A new public opinion survey, conducted by Public Policy Polling, a survey research firm from North Carolina, reported today that their recent survey of Connecticut voters revealed that “Dan Malloy continues to be one of the most unpopular Governors in the country in our polling. Only 33% of voters approve of him to 51% who disapprove…” For the details of the survey see: http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2012/08/connecticut-miscellany.html
The survey found that “Malloy only barely gets over 50% approval even with Democrats, at 52/33. Independents disapprove of him by a more than 2:1 margin, 25/53, and with Republicans he’s at 15/73.”
The survey report concludes that “Malloy would trail a hypothetical GOP opponent for reelection right now by a 46/39 margin.”
But as the press release recognizes, by political standards, there is still “plenty of time” for Malloy to rebuild his support.
That said, the results clearly indicate that his policies and approach to governing have not only alienated the vast majority of Republicans and Unaffiliated voters, but his level of support among Democrats remains at record lows.
As far as the total electorate is concerned, the weak economy, Malloy’s 2011 record tax increase, the state’s on-going budget deficits and the sense that he spends an inordinate amount of time cutting ribbons, attending ground breaking ceremonies and generally acting more like a candidate than a governor are probably some of the biggest factors reducing his level of voter support.
In addition, many voters probably question his frequent out of state trips and non-essential expenditure of state funds. An ironic example was that the headline beside the news about today’s poll read “Malloy To China: ‘To Put Connecticut On The Map’”.
While people who monitor and run political campaigns would suggest that the overall numbers are very troubling, the real news is Malloy’s the lack of support among Democrats and women.
In a state like Connecticut, where unaffiliated voters make up an increasingly larger proportion of voters, a Democratic candidate must start with the vast majority of Democratic voters and a significant majority of women voters, and then a sufficient number of unaffiliated voters to win.
By comparison, this latest public opinion survey reports that only 52% of Democrats approve of the Governor’s job performance and only 34% of women voters approve of Malloy’s performance.
Unfortunately, the poll does not provide enough information to identify why Malloy’s job performance rating is so low.
However, having studied Connecticut voting patterns over the past four decades, the most likely reason is that Governor Dannel Malloy’s policies and priorities have proven to be very different then the policies and priorities that he had promised when he was candidate Dan Malloy.
The Governor’s systematic attack to undermine and vilify Connecticut’s state employees and teachers are just two examples of where Malloy said one thing during the campaign and then did something completely different when he became governor.
For example, during the campaign Malloy often spoke about the importance of public employees but then last year, he spent much of his time decrying excessive state salaries, pensions and the “work ethic” of state employees. During the 2011 Legislative Session, Malloy would regularly claim that many state employees received pensions of over $100,000, when the fact, the average state employee pension is less than a third of that amount.
Then this year, Malloy shifted his assault to one that repeatedly attacked Connecticut’s public school teachers. At one point Malloy claimed that all school teachers had to do was show up at school for 4 years and they’d get tenure, when, teachers and parents know that most teachers work extremely hard, earning every dollar of their salary.
Later during the “education reform” debate, Malloy said that he didn’t mind if Connecticut’s education system focused on “teaching to the test,” as long as the standardized test scores went up. It was a position that teachers and parents found extremely ignorant and insulting.
Beyond the damage this type of rhetoric has had on his support from state employees, teachers and their families, is the reality that most Democrats believe in the role of public servants and the need for a more active, effective government.
Finally, in addition, Malloy’s decision to oppose any tax increase on those making over $1 million dollars while proposing major tax increases on middle income working families, has left many Democrats disillusioned.
Despite all of the above, it is important to reiterate that considering the next gubernatorial election is more than two years away, the Governor and his team still have time to repair some of their relationships with key Democratic voting segments.
Background Note: For those who regularly monitor political polling, it is important to recognize that Public Policy Polling uses a somewhat controversial automated telephone interview process. Voters are called and asked to complete an automated survey. For example, the recording will read a question and then ask, if you agree with that statement push 1, if you disagree with that statement push 2. Over the years that have been widespread concern that automated calling is not as accurate as surveys conducted by actually phone operators. That said, the accuracy of this type of polling has been fairly accurate and many campaigns, organizations and media outlets use an automated polling process on a regular basis.