This weekend, Gov. Dannel Malloy will join a small club: Democratic governors willing to campaign alongside President Barack Obama ahead of next Tuesday’s election.
While Obama’s low approval ratings have caused some Democrats to distance themselves in the run-up to the midterms, Malloy plans to campaign with both the president and First Lady Michelle Obama. The two Obamas plan to come to Connecticut this weekend on separate visits.
Obama had planned to visit to Bridgeport, Conn. last week to rally for Malloy, but the event was cancelled at the last minute as the administration worked to halt the spread of Ebola. The Connecticut Democratic Party announced last week that the president had rescheduled his visit to Connecticut for this Sunday — two days before the polls open. Meanwhile, the first lady, who recently released a radio ad in support of Malloy, plans to make an appearance at a New Haven rally in support of Malloy this Thursday at Wilbur Cross High School, the New Haven Independent reported.
Malloy is currently locked in one of the tightest gubernatorial races across the country. According to a Quinnipiac poll released this week, Malloy and Republican candidate Tom Foley are within one percentage point of each other in terms of voter support.
“If the president can move half a percent of the electorate towards Malloy, then I think its’s a win for Malloy,” said Patrick Scully, a Democrat who served as Mayor Toni Harp’s communications director during her campaign last year.
With his approval rating hovering just above 40 percent in the latest Gallup survey, Obama has been far from the first choice for many Democrats caught in tight races and looking for a campaigning partner. With Democrats struggling to retain control of the Senate, some party members have suggested that the president’s low approval ratings could damage their prospects for victory.
But New Haven Democrats and Republicans alike said that the president’s visit would not necessarily hurt Malloy’s prospects for re-election. Scully said that the president’s endorsement “definitely won’t hurt” Malloy.
Amalia Halikias ’15, a member of the Yale College Republicans, agreed with Scully, noting that Obama is still relatively popular in the state. According to a Quinnipiac poll conducted this March, the president had an approval rating of 45 percent, but was still overwhelmingly popular among Democrats with 80 percent of registered Democrats approving of his performance.
In addition to affecting who voters will favor, Obama’s visit could also impact voter turnout overall, said Rachel Miller ’15, the co-president of Yale’s chapter of the Roosevelt Institute — a national progressive think-tank for college students. She said that the president’s visit will likely inspire more Connecticut residents to vote next Tuesday, though she was unsure of how the visit would impact Malloy’s support overall.
Members of the Yale College Democrats said that instead of actually attending the president’s rally on Sunday, they will instead focus their efforts on encouraging voters to go out and vote for Malloy. Dems communications director Lily Sawyer-Kaplan ’17, however, said some members plan on attending the rally with the first lady on Thursday.
The president plans to rally in five other states this week including Michigan, Wisconsin, Maine, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania.