Lamont boasts 10-point lead over Stefanowski in latest Emerson/WTNH poll
Gov. Ned Lamont has a 10 percentage point lead over Republican Bob Stefanowski in an Emerson College Polling survey released Tuesday morning, providing the first public polling snapshot of the Connecticut governor’s race since May.
The survey of 1,000 voters conducted for WTNH and The Hill between Sept. 7 and 9 found Lamont leading Stefanowski, 48.5% to 38.4%, with 9% percent undecided two months before the election Nov. 8. Four percent favored someone else.
Despite months of television advertising, Emerson’s poll shows little movement from its survey conducted on May 10 and 11, which found Lamont leading Stefanowski, 51% to 38%, with 12% undecided.
The new survey comes as voters are bombarded by television advertising by two well-financed campaigns and several super PACs, mostly offering harshly negative assessments of the first-term Democratic governor and his Republican challenger.
Emerson found Lamont to be weathering the ad assault better than Stefanowski. The first-term Democratic governor’s favorable/unfavorable rating was 55% to 40%, while voters split on the GOP challenger, 45% to 45%.
Asked who was more trustworthy, 56.7% chose Lamont and 43.3% named Stefanowski.
Advancing Connecticut, a super PAC funded by the Republican Governors Association, recently upped its budget for attacks on Lamont by $500,000, to $1.5 million. CT Truth PAC, funded by two businessmen, has spent $1.6 million opposing Lamont.
The Democratic Governors Association has invested $2.75 million in its own super PAC, Stronger CT, for ads attacking Stefanowski.
Lamont benefits from a considerable gender gap in the Emerson poll, with an 18-point lead among women. His lead among men was less than 3 points.
A Quinnipiac University poll released on May 26 had Lamont with a narrower lead, 51% to 43%.
Connecticut’s last three gubernatorial races were closer: Democrat Dannel P. Malloy won an open seat in 2010 by less than a percentage point and was reelected in 2014 by 2.6 points. Lamont won by 3 points in 2018.
WTNH says the results released Tuesday are the first of three from the same Sept. 7-9 survey.
The Emerson poll found voters divided when asked, “Do you think things in Connecticut are generally headed in the right direction or do you feel the state is on the wrong track?” They favored “right direction,” 52.6% to 47.4%.
High inflation generally disadvantages incumbents, but Lamont has benefitted from a turnaround in state finances boosted by higher tax revenues and federal aid during the pandemic.
Lamont took office facing a projected deficit, but recent surpluses allowed the administration to cut taxes this year and pay down Connecticut’s unfunded pension liability, among the worst in the U.S.
His latest ad shares credit with the legislature’s GOP minority: “Working together– that’s how we turned a huge budget deficit into record surplus, paid down our debt, saving our kids and grandkids billions.”
Using different methodologies, Quinnipiac and Emerson each get accuracy grades of A- from the political data site, FiveThirtyEight.com. The grades are based on how closely polls conducted within 21 days of an election came to the actual results.
In 2018, Emerson was off by just two-tenths of a point in calling the victory margin of U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy’s reelection, less so in Lamont’s first win. It had Lamont with a 6-point advantage, double the actual margin.
Quinnipiac relies on live interviews with voters on landlines and cell phones, while Emerson collects its data using automated questions to likely voters on landlines and cell phones, plus an online panel.
The margin of error in the Emerson survey is plus or minus 3 percentage points.