On eve of election, poll gives Malloy slight lead

Buoyed by a solidifying Democrat base and divided unaffiliateds, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy opened a three-point lead Monday over Republican Tom Foley in a Quinnipiac University poll that's likely to be the last word on Connecticut's race for governor until the polls close Tuesday night.

The poll released Monday morning had the first-term Democratic incumbent leading 47 percent to 44 percent among likely voters, with seven percent undecided. Eleven percent of voters who expressed a preference said they could change their mind.

It was conducted from Oct. 28 through Sunday, the day that conservative petitioning candidate Joe Visconti quit the race to endorse Foley. But Quinnipiac had been asking voters to also give their preference in a two-way race, which consistently showed Visconti drawing from both major-party candidates.

In a three-way race, Malloy led Foley, 43 percent to 42 percent, with Visconti at eight percent. Visconti's name will remain on the ballot.

“Contrary to conventional wisdom, independent candidate Joe Visconti’s last minute exit from the governor’s race doesn’t look like it will help Republican Tom Foley,” said Douglas Schwartz, the poll's director.

Malloy now is supported by 86 percent of Democrats, a number that has climbed steadily in four Quinnipiac polls since Sept. 10, when it was 77 percent. Foley is backed by 89 percent of Republicans, who are outnumbered by Democrats in Connecticut nearly 2-1.

Unaffiliated voters, the biggest bloc of the electorate, are nearly evenly split, 44 percent for Malloy and 45 percent for Foley. The governor has a 15-point lead among women, while Foley has a 10-point lead among men.

Neither major-party candidate is beloved. Only 43 percent of voters say they have a favorable opinion of Malloy, compared to 42 percent for Foley. Forty-nine percent have an unfavorable opinion of Malloy, compared to 44 percent for Foley.

The poll was the last of three released in recent days, all favorable for Malloy, an incumbent who has not reached a 50-percent job approval rating since taking office.

But Foley says his internal polling showed him with a 3½-point lead Thursday, and he's been telling his supporters he expects to win by four of five points on election night.

The Quinnipiac poll was based on a telephone survey of 982 likely voters. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

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