The man who guided Dannel Malloy to victory in the 2010 race for governor says that other than the fact the 2014 race will be a tough one, it’s “ridiculous” to draw any conclusions from the latest Quinnipiac poll. The survey shows Malloy losing a rematch with Republican Tom Foley. The poll comes 17 months before the next election.
Much has been made by potential candidates and political analysts since the poll’s release Wednesday. It showed Foley beating any potential fellow Republicans who may run and beating Malloy by three points (actually it’s a statistical dead heat with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percent). Malloy’s negatives are up while his job approval rating and the number of those polled who think he deserves reelection are down.
The poll seems to have emboldened Foley, the 2010 Republican nominee, who has already said he would seek a rematch. “I’m not surprised, with Connecticut dead last in economic growth and a loss of 30,000 jobs since the governor was elected, Foley said in a recent interview. “His progressive agenda hasn’t worked and people want a new direction.”
Occhiogrosso says all the potential Malloy opponents have their own issues to deal with. Foley indicated he would not have supported the post-Sandy Hook legislation passed by the General Assembly. He also is a campaign self-funder. Occhiogrosso says wealthy people who fund their own bids for office have not fared well in Connecticut. He calls Foley “the state’s Mitt Romney.” He also dismisses state House Minority Leader Larry Cafero out of hand. Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, he says, will have problems with the issue of immigration at a time when the Hispanic population is the fastest-growing voting bloc. Senate Majority Leader John McKinney would be a formidable candidate but suffers from a lack of name recognition, he says.
Occhiogrosso says the poll must be taken in context. “Polls taken 17 months out are rarely predictive of the outcome…this time in the 2010 election cycle, [Malloy] was in third place, down 30 points…You have to remember what’s happened—he had to make some very difficult, unpopular choices including raises taxes in his first budget. He then had to deal with a tough budget this year, some [aspects of which] he didn’t want to do,” he said.
Well-known political prognosticator Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia writes that Malloy is “…the Republicans’ best shot to defeat an incumbent governor.” The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake calls the new poll, “A not-so-great sign for Democrats intent on gaining governor’s seats in 2014.” Occhiogrosso dismisses such talk, pointing to Malloy’s history with Q-polls. “The last poll done [before the 2010 Democratic primary] had him losing by three points. He won by 16.”
“There is no question the next race is going to be tough. But we already knew that,” Occhiogrosso said.