After narrowly prevailing in the face of a national GOP wave in 2010, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy begins his reelection campaign as a slight underdog against the Republican he defeated three years ago, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.
The survey shows the Democratic governor trailing Tom Foley, 43 percent to 40 percent. Foley, a businessman and former U.S. ambassador to Ireland, lost to Malloy by less than one percentage point in 2010.
Foley, who announced in November that he plans to run again in 2014, is the favorite to win the Republican nomination, according to the poll. Matched up against three lesser-known GOP contenders, Foley receives 36 percent support from Republican voters, outpacing state Senate Majority Leader John McKinney, the second-place finisher, by 25 points. Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, Foley’s 2010 running-mate, and state House Minority Leader Larry Cafero both receive under 10 percent in the primary.
While Malloy slightly trails Foley, he leads each of the other three Republicans by 7 percentage points in individual matchups. Asked if the governor deserves to be reelected, 44 percent of registered voters said yes, while 46 percent of Nutmeg State voters said he hasn't earned a second term. Voters are evenly divided, 47 percent to 47 percent, when asked if they approve of Malloy's performance as governor.
Malloy receives the worst grades from voters for his tax policy. In his first year in office, the governor signed a budget that included the largest tax increase in state history. Asked about Malloy’s handling of taxes, 63 percent of voters said they disapprove, while 29 percent said they approve.
Malloy earns positive reviews for his response to last year's Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. Fifty-seven percent of voters said they support the state's "stricter new gun laws," while 37 percent said they oppose the measures. A majority of voters, 57 percent, said the governor possesses strong leadership qualities.
The Quinnipiac survey of 1,154 registered voters has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 2.9 percentage points. The subsample of 283 Republicans carries a margin of error of plus-or-minus 5.8 percentage points. The poll was conducted from June 12 through June 17.