The Democrats’ Conundrum for 2014

Governor Malloy’s tax and spending policies, Malloy’s unrelenting support for corporate education reform, Malloy and Attorney General George Jepsen’s decision to undermine the historic education funding lawsuit and Malloy’s ongoing corporate welfare schemes that are giving successful private companies hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds has created a scenario in which a significant number of Democrats and unaffiliated voters give Malloy failing grades.

Now add the potential Republican candidates for Governor in 2014, and the political dynamics become increasingly complex.

According to a public opinion poll released yesterday by former Republican gubernatorial candidate, Tom Foley, “Incumbent Democratic Governor Dan Malloy is very vulnerable to a credible challenge in the 2014 election for Governor. Forty-seven percent (47%) of Connecticut voters indicate they believe it is time for a new person, and only thirty-seven percent (37%) believe that Malloy has done a good enough job to deserve re-election. “

The chairperson of Connecticut’s Democratic Party, Nancy DiNardo, responded by telling the Hartford Courant, “It appears that Tom Foley can find the time to further his political ambitions through shoddy polling, but not the time to say whether or not he would have supported the historic gun violence prevention bill the Governor signed into law last week.”

Polls released by politicians are always suspect and Foley’s position on gun control will certainly be a relevant issue in the 2014 gubernatorial campaign, but DiNardo is overlooking a far more serious problem facing Connecticut Democrats.

A recent Quinnipiac Public opinion survey discovered that only 48 percent of Connecticut voters had a favorable opinion of the job that Governor Malloy is doing.  Of even greater concern, only 72 percent of Democrats gave Malloy a favorable job rating and only 41 percent of unaffiliated voters rated the governor’s job performance favorably.

While much can change over the course of 18 months, if these numbers don’t improve substantially, and they have remained relatively steady since the day he was sworn into office, it would be very difficult for Malloy to win re-election.

Having closely monitored Connecticut voting patterns over the past four decades, it is safe to say that a statewide Democratic candidate CANNOT win when nearly 30 percent of registered Democrats don’t approve of the job they are doing.

In fact, to win, a statewide race, a Democratic candidate must have virtually universal support from Democrats and substantial support form unaffiliated voters.

While Governor Malloy’s job performance rating among Democrats is a paltry 72 percent, President Obama’s rating in Connecticut is just shy of 90 percent. Malloy has a major problem with his Democratic base.

A quick review of the other incumbent Democratic governors, around the country that will be up for re-election in 2014 provides humbling news for the Malloy camp.

Compare Malloy’s 48 percent job approval rating in Connecticut, to Governor Dayton’s 53 percent in Minnesota; Governor Cuomo’s 55 percent in New York; Governor Brown’s 57 percent in California; and Governor Hickenlooper’s 60 percent in Colorado just to name a few.

Even more telling, while only 72 percent of Democrats give Malloy a favorable rating, in a state like Minnesota, Governor Dayton’s positive rating among Democrats is 86 percent.

Even more troubling for Connecticut Democrats is that rather than building bridges, the Malloy administration seems to be doing almost everything it can to further alienate some of the most important constituencies that make up the base of the Democratic Party.

Malloy’s budget proposals, including deep cuts to essential services and doing away with the Public Payment in Lieu of Taxes grant is strengthening opposition to Malloy among many Democrats.

As the Governor who has made the deepest cuts in state history to Connecticut’s public colleges and universities, as well as the state’s student financial aid programs, he has sent a powerful message to Connecticut’s college students and their parents that his priorities are not in line with theirs.

And we know that Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, and his corporate education reform colleagues, such as Paul Vallas and Steven Adamowski, are doing absolutely everything they can to further alienate vast numbers of public school parents, as well as, Connecticut’s teachers, retired teachers and those who support universal access to public education.

Add in Malloy’s multiple attacks on Connecticut’s public employees and retirees and you have a situation in which an extraordinarily large number of Democrats say that they don’t support the job the Governor is doing. Many of the Democrats who do not approve of Malloy’s job performance are the individuals who are heavily relied upon to volunteer and contribute to Democratic campaigns.

It is certainly unclear what will develop, but this situation leaves dedicated Democrats wondering.

One possibility is that a candidate will come forward to challenge Malloy for the Democratic nomination.  Such an option is unlikely, especially since the power associated with incumbency would make it an extreme long shot, but Connecticut’s campaign finance law would make the race potentially competitive.

Alternatively, Democrats who are committed to the core values of the Democratic Party, and oppose Malloy’s policies, could seek to run a Democrat on an independent line as a way to give voters a new choice and lay the foundation for more significant changes to the party down the road.

The notion of re-capturing the principles of the Democratic Party by creating a new entity is not unique.  In Minnesota, for example, a new entity, the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL) was created in 1944 and it soon eclipsed the older parties to become the state’s dominate governing political party.  That effort was led, in part, by Hubert Humphrey who chaired the “Fusion Committee” that created the new party apparatus.

Since Connecticut voters are extremely comfortable with splitting their tickets and have even elected an independent governor and U.S. Senator in the recent past, the possibility of a new, more independent Democratic Party would have some key advantages for those who oppose Malloy’s policies.

Of course, the most obvious benefit is that by providing Democrats with a true democratic alternative, it could easily leave Malloy in third place should he chose to run for re-election.

Another great lesson about the art and science of interpreting public opinion surveys

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;

Vote Party
Republican Democrat Other
Malloy 15% 74% 25%
Republican 73% 11% 44%
Don’t know 11% 14% 31%

 

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
Republican Democrat Other
Strongly Approve 16% 34% 15%
Somewhat Approve 16% 43% 30%
Somewhat Disapprove 17% 13% 24%
Strongly Disapprove 48% 9% 31%
Don’t know 3% 2% 1%

 

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.

When you want the right answer, ask the right question… Take the Survey

Yesterday, ConnCAN, the charter school advocacy group released the results of a “public opinion survey” that determined that Connecticut voters overwhelming support Governor Malloy’s “education reform” proposals.

The poll was done by Global Strategies Group, the company that Roy Occhiogrosso, the Governor’s former chief advisor returned to last month. According to a memo released by the Global Strategies Group, “There is broad support for continuing education reforms. Connecticut voters are overwhelmingly in favor of continuing the education reforms passed last year (73% support). Support for reform crosses party lines (79% Democrat/64% Republican) and demographic groups. Men and women (69% men/77% women), parents and non-parents (73% parents/74% non-parents), younger and older voters (75% under 55/71% 55+), and white and non-white voters (72% white/84% non-white) all support continuing reforms.”

Christine Stuart, of the CTNewsjunkie, was finally able to get a hold of the actual question Global Strategies used in the ConnCAN survey.  You can read the story here:  Advocates Say Survey Shows Support For Education Reforms

It turns out that the ConnCAN/Global Strategies question read:

“The education reform bill passed last year by the State Legislature and signed by the Governor takes essential steps to close Connecticut’s worst-in-the-nation achievement gap, raise standards for educators, allows immediate action to improve failing schools, increases access to high-quality public school choices, and improves how education dollars are spent. Having heard this information, do you support or oppose continuing these reforms?”

After reading the question, one wonders about the fact that only 73% of the Connecticut voters polled said they support the legislation.

Imagine, the question informs voters that the Governor’s legislation “takes essential steps to close Connecticut’s worst-in-the-nation achievement gap, raise standards for educators, allows immediate action to improve failing schools, increases access to high-quality public school choices, and improves how education dollars are spent.”

Are you telling me almost 1 in 3 voters said they support the worst-in-the-nation achievement gap, that they want to lower standards for educators, that they refuse to support actions to improve failing schools and they want to reduce access to high-quality public school choices…not to mention that they oppose improving how education dollars are spent?

Having spent a year fighting the destructive, discriminatory, corporate education reform proposals that Malloy has been pushing, I’d even be hesitant to say I “oppose” the wonderful things that this question tells us that Malloy’s bill purportedly does.

True the bill did none of the things stated, but damn they sound good!

In the end, it is a great lesson on how pollsters can use the wording of questions to “push” a particular response.  Here let’s practice by coming up with another example.

Question on the 2014 gubernatorial election;

Dan Malloy ran for Governor on a platform of transparency and honesty.  He said he’d only support balanced budgets, put an end to the state’s wasteful and economically destructive use of borrowing, move the state to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and that while he opposed increasing taxes, if taxes were needed, he’d ensure that everyone paid their fair share.

Once elected, Governor Malloy proposed a $1.5 billion tax increase that placed the heaviest burden on middle-income families and completely protected those making more than a million dollars a year from having to face any increase in their income tax rate.  Even with this record-breaking tax increase, Governor Malloy ran major deficits in his first two years and left the state facing a $1.2 billion projected budget deficit in his third year in office.  Meanwhile, instead of moving the state to GAAP accounting, Malloy proposed a 12 year phase in of GAAP and then skipped the payments that he had promised to make for the first two years of that program.  Finally, Malloy proposed borrowing over $2 billion in the last two years and this year he actually proposed postponing paying off some of the state’s debts to make next year’s budget appear balanced.

Knowing these facts, do you think the state should re-elect the governor next year or is it time for someone new to lead that state?

Survey answers choices:

  • Re-elect the Governor
  • Time for someone new to run the state
  • Don’t know/Undecided

Now would you like to take this survey – if so, then click here:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/DGQRW7L

 

 

Incredible stupidity, stunning arrogance or both…

Earlier today, the Global Strategy Group, a political consulting and public relations company released a memo about a public opinion survey that it had conducted for the “education reform” advocacy group, ConnCAN, the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, Inc.

According to a Global Strategy Group memo, the poll found that, “Voters see the Governor [Malloy] as a strong advocate for education reform.  Voters give the Governor favorable ratings (54% favorable/36% unfavorable) and believe he is doing a good job when it comes to education.  A majority of voters (54%) approve of the job he is doing when it comes to Connecticut’s public schools.  Parents are especially supportive of the Governor’s efforts and rate his performance on schools favorably by a margin of nearly 2 to 1 (60% approve/31% disapprove).

The Global Strategy Group is where Roy Occhiogrosso landed after leaving the Governor’s Office six weeks ago.  After serving for two years as Governor Malloy’s chief advisor and spokesman, Roy Occhiogrosso recently returned to Global Strategies Group to serve as its Managing Director. 

Occhiogrosso had previously served as a partner at Global Strategies from 2003 to 2010.  During the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, Dan Malloy’s gubernatorial campaign, much of it funded through the State’s publicly funded campaign finance system, paid Occhiogrosso and Global Strategies a total of $669,105.87.

According to the memo, the ConnCAN opinion survey was conducted between January 23 and January 27, 2013, just a couple of weeks after Occhiogrosso rejoined Global Strategies. 

Although neither ConnCAN nor Global Strategies released the questionnaire that served as the survey instrument, it is clear from today’s memo that the poll was designed to collect valuable political information, as well as perspectives on policy issues.

When an organization conducts a survey with a larger sample size, only interviews voters and includes questions to determine the respondents’ party affiliation, their goal is generally to collect information about how key political sub-constituencies respond to potential voting issues.

It is particularly suspicious that ConnCAN and Global Strategies decided to conduct the survey at the end of January, prior to the Governor’s Budget speech, but held the results until after the speech was completed. A poll of this nature would be of tremendous political value to the Malloy Administration if they had access to the data prior to putting together his budget speech.

ConnCAN’s political support for Governor Malloy is well known.  Last Spring, within 24 hours of Malloy’s “education reform” bill becoming a Public Act, one of ConnCAN’s founders held an extremely lucrative fundraiser for a political action committee called Prosperity for Connecticut.  The PAC appears to be affiliated with Governor Malloy and the Governor has attended all, or most, of the PAC’s fundraising events, including a series of fundraising parties in Washington D.C. and New York City. 

Jonathan Sackler, who hosted the event for education reform supporters, is not only one of the original founders of ConnCAN, but he also formed ConnAD, the organization that spent record amounts lobbying for Malloy’s “education reform bill.  Furthermore, he is also the founder of 50-CAN, a national education reform advocacy group.  National officials from Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst, Teach for America and other national education reform groups donated to the Sackler fundraiser.

The May 30, 2012 fundraiser at Sackler’s $8.5 million home raised over $41,000 for the Prosperity for Connecticut PAC, making it the most successful of the 15 fundraisers the PAC has had since being formed two years ago. 

At the Sackler event, significantly more than half of the money raised came directly from members of ConnCAN’s Board of Directors, ConnCAN’s Advisory Board or family members of the individuals who serve on the two boards.

The decision to conduct this poll raises numerous serious issues. 

Did Occhiogrosso know about the poll before he left state service and did he spend any state time or resources communicating with ConnCAN or Global Strategies about the poll? 

Were any other members of Malloy’s Administration, such as OPM Secretary Barnes, Education Commissioner Pryor or Chief of Staff Ojakian aware of the poll?  Did any of these public officials offer information that impacted the questions being asked?

Equally important is whether the Malloy Administration received any information about the survey’s finding prior to the poll’s public release and most importantly, prior to the Governor’s budget speech.

Depending on what information was provided and who did the communicating, there are potential violations of Connecticut’s ethics laws, let alone the possibility that public employees used state resources to further their political agenda.

The issue is particularly relevant because leading up to the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, I filed a complaint against Governor Rell, her chief of staff and key members of her administration for using state resources to support public opinion polling that was designed to have political benefits for Rell.  The complaint eventually led to major fines for some of the individuals involved in the effort.

While in this case the poll was conducted by a private entity, was not done at state expense and Malloy has yet to form a campaign committee, ConnCAN is a registered lobbyist and that brings a whole series of ethics issues into play.  In addition, it is conceivable that if state employees were involved in the development of the survey, other laws may have been violated.

Anyone aware of Connecticut’s ethics laws and the laws prohibiting the use of state resources for political purposes would instantly recognize that a poll of this nature, especially conducted at this time, would raise a wide variety of questions.

It is for that reason that this post is entitled, “Incredible stupidity, stunning arrogance or both…”

Rest assured that this is not the last time we will hear about this incredible and stunningly stupid move by ConnCAN and Global Strategies.

News coverage of this event has been extremely limited to date.  Here is the first article on the poll.  Advocates Say Survey Shows Support For Education Reforms.

Coincidentally – here is a Wait, What? post from earlier today entitled; Malloy says: I know, let’s finish off the effectiveness of the government watchdog agencies…

Governor Malloy: Dedicated to alienating the Democratic base?

Watching the Malloy administration at work, it almost seems that the Governor and his senior appointees are constantly working to alienate the base of the Democratic Party.

As a Democrat, it is not only disturbing to watch but their actions hurt the Democratic Party and further jeopardize the Governor’s re-election chances.  An elected official has an obligation to represent everyone, but America’s democratic political system is built around a nominating and election process that requires a committed base of supporters who will work hard on behalf of their candidate.

The transformation from Dan Malloy, the candidate, to Dannel Malloy the Governor is a case study in how to leave your base behind.  In his first year the target was state employees.  In his second year it was teachers.  Both years, those who believe in the right to collectively bargain rightfully felt under assault.

The latest example arose last night in the Town of Windham, Connecticut, when Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor’s new PowerPoint on his Commissioner’s Network was handed out.

The presentation includes a particularly insulting approach to the “Election-to-Work” process that is included in Governor Malloy’s education reform bill.

Election-to-Work and Right-to-Work are two very different concepts on the collective bargaining continuum.

Right-to-Work provisions prohibit, as a matter of law, collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join unions, pay union dues or fees or participate in union activities in any way. Right-to-Work laws exist in 24 states and are seen as one of the most serious attacks that anti-union forces are mustering in their anti-collective bargaining efforts.

Election-to-Work is a very different concept.  Election-to-Work agreements provide a mechanism for a group of employees to work under a different or special set of rules from those provided for in the basic collective bargaining agreement.

Election-to-Work agreements have been used in a variety of school districts around the nation, including in New Haven, to promote pilot projects that lengthen the school day or year or outline duties and obligations that administrators and teachers have beyond those in the standard contract.

Election-to-Work agreements are a product of the school district and the teacher unions coming together to develop and agree upon the key elements that will be implemented in an effort to introduce new strategies and techniques in some schools and districts.  It is the way to include, not exclude teachers and their unions from the process.

One of the things that made Governor Malloy’s education reform bill the most anti-teacher, anti-union initiatives of any Democratic governor in the nation was his proposal that collective bargaining be completely prohibited in schools that became part of the Commissioner’s Network (also called turnaround schools).

Instead of sticking with that concept, Democrats in the legislature removed the anti-collective bargaining language and replaced it with a system that allows schools and unions to develop Election-to-Work agreements.

By the end of the process, the actual new law read;

“Nothing in this section shall alter the collective bargaining agreements applicable to the administrators and teachers employed by the local or regional board of education, subject to the provisions of sections 10-153a to 10-153n, inclusive, of the general statutes, and such collective bargaining agreements shall be considered to be in operation at schools participating in the commissioner’s network of schools, except to the extent the provisions are modified by any memorandum of understanding between the local or regional board of education and the representatives of the exclusive bargaining units for certified employees, chosen pursuant to section 10-153b of the general statutes, or are modified by a turnaround plan, including, but not limited to, any election to work agreement pursuant to such turnaround plan for such schools and negotiated in accordance with the provisions of section 20 of this act.”

While the language is a little verbose, it is actually pretty simple.

If a school becomes part of the Commissioner’s Network, collective bargaining agreements CONTINUE, but a Memorandum of Understanding can be negotiated between the board of education and the union that allows for an Election-to-Work alternative agreement to created.

It was a compromise that recognized the important role teachers and their unions need to play in the development of turnaround plans for schools that become part of the Commissioner’s Network.

So now we turn to the new presentation created by Malloy’s Education Commissioner and presented last night in Windham.

The Presentation includes a page that reads, in part, “Turnaround plans may include proposals for…Hiring and reassigning teachers and administrators, including, but not limited to, approaches such as election to work.”

A footnote note adds, “Modifications to collective bargaining agreements must be negotiated on an expedited basis that concludes, if necessary, in binding arbitration that places the highest priority on the educational interest of the state.  In some instances, only the financial impact of such modifications may be bargained.”

While the Commissioner’s language is not completely wrong, it is misleading and, even more importantly, the concept is presented in a way that undermines the fundamental spirit that legislative Democrats insisted upon — turnaround school plans must be based on communication and cooperation between the state, the local boards of education and the teachers.

The Education Commissioner’s presentation is making the rounds in communities that might become part of the Commissioner’s Network.  Most, if not all of these cities and towns are Democratic communities, with Democratic boards of education and audiences of teachers and citizens who are primarily Democrats.

These communities are also represented by state senators and state representatives who are Democrats and who worked to insert the compromise language that recognized the important role teachers and unions play in the turnaround process.

The compromise language was very clear – Election-to-Work provisions must be negotiated by the board of education AND the unions.

However, the implication of the Education Commissioner’s  phraseology is that any negotiations are almost secondary in nature.

While he admits that modifications must be negotiated, he adds that the process occurs on an expedited basis, that the arbitration process is slanted in the state’s favor and “In some instances, only the financial impact of such modifications may be bargained.”

But that is hardly the case when it comes to the key notion of the previous bullet in his Presentation which is about Election-to-Work provisions.

As a nationally recognized corporate education reformer, Commissioner Pryor’s language is designed to play to his corporate education reform allies, not teachers or those who believe in the important of unions and collective bargaining.

I suppose that it is his right, as Commissioner, to play to whatever audience he deems important, but the cost of that arrogance is that it reiterates the notion that Governor Malloy is failing to take the legislature’s education reform changes seriously and, when given the opportunity, the Malloy administration continues to belittle the role of teachers and unions – EVEN WHEN THE LAW REQUIRES THAT TEACHERS AND UNIONS PLAY A VITAL ROLE IN THE  TURNAROUND PROCESS.

Will the majority of voters notice the nuance of this issue?  NO

Will teachers and union members notice the unnecessary and misleading nature of Pryor’s language?  YES

It is, when all is said and done, yet another example of Governor Malloy’s unwillingness or inability to recognize the importance of the Democratic base to the electoral process.

Note:   Commissioner Pryor’s Powerpoint presentation was handed out in the Windham Board of Education packet last night.  If you’d like to see it, drop me a line.  It is a big file.

Malloy affiliated Political Action Committee cashes in on education reform bill:

In the financial world, I think they call it Return on Investment, or, in the parlance of Wall Street ROI.

On May 29, 2012, Governor Malloy’s education reform bill became Public Act 12-116.

Twenty-four hours later, Malloy was ensconced at the 10,000 square-foot, $8.5 million, Greenwich, Connecticut home of corporate education reform financier Jonathan Sackler for a fundraiser that netted the Malloy affiliated Prosperity for Connecticut Political Action Committee more than $41,000.

Sackler, who helped Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, create Achievement First Inc., the large charter school management company that owns at least 20 schools in Connecticut and New York, also played a pivotal role in forming Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now Inc. (ConnCAN), Connecticut Coalition for Education Advocacy (ConnAD) and 50-CAN, the national organization that has inserted ConnCAN-like organizations into the education reform debate in Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey,  New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.   ConnAD was a primary funder behind the lobbying effort to pass Malloy’s education bill last spring, and more recently, helped fund Mayor Bill Finch’s failed effort to eliminate a democratically elected board of education in Bridgeport and replace it with one appointed by the Mayor.

Malloy’s financial patrons included the chairman and board members of Achievement First, Inc. as well as board members of Achievement First-Bridgeport, Achievement First-Amistad and Achievement First-Elm City, with most donating the maximum $750 per person allowed under Connecticut law.

A total of at least six members of ConnCAN’s small Board of Directors, along with numerous members of ConnCAN’s Advisory Board were also in attendance or provided checks for the event.  At least two senior board officers of Excel Bridgeport and the President and Vice President of the New Beginnings Family Academy, another charter school in Bridgeport also donated.  ConnCAN’s former CEO, Alex Johnston gave, as did the spouse of the Connecticut Director of Teacher For America.

The Vice Chair of Eva Moskowitz’s infamous New York City based Success Academy Charter Schools dropped $1,500 on the event, thanks to donations from board members and his wife, while another donation came from a board member of the Newark, New Jersey, Team Charter School chain, which is owned by KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program, a “national network” of 125 charter schools around the Country.

The event, a veritable who’s who of corporate education reformers, included the Chief Operating Officer of Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst, a couple of national board members of Teach For America, members of KIPP’s national board of directors, a board member of New Leaders Inc. (a program to “train” school administrators in the ways of education reformers) and one of the founders of the national group, Democrats for Education Reform.

Donations for the event came from as far away as Miami Beach, West Palm Beach, Vero Beach, Pacific Palisades, Teton Village, Wyoming, McLean, Virginia, Los Angeles, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, along with multiple checks from education reform/hedge fund managers from New York City.

Connecticut billionaire Steven Mandel kicked in $750, along with his associate, Meghan Lowney, who spent so much time and effort pushing the Malloy Administration’s illegal, and eventually failed, attempt to take-over the Bridgeport School System in 2010.

When not funding Governor Malloy’s political action committee or various Connecticut and national education reform organizations, the attendees and donors to the Sackler fundraiser are busy running hedge funds and investment companies.  The donor list included CEOs, Presidents and Directors of Alternative Investment Group, Belenos Capital, Brookside International, Carl Marks & Co., Carter Morse & Mathias, Conatus Capital, Dawson Capital Management, Five Mile Capital Partners, Greenwich Capital Markets,  Gotham Capital and Gotham Asset Management, Jaws Estates Capital, Lone Pine Capital, North Bay Associates, Salmon River Capital,  Sessa Capital, Shumway Capital, Structured Portfolio Management (SPM) , Tilson Mutual Funds and Viking Global Investors, just to name a few.

According to information first reported by the Hartford Courant’s investigative reporter, Jon Lender, Sackler’s May 30, 2012 fundraiser was one of at least fourteen fundraisers the political action committee, Prosperity for Connecticut, held between October 2011 and October 2012.  As of its last State Elections Enforcement Report (October 28, 2012), the PAC reported that it has raised a total of just over $205,000.

With donations related to the May 30, 2012 party totally over $41,000, it appears that Sackler’s education reform house party may be the single most profitable event the PAC has held.

For Lender’s story see: http://articles.courant.com/2012-12-08/news/hc-lender-column-pac-contributions-1209-20121208_1_dannel-p-malloy-ferry-business-bridgeport-ferry

A minor side-note:  With no expenditure listed for food and beverages for the May 30, 2012 event and no “in-kind contribution” of food and beverages listed from the event’s host, it would appear that the attendees weren’t provided any food or beverage for their efforts.  Alternatively, of course, the PAC violated state law by failing to properly report its official expenditures or in-kind contributions, in which case a fine should be forthcoming should the State Election Enforcement Commission take notice of the PAC’s election law violation.

15+ family members and employees of a New York tug boat towing and ferry boat company give to Malloy PAC

At least 15 family members and employees of a company that financially benefits from Connecticut public policy is one of the biggest donors to Malloy’s Political Action Committee, according to an article written by investigative reporter Jon Lender in today’s Hartford Courant.

Wait, What? readers are already familiar with Prosperity for Connecticut, a political action committee tied to Governor Malloy.

As a result of more than 14 fundraising events over the past year, the PAC has raised over $200,000.

Now, according to Jon Lender, “State campaign finance records show that at least 15 contributions — mostly at the maximum annual amount for an individual, $750 — were made in May and September to the Prosperity for Connecticut PAC by people with ties of employment or kin to Capt. Brian A. McAllister of New York City. He is the head of McAllister Towing and Transportation Co. and the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Co., which operates the ferry between those two ports…he McAllister ferry business has been unsuccessful so far in its effort to expand to a larger boat terminal that would be built on the east side of Bridgeport Harbor, opposite from its current location.

But a new consultant’s study on the future of Connecticut’s deep water ports, commissioned in mid-year by the Democrat-controlled legislature and released in October by Malloy’s office, recommends that the state “protect and enhance private ferry services.” And, in a section relevant to the McAllister business, it says: “the State should support the Phase 1 relocation/expansion of the Bridgeport ferry” to the location sought by the company on the east side.”

The full story can be found here:  http://www.courant.com/news/politics/hc-lender-column-pac-contributions-1209-20121208,0,1249593.column

Issues about the political action committee were highlighted in an article here at Wait, What? in a post entitled, “If money is the “mother’s milk of politics”, Governor Malloy’s cup runneth over” (see http://jonathanpelto.com/2012/12/06/if-money-is-the-mothers-milk-of-politics-governor-malloys-cup-runneth-over/)

The Courant’s Jon Lender then wrote a story for the Hartford Courant.  See http://jonathanpelto.com/2012/12/07/courants-jon-lender-sheds-light-on-malloys-pac/

Lender’s latest story raises extraordinarily serious issues related about the inter-connection between Malloy’s fundraising activities and state policy.

Having now spent a significant amount of time analyzing the PACs fundraising reports, I’m reminded of the interesting fact about icebergs…” approximately 90 percent of an iceberg is found under water.”

I can guarantee this isn’t the last time we’ll be reading about the Prosperity for Connecticut Political Action Committee.

In the “small world department,” Wait, What? readers may also remember that McAllister’s Port Jefferson Steamboat Co., was one of the largest contributors to Mayor Bill Finch’s Bridgeport referendum political committee that was campaigning to do away with a democratically elected board of education and replace it with one appointed by the Mayor.

Moving the Port Jefferson Steamboat terminal in Bridgeport, as was recommended by the Malloy Administration’s study, would require the approval of both the State of Connecticut and the City of Bridgeport.

The Courant’s Rick Green highlights the Malloy administration’s approach to governance

In Monday’s Capitol Watch, the Hartford Courant’s foothold in the political news blogosphere, Courant reporter Rick Green posted a piece that successfully portrayed the most fundamental element of the Malloy administration’s approach to governance – their dedication to political gamesmanship 24/7.

The headline read, “Roy v. Rob: Twitter Trash Talk Over Budget Deficit,” and included the text, “Who won this Twitter scrap between state Sen. Rob Kane and Malloy advisor Roy Occhiogrosso?  You decide, but I’d call it a draw. Read from the top down.”

Green was recounting a twitter squabble that took place over a three-hour period on Monday between Republican State Senator Rob Kane and Malloy’s top advisor, Roy Occhiogrosso.

In response to a “tweet” from the Republican State Senator about State Comptroller Kevin Lembo’s announcement that this year’s projected budget deficit had skyrocketed to $415 million and counting, Malloy’s $160,000 chief advisor (he makes more than the Governor), took the time out of his busy schedule to turn to twitter to trash the Republican State Senator.

At 10:33 am, the famously thuggish and bullying Occhiogrosso tweeted, “@SenatorKane32 yep still saying steady, strong, leadership beats running around w/ your hair on fire. You hiding in a bunker somewhere??”

At 11:00 am, Occhiogrosso added, “@SenatorKane32 we don’t take anything lightly but also don’t get hysterical. Rs tried this rap w/ voters last month – how’d that work out?”

And five minutes later, at 11:35 am, Occhiogrosso yelped, “@SenatorKane32 you tried pinning the state’s problems on him and voters rejected that argument. Thankfully they’re smarter than you think.”

Another two minutes and Occhiogrosso tweeted, “@SenatorKane32 Deficit is 1/10 what it was, unemployment is down, govt is smaller. You’re entitled to your own hysteria, not your own facts.”

Starting back up at 1:34 pm Occhiogrosso sent out a tweet saying, “@SenatorKane32 http://www1.ctdol.state.ct.us/lmi/ctnonfarmemployment.asp …

And then again at 1:39 pm added “@SenatorKane32 @ComptroLLembo nope, just you. Just like you were here: http://www.ctmirror.org/story/17858/mcmahon-christie …, and here: http://www.ctmirror.org/story/17673/roraback-esty-race-study-different-strategies …

Of course, right off the bat, two issues become apparent.

First, as an aside, this year’s $415 million dollar deficit and next year’s 1.1 billion shortfall IS NOT “1/10th what it was,” when Malloy took office.  (Occhiogrosso’s tweeter feed reveals that he made similar claims when he attacked CT Mirror reporter Keith Phaneuf for writing a piece, a couple of weeks ago, about the growing budget deficit).

But more to the point, Occhiogrosso’s tirade is more than a commentary on the Malloy Administration’s sense of propriety and priorities.  Engaging in political activities, while on state time, is rather frowned upon under Connecticut state law.  In fact, it is illegal and people have been fired for the offense.

And as if the exchange with State Senator Kane wasn’t a strong enough indication that Occhiogrosso uses his twitter account is engage in political activities during work hours, his twitter record is ripe with other examples.

A few days earlier, upon news that Tom Foley was considering running for Governor again, Occhiogrosso again took time out from his state job to send out a flurry of tweets including one that read “…”Tom Foley=Mitt Romney http://www.ctmirror.org/story/6930/fedele-hits-foley-hard-new-ad-over-business-failure …” and another in which Occhiogrosso tweeted a picture of Foley and Romney writing, “a match made in heaven: pic.twitter.com/3EEkdbEd

In fact, Occhiogrosso’s tweeter feed tells a lengthy story of political positioning and dialogue while he is supposed to be doing the people’s business.

Two days after the election, for example, Malloy’s top advisor engaged in more than a dozen exchanges with a Republican political operative while he was supposed to be working.  In one he tweeted, “ just admit your strategy was wrong, and that you got waxed. Rs facebook status: back @ the drawing board.”

While these violations of law are relatively minor, they speak volumes about how important political positioning is to this administration.

Occhiogrosso’s actions are quite a commentary about how the Governor and the Governor’s Chief of Staff are either unwilling or unable to keep the office staff focused on the role of governing, letting them instead waste time and taxpayer funds engaged in arrogant and mean-spirited efforts to attack anyone and everyone who criticizes this administration.

A 2nd look at the polling numbers: Are Malloy’s re-election chances really in doubt? Yes, yes they are…

Last week, Republican Tom Foley told CT Newsjunkie Christine Stuart, “I’m planning to run for governor because I’m concerned about our state.”  Apparently Foley has been meeting with various newspaper editorial boards to talk about his plans.

Two years ago, Candidate Dan Malloy became Governor Dannel Malloy after getting 49.5 percent of the vote to Foley’s 48.9 percent.

According to the CTNewsjunkie article, it would appear the battle line will be between Malloy, whose stance is,” I enjoy this job a whole lot. I enjoy the challenge of the hard work and I’m pretty proud of what we’ve accomplished,” against Foley whose argument will be, “I told you so.”

In reality, the discussion about the 2014 gubernatorial race started heating up on election night 2012.

Even before the concession speeches had been given, the Chair of the Connecticut Democratic Party issued a press release saying, “Now that voters have spoken, here’s what we know — Governor Malloy wins, the Republicans lose, and the people of Connecticut win,”

Malloy himself told reporters that he felt vindicated by the election results.

Those events prompted a Wait, What? blog post on November 12, 2012 entitled, “Malloy sees vindication in 2012 election results” – Really?

Using the most recent Quinnipiac Poll (Q-Poll) results, I presented data the indicated why Governor Malloy should be especially concerned about his re-election chances.

In fact, I concluded that he might even face a difficult Democratic primary should a fellow Democratic candidate decide to challenge him for the party’s gubernatorial nomination.

As if by magic, the next day, the Harford Courant’s Rick Green came to the Governor’s defense with his own blog post entitled, “What’s With That Malloy Surge!”

With no mention of my blog or the Quinnipiac Poll, Green found (or was given) a copy of pre-election poll conducted by a company called Public Policy Polling (PPP).

Unlike the Quinnipiac Poll who uses people to make the calls, the PPP poll uses an automated system in which the recipient of the call responds to the questions by touching numbers (i.e. if yes, hit 1).

Nonetheless, both the Quinnipiac Poll and the PPP poll were fairly accurate in their pre-election predictions.

Focused on just one of the questions the PPP poll asked, Rick Green wrote, “Public Policy Polling,  which emerged as one of the most accurate pollsters of the 2012 campaign, now sees Gov. Dannel Malloy as a good bet for re-election. That’s quite a bump for a guy considered one of the more unpopular governors in the country over the last year and a half. In an interesting twist, Malloy can legitimately claim he pushed a reluctant state to accept the sort of increased taxes and cuts in spending that Congress and the president now face.”

“A good bet for re-election” was certainly a very different conclusion than the one I had reached the day before, when I wrote, “The truth is that Malloy and his political operation should be extremely worried about this year’s election results.  When one in five Democratic voters has a negative opinion of Malloy’s job performance, it is definitely time to worry about the level of support among the Democratic base.   This should come as no surprise to Malloy’s people, considering the way he has treated state employees, teachers and other core Democratic constituencies.”

At the time, some readers asked why there was a difference, considering both polls had the same projections for the Obama/Romney election?

I’ve been meaning to provide readers with a response.

Here is a quick summary of the situation;

The Courant’s Rick Green and Malloy’s operatives were relying on a question in the Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey that wasn’t asked on the Q-Poll Survey.  The question read, “Generally speaking, if there was an election for Governor today, would you vote for Democrat Dan Malloy or his Republican opponent?”

[Little did they realize that Dan Malloy and Governor Dannel Malloy are two different people].

The results were 48 percent said they would vote for Dan Malloy, his un-named Republican opponent received 37 percent, and 15 percent saying they weren’t sure who they would vote for.

Those numbers were interpreted as being positive for Malloy.

The truth is that political pollsters approach future elections in a variety of different ways.

When no likely opponent has been identified, some pollsters use the question that Public Policy Polling used.  A question that asks whether a voter will vote for the named incumbent or some unnamed challenger.

An alternative technique, that often gets a different result, is to ask voters whether they will vote for the named incumbent or whether it is time for someone new to be Governor.

A third technique is to recognize that the head to head election is simply too far away to solicit meaningful results and instead those pollsters look at the incumbent’s favorability rating.  If their rating is below fifty percent, most political consultants will say the incumbent is vulnerable and the more the incumbent’s popularity is over 50 percent the “safer” they will be perceived.

What Green and the Malloy people overlooked, although it was especially interesting, is that the Quinnipiac Poll and the Public Policy Polling Survey had very similar results when voters were asked about Malloy’s favorability.

In the Q-poll, Malloy’s job approval was a low 45 percent.

In the PPP poll, Malloy’s job approval was a similarly low 46 percent.

Of even more concern for the Malloy operation is that among Democrats, Malloy only had a 66 percent favorability rating in the Q-poll AND AN EVEN LOWER 62 percent favorability rating among Democrats in the PPP poll.

The Q-poll found that an unprecedented 1 in 5 Democrats disapprove of the job Governor Malloy is doing, while the PPP poll was even worse.  The PPP poll found that a stunning 1 in 4 disapprove of Malloy’s job performance.

Below you’ll find a two part table that outlines the data in more detail.  The first table is Malloy’s job performance rating from the Quinnipiac poll, while the second is Malloy’s job performance rating from the Public Policy Polling poll.While it is not “wrong” to test an incumbent’s rating against an unnamed opponent, the data suggests the results would have been different had the question been whether to re-elect Malloy or was it time for someone new.

Q- POLL
 
Malloy Job Rating October 2012
Total
Rep
Dem
Ind
Men
Women
Approve
45
23
66
39
45
45
Disapprove
41
62
20
49
46
38
DK/NA/
14
15
13
12
9
18
 
Public Policy Polling POLL
 
Malloy Job Rating October 2012
Total
Rep
Dem
Ind
Men
Women
Approve
46
26
62
40
42
49
Disapprove
37
59
26
41
43
33
Don’t Know
17
15
16
19
15
18

 

The results would have been different still had the question been, would you vote for Malloy or Foley?

However, the one thing we know is that both the Q-Poll or the PPP poll reveal that Malloy’s job performance rating is extremely low, and that was before voters had heard about the this year’s deficit and next year’s billion dollar budget shortfall.

In particular, for the general election, the most troubling point of all is the low favorability rating among independent or unaffiliated voters (Only 39 percent on the Q-poll and 40 percent in the PPP poll).

To win a statewide race in Connecticut, the Democratic candidate must carry virtually all the Democrats and a significant number of the unaffiliated voters.  While a candidate doesn’t need to win a majority of the unaffiliated voters, he or she must do better than 40 percent.

President Obama, for example, received over 90 percent of the Democrats and, according to both the Q-Poll and PPP poll, was projected to get at least 45 percent of the unaffiliated.

Finally, as I said more than once, in my original post, there is still time for Governor Malloy to re-build his relationship with the Democrats and win over a larger percentage of the unaffiliated.

That said, there is simply no way to get around the fact that as people look to the 2014 gubernatorial election, Governor Malloy is very vulnerable in the general election and, as already mentioned, could even face a serious challenge if an aggressive Democratic candidate decided to take him on for the Democratic nomination.

The latest CTNewsjunkie article on Foley is here: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/foley_vs._malloy_2014/

Rick Green’s “What’s With That Malloy Surge!” post can be found here: http://courantblogs.com/capitol-watch/ppp-whats-with-that-malloy-surge/

And my previous Wait, What post can be found here:  “Malloy sees vindication in 2012 election results” – Really?

“Malloy sees vindication in 2012 election results” – Really?

The shift to the 2014 gubernatorial campaign kicked into gear even before the 2012 candidates had given their acceptance and concession speeches last week.

As the polls closed this year, Chairwoman of the Connecticut Democratic Party wrote, “Now that voters have spoken, here’s what we know — Governor Malloy wins, the Republicans lose, and the people of Connecticut win,”

Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman introduced Malloy by saying, “The one constant in all the turmoil that all the people of Connecticut has endured is the rock steady command of their governor.”

The CT Mirror, CTNewjunkie and other media outlets ran stories about the Governor and the Republicans trying to out-do each other with arguments about what this year’s election results mean for Governor Malloy’s expected attempt to seek a second term.

And, as is their style, Malloy and his inner circle mocked the Republican legislative leadership.

The CTMirror led the discussion with a story entitled, “Malloy sees vindication in 2012 election results”

The fact is, Governor Malloy’s post-election comments were a reminder that he and his political operatives have never left campaign mode and aren’t about to change that strategy as they focus on the 2014 election cycle.

Speaking to the media last Thursday, Malloy reiterated his vow to, “balance the next budget without new taxes.”  No new taxes, despite the fact that although the Malloy Administration claimed the state deficit was only $60 million in the days before the election, by Friday after the election, they admitted that the actual deficit was closer to $300 million and growing.

So what did the 2012 election really reveal about the 2014 gubernatorial campaign?

Every election signals, to some degree or another, what the electorate is thinking, but to suggest that these results are good news for Governor Malloy or that they vindicate his performance is, as the saying goes, a bit optimistic.

According to all the available polling information around the country, Governor Malloy remains the least popular Democratic governor in the nation.

Here are the facts;

President Obama got about 58% of the vote in Connecticut.

In its last public opinion survey in late October, the Quinnipiac poll had the President beating Romney 55 to 41 percent with 4 percent saying that they didn’t know who they’d be voting for this year.  Extrapolate out the people who said “don’t know” and the Q-Poll hit the mark when compared to the actual results.  It was also very close with the Murphy vs. McMahon race.

So what did it take for Obama to get 58 percent of the vote on Election Day 2012?

The President’s favorable “job performance” rating with Connecticut voters was 56 percent.

Obama’s favorable rating among Democrats was a stunning 92 percent, and he even had a 50 – 48 percent favorable rating with the all-important, Republican leaning, unaffiliated (independent) voters.

However, while Connecticut voters had a very positive opinion of President Obama’s job performance, they only give Governor Malloy an overall positive job performance rating of 45 percent.

More to the point, Malloy’s favorable number among Democrats was only 66 percent, a stunning 26 percentage points below the President’s rating.

And in a state in which a state-wide Democratic candidate cannot win without a good portion of the independent or unaffiliated voters, only 39 percent of unaffiliated voters give Governor Malloy a favorable job performance rating.

It is only November 2012, there is still time, but the last thing the Malloy Administration should want is for the media, or anyone else, to be looking into the 2012 numbers for guidance about 2014.

In fact, the one conclusion the leaps out, is the data reveals that Malloy’s low job rating among Democrats, and especially among women, is so low that it bolsters the notion that if someone chose to challenge Malloy for the Democratic nomination, it most certainly wouldn’t be a cakewalk for the incumbent.

Take for example, the depth of feeling among those who, at least, say they have a favorable opinion of the job Malloy is doing as Governor.

Of the 92 percent of Democrats who approve of the job President Obama is doing, seven in ten (69 percent) of those Democrats say they STRONLGY APPROVE of the job Obama is doing.

Of those same Democrats, less than 4 in 10 (38 percent) say that they STRONGLY APPROVE of the job Governor Malloy is doing.

The polling data reveals that Connecticut’s Democrats do not strongly support the incumbent Democratic Governor.  This situation is reiterated by the news that 1 in 5 Democrats actually disapprove of the Governor’s job performance.

As bad as the news is for a potential Democratic Primary, the news for Malloy is even worse when it comes to a potential General Election match-up.

While a quarter of all unaffiliated voters STRONGLY APPROVE of the job President Obama is doing, a breathtakingly insignificant 8 percent of unaffiliated voters STRONGLY APPROVE of the job Malloy is doing.

Equally troubling is that where 41 percent of all women voters STRONGLY APPROVE of the job the President has been doing, only 16 percent of all women voters STRONGLY APPROVE of the job Malloy is doing.

One thing is clear is that Malloy and the State Republicans were engaged in so much political spin about what the 2012 election meant for the 2014 race last week, that they both lost contact with reality and the truth.

Cut through all the bull, and the truth is that the Malloy and his political operation should be extremely worried about this year’s election results.  When one in five Democratic voters has a negative opinion of Malloy’s job performance, it is definitely time to worry about the level of support among the Democratic base.   This should come as no surprise to Malloy’s people, considering the way he has treated state employees, teachers and other core Democratic constituencies.

However, that said, it is premature to say too much about 2014 considering Governor Malloy still has the 2013 Legislative Session to rebuild his level of support among the Democratic base – or further undermine their level of support – as he moves toward the 2014 election cycle.

For those familiar with polling data, here are the numbers that paint the troubling situation facing Governor Malloy.  For those who haven’t read a lot of polls, just look to the numbers in bold.  No one should underestimate just how serious these numbers are.

Obama Job Rating October 2012

Total

Rep

Dem

Ind

Men

Women

Approve

56

8

92

50

50

61

Disapprove

42

90

6

48

48

37

DK/NA/

2

2

2

2

2

3

Malloy Job Rating October 2012

Total

Rep

Dem

Ind

Men

Women

Approve

45

23

66

39

45

45

Disapprove

41

62

20

49

46

38

DK/NA/

14

15

13

12

9

18

Data by intensity of opinion
Obama Job Rating October 2012

Total

Rep

Dem

Ind

Men

Women

Strongly Approve

37

3

69

26

32

41

Somewhat Approve

19

5

23

24

18

20

Somewhat Disapprove

7

8

1

11

9

5

Strongly Disapprove

35

82

5

38

39

32

DK/NA/

2

2

2

2

2

3

Malloy Job Rating October 2012

Total

Rep

Dem

Ind

Men

Women

Strongly Approve

14

4

28

8

12

16

Somewhat Approve

30

19

38

31

33

28

Somewhat Disapprove

16

19

10

18

19

13

Strongly Disapprove

26

42

10

30

27

25

DK/NA

14

16

14

32

9

18

 

You can find the CTMirror story here: http://www.ctmirror.org/story/18157/malloy-sees-vindication-2012-election-results and the CT Newsjunkie story here: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/malloy_who_me/