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‘It’s the stupid economy’, new poll shows tighter races for Governor and Senate

Even after decades of high inflation, a pandemic, and the reversal of Roe v. Wade, a new poll commissioned by CT Examiner suggests a close race for Connecticut governor that mirrors results four years ago between Democrat Ned Lamont and Republican Bob Stefanowski.

In a three-way contest, Gov. Ned Lamont leads Bob Stefanowski 46% to 40%, with 5% opting for Independent Party candidate Rob Hotaling and 10% undecided according to the nonpartisan poll released Saturday.

The CT Examiner/Fabrizio, Lee & Associates poll, conducted October 10-13, surveyed 1,200 likely voters and has a margin of error of +/- 2.8%.

The numbers suggest a significantly closer race and greater voter familiarity with Stefanowski than an earlier Quinnipiac University poll of 1,911 likely voters, conducted Sept. 15-19, that did not include Hotaling.

“Obviously, the economy is the thing that people are concerned about and it’s the thing that they notice,” said Steven Moore, a professor of political science at Wesleyan University.

Data from CT Examiner/Fabrizio, Lee & Associates shows that 24% of likely voters identify inflation as the most important issue in determining their choice of governor, followed by jobs/economy at 14% and the 11% abortion.

“Inflation and general pessimism about the state of the economy are creating real headwinds for Democrats, and that extends to a state like Connecticut,” Professor Wesleyan Logan Dancey said.

Dancey told CT Examiner that the results of the governor’s race were what he expected.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if Lamont surpassed what he did in 2018,” Dancey said.

Paul Herrson, a political scientist at the University of Connecticut, said Lamont’s lead over Stefanowski, if sustained, would actually be a “big win” given the pandemic and the economy “isn’t doing so well.” .

“People’s lives have been massively disrupted, and if you’re president or governor of [the] State, you are the lightning rod for people’s discontent,” Herrson said.

Onotse Omoyeni, press secretary for the Lamont campaign, said the poll showed Stefanowski’s positions on social issues had a negative effect on the Republican’s popularity.

“The Governor remains focused on the work of growing Connecticut’s economy, bringing relief to Connecticut families and getting our fiscal house in order,” Omoyeni said in a statement to CT Examiner. “As has been clear throughout this race, Bob’s extreme anti-choice, anti-gun stances — coupled with his consistent negativity — continue to turn voters against his candidacy.”

But Stefanowski said in a statement that the poll results were good news for his campaign and reflected increased support for his candidacy.

“This investigation demonstrates the momentum I have felt on the ground for weeks. Governor Lamont had four years to fix the state and he failed. Higher taxes make inflation worse, people feel less secure, and our state’s economy collapses,” Stefanowski told CT Examiner. “Every day more and more people are realizing that one-party rule is failing us and that it is time for a change. Laura Devlin and I have detailed plans to make CT more affordable and safer on day one and are looking forward to the final weeks of this race.

According to the new poll, President Joe Biden’s approval/disapproval among likely voters in Connecticut mirrors national polls, at 43% approval to 53% disapproval, but Stefanowski was only the choice of 70% of those. negative respondents.

The latest polls also suggest few likely voters are splitting their ballots, at least at the state and national level, with Senator Richard Blumenthal leading challenger Leora Levy by a margin of just 5 points, 49% to 44%. with 7% undecided – numbers that surprised Dancey.

“I would have expected a bigger lead for Blumenthal,” Dancey said.

Ty McEachern, spokesman for Sen. Blumenthal’s campaign, said Blumenthal will continue to push forward.

“Senator Blumenthal is striving to be Connecticut’s choice for Senate while his opponent is Donald Trump’s choice,” McEachern said in a statement. “As always, he is focused on his job, delivering results for the people of Connecticut. He will continue to work as if he were 10 points behind.

According to Dancey, the tight numbers for the Senate race could tip more in Blumenthal’s favor as people “tune in” to what’s going on.

Leora Levy’s campaign said the numbers reflect Levy’s popularity among voters.

“It took until mid-October, but finally a public inquiry reflects the reality of this race: Leora Levy is in a margin-of-error race, neck and neck with Dick Blumenthal, a career politician of thirty “Seven years ahead. Dick Blumenthal is below 50% despite spending more than $5.3 million on advertising since mid-June,” Levy campaign spokesman Tim Saler said. in a press release.

Herrson said he was also struck by the number of voters who said abortion was the most important issue, given the usual prominence of economic issues.

“I don’t always like to quote the Clinton campaign, but ‘It’s the economy, you idiot.’ And the economy is almost always at the top of voters’ minds,” Herrson said. “For abortion to be so close to jobs and the economy, it’s a really big deal.

Moore said he, too, did not expect abortion to be such a big issue in Connecticut because of the state’s liberal abortion laws. But looking at polling data, he said abortion appeared to be a bigger issue for Democrats than for Republican voters in this race.

“It was clear that the pro-life vote was actually much more likely to say they were concerned about the economy,” Moore said.

Even though abortion isn’t the deciding issue for many voters, according to the new poll, female voters likely prefer Lamont, 55% to 36%, and Blumenthal, 56% to 36%.

When asked if it was possible for any Connecticut gubernatorial candidate to win by the double digits, as last month’s poll suggested, given the current polarization, Moore said that at the elections approached, voters tended to “go home” to vote for their favorite political parties. .

“The heightened polarization counteracts accountability to some extent,” Moore said. “You really don’t need to argue your case based on your case. You just need to assert that you are not the other person.

This is the first election poll sponsored by CT Examiner, a nearly four-year-old online media startup. The nonpartisan poll was conducted by Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, an Alexandria, Va.-based pollster with a list of corporate and Republican clients. Fabrizio previously served as chief pollster for 5 presidential campaigns and in 2017 was named “Polluter of the Year” by the American Association of Political Consultants.

The survey is based on a random sample of adults contacted by cell phone (35%), by text to the web (35%) and 30% by landline. Questions and crosstabs are available here and here.