, while 46% say he doesn’t care;

• 57%-38% that he has strong leadership qualities.

Looking at Foley’s character, voters say:

• 44%-28% that he is honest and trustworthy;

• 46%-35% that he cares about their needs and problems;

• 53%-24% that he has strong leadership qualities.

From Sept. 3 to 8, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,304 likely voters with a margin of error of plus-minus 2.7 percentage points.

The Quinnipiac University Poll conducts public opinion surveys in Connecticut and elsewhere as a public service and for research.