FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- Greenwich businessman Tom Foley dominates the crowded Republican primary field in the race for Connecticut governor and is locked in a dead heat with Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday.
Malloy, a former Stamford mayor, and Foley, who lost narrowly to Malloy in the 2010 gubernatorial election, are tied at 42 percent to 42 percent, the Quinnipiac University poll said.
"Haven't we seen this movie before? A potential rematch of Gov. Dannel Malloy vs. Tom Foley couldn't get any closer," said Douglas Schwartz, director of the Quinnipiac University poll, in a statement.
Malloy's office downplayed the results of the poll conducted eight months before the election.
“We have tried to be consistent in not saying much about polls because, what’s there to say? Polls come and go, numbers go up and down," said Andrew Doba, Malloy's director of communications, in a statement. "The governor always does what he thinks is best for the state and the right thing to do.”
Connecticut Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola, Jr. praised the poll results.
“The numbers speak for themselves: Connecticut’s unemployment rate has remained significantly higher than the national average for over 20 consecutive months, 30,000 fewer Connecticut residents are working today than when Dan Malloy took office, the tax burden on our families is among the highest in the nation, and our economy remains among the worst in the nation," Labriola said in a statement.
“Dan Malloy’s failure to fix Connecticut’s economy has made him one of the nation’s most unpopular governors, with an approval rating that has never gone above 50 percent. Despite going on the offensive over the past few months, proposing cheap election-year gimmicks in a desperate attempt to save his re-election chances, Governor Malloy has been unable to convince voters that he deserves a second term."
The poll found a large gender gap: Women back Malloy 45 percent to 37 percent while men go for Foley 48 percent to 39 percent, the poll finds. Foley leads 83 percent to 9 percent among Republicans and 45 percent to 33 percent among independent voters while Malloy takes Democrats 79 percent to 10 percent.
Malloy gets a 48 percent approval rating from Connecticut voters, while 45 percent disapprove. Voters are divided 45 percent to 46 percent on whether he should be re-elected, the poll said.
Foley leads the Republican field with 36 percent. His nearest competitor is Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, with 11 percent. No other candidate tops 6 percent and 35 percent of Republican voters remain undecided.
"Foley dominates other Republicans vying for the nomination, who have little statewide recognition," Schwartz said. "One potential problem for Foley is if he gets bloodied during the primary process. For Malloy, perhaps the biggest worry is that he's never been able to get over 50 percent in job approval - a danger sign for any incumbent."
Malloy tops other possible Republican challengers by margins ranging from 6 percentage points to 11 percentage points.
Other GOP candidates include Senate Minority Leader John McKinney of Fairfield, Joe Visconti of West Hartford, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, and state Sen. Toni Boucher of Wilton.
The poll of 1,878 registered voters was conducted from Feb. 26 to March 2. It has a margin of error of 4.5 percent.
It is the first time Quinnipiac has conducted a poll on the Connecticut governor’s race since June 2013. In that poll, Foley let 43 percent to Malloy's 40 percent. Read about it here on the Daily Voice.