FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- With voters saying that the Republican candidate will be better on spending and the economy, challenger Tom Foley is ahead of Gov. Dannel Malloy in the Connecticut governor's race, according to the latest Quinnipiac University Poll.
Eight weeks before Election Day, Foley is leading at 46 percent to Malloy's 40 percent, according to the poll released Wednesday.
Likely voters in Connecticut say Foley would do a better job than Malloy in handling the two top issues, the economy/jobs and government spending, the poll found.
"In our first likely voter poll, Tom Foley has the edge, but Gov. Dannel Malloy is certainly within striking distance," said Douglas Schwartz, director of the Quinnipiac University poll. "Foley has a double-digit lead among the key swing group, independent voters. With eight weeks until Election Day, there are 6 percent undecided and another 30 percent who say they could change their mind."
But Schwartz cited Malloy's favorability as a possible issue.
"A difficult problem for Malloy to overcome is his high negative favorability rating, as 53 percent say they have an unfavorable opinion of him, including 40 percent 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 percent have an unfavorable opinion of Foley."
Foley leads 82 percent vs. 9 percent among Republicans and 48 percent vs. 35 percent among independent voters. Malloy takes Democrats 77 percent to 10 percent, the poll finds.
Malloy's 45 percent vs. 38 percent lead with women is offset by Foley's 54 percent vs. 35 percent lead among men.
Joe Visconti, running as an independent candidate, gets 7 percent of the vote. When the race is recalculated without Visconti, Foley leads Malloy 49 percent vs. 43 percent.
Among Connecticut likely voters who name a candidate, 69 percent say their mind is made up, while 30 percent say they might change their mind by Election Day. Their minds are made up, say 68 percent of Malloy voters and 77 percent of Foley backers, while 75 percent of Visconti supporters say they might change their mind.
Connecticut likely voters have a negative 40 percent vs. 53 percent favorability rating of Malloy. Foley gets a positive 42 percent vs. 33 percent favorability rating. For Visconti, 89 percent don't know enough about him to form an opinion.
The economy/jobs matters most in their vote for governor, 40 percent of likely voters say, while 19 percent list government spending and 16 percent list taxes.
Foley would do a better job than Malloy handling these top issues, voters say:
- 54 percent vs. 37 percent on the economy and jobs;
- 59 percent vs. 31 percent on taxes;
- 54 percent vs. 36 percent on finding the right balance between needed and unneeded government spending.
Looking at Malloy's character traits, Connecticut voters say:
- 51 percent vs. 38 percent that he is honest and trustworthy;
- 48 percent that he cares about their needs and problems, while 46 percent say he doesn't care;
- 57 percent vs. 38 percent that he has strong leadership qualities.
Looking at Foley's character, voters say:
- 44 percent vs. 28 percent that he is honest and trustworthy;
- 46 percent vs. 35 percent that he cares about their needs and problems;
- 53 percent vs. 24 percent that he has strong leadership qualities.
"Foley leads Malloy in large part because he is viewed by most voters as better able to handle pocketbook issues. 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.
The poll was conducted from Sept. 3 to 8 with 1,304 likely voters with a margin of error of 2.7 percentage points.
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