Yesterday, the Hartford Courant’s Rick Green posted an article entitled, “Malloy Approval Ratings Up, Support For Re-Election Still Tepid.” Green wrote, “A new poll by the Yankee Institute finds that Mayor Dannel P. Malloy has his highest approval rating ever among voters…And while it looks like he faces a tough re-election fight, the governor is no longer trailing an un-named Republican opponent.”
The observation is not necessarily wrong, but it hardly provides the whole picture.
The “election question” was, “If Governor Malloy runs for re-election in the year 2014, will you probably vote for Governor Malloy or probably vote for the Republican candidate?”
According to the survey results;42% said they will probably vote for Governor Malloy 39% said they will probably vote for the Republican candidate 19% said they are not sure they will vote for.
First off, the number saying that they will vote for Governor Malloy is only up from 39% (in June 2011). That number is within what is called the statistical margin of error – meaning that it would be factually incorrect to say that he is definitely doing better. The change could simply be the consequence of a different sample.
Of even more concern for Malloy is the probable vote by party;
To be blunt, having spent decades studying Connecticut’s elections results, a statewide Democratic candidate cannot win with 11% (1 in 10 Democrats voting for the Republican) and another 14% unsure if they will support the Democratic candidate
Second, while Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than a 2 to 1 margin, it is simply impossible to win a statewide election with the support of only 25% of unaffiliated voters.
That is not to say that things can’t change – but losing at least 10 percent of Democrats only getting the support of 25% of unaffiliated voters will mean certain defeat for Malloy.
Second, this early in the campaign cycle, many pollsters look to job approval ratings as a better indicator of future electoral outcome than questions about imaginary head to head campaigns.
According to the new Yankee Institute Poll, 54% of Connecticut voters approve of the job Governor Malloy has been doing, 45% disapprove of Malloy’s performance and 2% are unsure.
The key is two-fold. The first is looking at the number of voters who disapprove of an elected official’s performance because that provides the basis for opponents and the second is to particularly watch what is happening with Democrats and unaffiliated voters.
According to surveys produced by the Yankee Institute the percent disapproving of Malloy’s job performance has been as follows:February 2011 46% disapprove June 2011 56% disapprove February 2012 46% disapprove February 2013 45% disapprove
Except for the bounce after the 2011 legislative session, the percent of voters most receptive to anti-Malloy messages has remained virtually unchanged since he took office.
Finally, Malloy’s job performance rating by party provides the most worrisome information at all;
|Malloy Job Performance||Party|
Remembers, to win, a Democratic statewide candidate needs virtually unanimous support from Democrats and needs significant support, although not a majority, from unaffiliated voters.
As the job performance by party reveals, a stunning 22% of Democrats disapprove of Malloy’s performance and 55% of unaffiliated voters disapprove of the Governor’s performance.
The Democrat has consistently sought strategies to alienate important Democratic constituencies and this poll reiterates, again, the impact of that effort. It is fair to say that as long as nearly 1 in 4 Democrats disapprove of Malloy’s job performance, he cannot win.
And strengthening that assessment is the fact that with such weak support among unaffiliated it would be virtually impossible to make up for the lost Democrats by increasing the percentage of support from unaffiliated.
Again, this doesn’t mean the election is “over,” but as we’ve learned, public opinion polling is an art and a science. Three important factors are how the questions are worded, who is interviewed and whether the assessment of the data is put in context.
The results from the Yankee Institute survey are hardly good news for Team Malloy.