Published March 04. 2014 6:00AM Updated March 05. 2014 12:17AM
Hartford — A potential face-off between Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Republican Tom Foley could end up being a repeat of the neck-and-neck race they ran in 2010, according to the results of a Quinnipiac University poll released today that showed each candidate being backed by 42 percent of those surveyed.
Malloy defeated Foley in 2010 by less than half of a percentage point. Among potential Republican candidates, 36 percent said they support Foley, followed by Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton with 11 percent and Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti with 6 percent. Foley is better known than the other Republicans, so it is understandable that he is in the lead, said Douglas Schwartz, director of the poll.
"The poll is good news for Tom Foley," Schwartz said. "He dominates in the Republican primary for governor. He is also the strongest general election candidate against Governor Malloy."
But at the same time, Schwartz said, things could change between now and Election Day, and Malloy wasn't putting much stock in a March poll.
"Polls come and go, numbers go up and down," Malloy's director of communications, Andrew Doba, said in a press release. "The governor always does what he thinks is best for the state and the right thing to do."
Malloy has a job approval rating of 48 percent; Schwartz said an approval rating below 50 percent is a danger sign for an incumbent.
"I would say Malloy gets a lukewarm job approval rating," he said.
Malloy has some structural advantages, such as the fact that Democrats outnumber Republicans in Connecticut and, as an incumbent, he would get more press coverage and be able to raise campaign funds, Schwartz said.
The poll also shows widespread support for increasing the minimum wage as President Obama arrives in the state today to advocate that the federal minimum wage be increased from $7.25 an hour to $10.10.
Seventy-one percent of Connecticut voters surveyed said they are in favor of raising the minimum wage while 25 percent said they are opposed, according to the poll. Of Democrats, 93 percent are in favor while 53 percent of Republicans are against. Forty-seven percent of voters also said they thought increasing the minimum wage would help the economy.
While Republicans are against an increase, Foley said he supports it.
"The minimum wage is a fairness issue, so I support raising the minimum wage nationally to help people who struggle the most to earn a living," he said in a press release. "But Connecticut's problem isn't the minimum wage. Connecticut's problem is that far too many people, particularly young minorities in our cities, have no job at all. The job of a governor is to support policies and create an environment where high value added jobs, not minimum wage jobs, are available for everyone who wants one."
State voters gave Obama the lowest approval rating since he took office. Obama has a 45 percent approval rating compared to a 71 percent approval rating in 2009, according to the poll.
Whether Obama's presence in Connecticut will help Malloy's re-election chances remains to be seen, Schwartz said.
"Gov. Malloy's camp must think that it helps, but we will have to see, we will see in our future polls whether it really helps," Schwartz said.
But politically speaking, Malloy "is on the right side of the minimum wage issue with the overwhelming majority of Connecticut voters in favor of increasing the minimum wage," he said.
In a statement Tuesday, Malloy said increasing the minimum wage is "good for the economy and it's the right thing to do."
"We simply have to do better, and that starts with a fair, living wage for workers across Connecticut and across this country. Together, let's grow the middle class and open the doors of opportunity for millions of Americans," he said.
As for how "things are going in Connecticut," 37 percent said they were somewhat satisfied, 31 percent said they were somewhat dissatisfied and 28 percent said they were very dissatisfied. Only 4 percent said they were very satisfied.
Malloy scored best in personal qualities — 60 percent of voters said he has strong leadership qualities, 59 percent said he is honest and 50 percent said he cares about their needs. But personal qualities don't necessarily translate into job approval ratings, which are impacted by how people feel about the economy, Schwartz said.
The survey included 1,878 registered voters, with a 2.3 percent margin of error.