Democrat Ned Lamont SOM ’80 is the current frontrunner in the Connecticut gubernatorial race, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released last Wednesday.
Surveying 767 likely Connecticut voters from Oct. 3 to Oct. 8, the poll reports Lamont having an eight point — 47 to 39 percent — lead over Republican hopeful Bob Stefanowski. The poll also found support for independent candidate Oz Griebel at roughly 11 percent, a figure much higher than those in previous polls.
“Ned Lamont is ahead in the governor’s race, but with 27 days to go, Bob Stefanowski is within striking distance,” said Douglas Schwartz, director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, in a statement accompanying the Wednesday release.
Other polls in the last few months indicate that Lamont’s support may be rising. A September poll conducted by Sacred Heart University, which surveyed 501 likely voters from Sept. 12 to Sept. 17, found Lamont with a six point lead over Stefanowski. The poll did not directly measure support for Griebel, but 16.2 percent of respondents said they were still unsure of their vote.
An August poll by Sacred Heart, which also surveyed likely voters, reported a four point lead for Lamont among respondents.
Radio host and Connecticut political pundit Colin McEnroe ’76 called Quinnipiac the “gold-standard” poll in an August interview with the News. Additionally, the Quinnipiac University Poll has a positive rating from data analytics site fivethirtyeight.com, which ranks pollsters based on methodology and historical accuracy.
According to Gary Rose, political science professor at Sacred Heart University and frequent Connecticut debate panelist, the most notable result from Quinnipiac’s recent poll is the rise of the third-party candidate: Griebel’s 11 percent share is by far the highest poll number in his campaign. Rose said Griebel’s performance in recent debates — along with general public dissatisfaction with the major-party candidates — is starting to swing momentum towards his campaign. In particular, Rose said Griebel’s rhetoric and positions are likely to draw more from potential Lamont voters than from Stefanowski voters.
Griebel, a former Republican who ran for governor in 2010 and finished third in the Republican primary, is more popular among Democrats than Republicans, according to the Quinnipiac poll. 15 percent of Republicans said they disapproved of Griebel, compared to just 6 percent of Democrats. Still, Griebel is most popular among independent voters — winning approval by a margin of 23 to 7 percent.
“Because he ran [for governor] as a Republican back in 2010, I thought I was going to hear Republican rhetoric at the debates, but I don’t,” Rose said. “He probably has Lamont a little more concerned than he was to start.”
Around 72 percent of those surveyed this month said they have not heard enough about Griebel to form an opinion.
In a Wednesday tweet responding to the Quinnipiac poll results, Griebel’s running mate Monte Frank said Connecticut does not like the major-party candidates, noting that he and Griebel are moving up.
“Game on, CT!” Frank wrote in the Tweet.
Lamont’s polling lead stems primarily from his significant advantage among likely female voters, according to the Quinnipiac poll results. In this category, he leads Stefanowski 53 to 31 percent, while Lamont trails Stefanowski among likely male voters by five percentage points. The September Sacred Heart University poll reported similar leads for Lamont among women.
However, Rose said he thinks Stefanowski is unlikely to make any headway in the women’s vote due to the GOP’s historical unpopularity among females in Connecticut. Rose noted that Stefanowski might try to increase his lead among male voters.
Among independent voters — which account for roughly 40 percent of Connecticut’s voting population — Lamont led Stefanowski by six points, 42 to 36 percent, while Griebel commanded 18 percent of their support in the Quinnipiac poll. Due to the sheer volume of registered Democrats, Stefanowski must win a substantial amount of unaffiliated voters before the election to have a chance of winning.
As of Nov. 1, 2017, Connecticut, a historically blue state, had 848,493 registered Democratic voters compared to just 481,336 registered Republican voters. Despite these imbalances, Republicans have done well in state-level races. The Connecticut governorship was held by Republicans from 1995 to 2011. In addition, after decades of a strong Democratic majority, the state senate is currently split 18–18 between the two parties.
The Quinnipiac University poll also surveyed the Connecticut gubernatorial race in late August, garnering responses from over 1,000 registered voters from Aug. 16 to Aug. 21. In that poll, Lamont led Stefanowski by a 13 point margin, 46 percent to 33 percent. Griebel’s support in that poll only stood around 4 percent.
In the Oct. 10 press release, the pollster emphasized that past polls should not be directly compared because of differing methodology. The most recent poll surveyed likely voters — registered voters who are expected to vote based on statistical analyses — while the August poll surveyed exclusively registered voters.
Over one-fifth of those surveyed in the Oct. 10 Quinnipiac poll reported they might change their mind before the election, while over three-fifths of those who supported Griebel were considering switching their votes before November.
Conor Johnson | firstname.lastname@example.org