Saturday, October 30, 2010

CT-Gov tightens up

There's been a huge movement in the Connecticut Governor's race over the last month and the race is now a toss up, with Republican Tom Foley inching ahead of Democrat Dan Malloy by a 49-47 margin after trailing 50-40 in early October.

A look inside the numbers makes it clear that attacks on Malloy, rather than an increase in voter affection toward Foley, are what has made this race so competitive in the final days. A month ago Foley's favorability rating was 41/40 and now it's almost identical at 41/38. Voters aren't really warming up to him. But Malloy's numbers have seen a precipitous drop. At the beginning of the month he posted a stellar 50/29 favorability spread and that's gone all the way down now to 39/40, a 22 point decline on the margin in just four weeks time.

Foley has built a dominant lead with independent voters at 58-33, even as they simultaneously split almost even with their Senate votes. A lot of indys in Connecticut are clearly planning to vote a Blumenthal/Foley ticket. Foley's also seen a large increase in his crossover support, now taking 20% of Democrats compared to only 12% a month ago.

The race is still certainly close enough to go either way but we've been talking a lot recently about the formula for a Republican to win in a deep blue state: take independents by an overwhelming margin and get 20% of the Democratic vote. Foley's doing those two things and this is going to be a close one.

One thing that has to help Foley's prospects is that the state already has a Republican Governor it really likes. Jodi Rell's approval rating as she leaves office is a 55/31 spread, making her one of the most popular Governors in the country. Democratic leaning Connecticut voters know that they can be pretty content with a GOP Governor.

While the Governor's race is now looking pretty interesting, the Senate contest is not. Richard Blumenthal leads by a 54-43 margin. Republicans probably could have been competitive in this race. Blumenthal's net favorability is a +10 at 50/40. Those numbers don't exactly scream invincibility and they represent a 30 point drop on the margin from when his favorability was +40 at the beginning of January. Republicans were not, however, going to be competitive with Linda McMahon as their nominee. 52% of voters view her dimly while only 37% see her in a positive light.

Republicans can win a Senate race in a deep blue state with a strong candidate. They didn't have one in Connecticut. Blumenthal's final margin of victory is going to be smaller than most of his poll leads over the course of the year were but he's going to win just the same.

Full results here

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