A year after his heated race for re-election, Gov. Malloy’s voter satisfaction rating has dropped, according to a poll released by Quinnipiac University on Oct. 15.
The poll of 1,735 Connecticut voters shows that Malloy’s voter satisfaction rating has decreased by 11 points in the past seven months — from 47 percent to 36 percent. The poll asked voters to evaluate Malloy’s performance as governor, as well as give their outlook on his future performance. While 64 percent of registered Democrats polled said that they approved of the way Malloy is handling his job as governor, only 17 percent of Republicans agreed. And though some city leaders expressed shock at Malloy’s dropping approval rate, director of the Quinnipiac University Poll Doug Schwartz said the poll results were unsurprising.
“When people are not happy with the economy, they blame the governor,” Schwartz said.
The 36-percent voter satisfaction rate is one of the lowest numbers recorded for a governor since Quinnipiac University started conducting polls in the 1970s, Schwartz said. He attributed the drop in the polls to voters’ dissatisfaction with the economy.
Schwartz said negative opinions about the economy stemmed from citizens’ disapproval with Malloy’s tax and budget policies. He added that only 19 percent of over 1,000 registered voters approved of Malloy’s $102 million budget cut, which planned to draw money from executive, legislative and judicial branches, as well as from the municipal aid budget.
The poll also asked the voters to name what they believed was the most important problem facing Connecticut. Seven out of 10 voters listed economic issues, such as concerns about taxes, the budget and the deficit among their chief concerns, Schwartz said.
Malloy’s character ratings, which included reviews on his leadership and trustworthiness, also dropped to negative marks.
“There’s really no good news for the governor in this release,” Schwartz said.
But despite negative ratings, it is unclear how the poll results will affect Malloy’s plans going forward, Schwartz said, adding that Malloy has not yet indicated if he will seek re-election in 2018.
Andrew Gooch, a postdoctoral associate from Yale’s Institution of Social and Policy Studies, echoed Schwartz’ view that the polling rate is closely related to the state of the economy. However, Gooch added that poll numbers for a political candidate tend to drop over time. Gooch said the decrease in approval rating could be due to candidates’ tendency to “overpromise.” When candidates do not follow through with promises made during their campaigns, voters grow disappointed, Gooch said.
He added that low polling rates could have a negative impact on an incumbent’s political clout, and could discourage potential campaign donors when the incumbent tries to raise funds for a re-election campaign.
Gooch said if the numbers remain low, Malloy may decide not to run for re-election.
“Other democratic candidates might decide to join the race because they think they would have a better chance of beating the incumbent in the primary,” Gooch said.
Mayor Toni Harp expressed surprise at Malloy’s rating. She said that Malloy had consistently provided overwhelming support to New Haven, citing the $1 million recently distributed by the state for the city’s Second Chance Society — a re-entry program for former prisoners who committed nonviolent offenses.
“New Haven is very supportive of the governor’s work, so I’m very surprised by the low approval rating,” Harp said. “But I’m optimistic because it’s only the first year of his new term, and he still has three years in office to continue working on his policy.”
Quinnipiac University conducts regular surveys about governors’ approval ratings in nine states.