Connecticut’s gubernatorial race is shaping up to be a shocking upset. Polling in this race had been scarce until October. . Not one poll had shown Republican candidate, Tom Foley, leading the Democrat, Dan Malloy. Over the weekend, however, three polls were released by PPP, Rasmussen and Quinnipiac, all showed Foley with a slight lead.
This comes as a surprise. Connecticut’s governor’s mansion has been in Republican hands since 1995. Given Connecticut’s Democratic-tilt, a change in the party controlling the state’s highest office was expected, even with the strong tailwinds this year favoring the GOP. A GOP surge that puts Foley over the top on election night would be highly unexpected.
Foley’s apparent rise, however, has not influenced projections for the state’s Senate race so far. The three polls that showed the governor’s race tilting toward the Republicans also showed Democratic Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal with comfortable leads over the Republican, Linda McMahon. Blumenthal remains well over the 50 percent mark in all recent polls, and McMahon’s best performance so far has come from a Rasmussen poll that shows her garnering 46 percent of the vote.
Republicans can look forward to several close races with the significant possibility that two seats may flip control. In Connecticut’s 4th District, the most likely to flip parties this cycle, Republican Dan Debicella is ahead of Rep. Jim Himes by two points in a Connecticut Capitol Report poll from last week, suggesting this race is a dead heat. . In Connecticut’s 5th District, Sam Caligiuri leads Rep. Chris Murphy by a single point in a similar poll from last week by Connecticut Capitol Report, also a statistical tie.
Republicans appear to be surging all over the state but in the East, where the electorate appears to be coalescing around the Democratic candidates. The 1st and 2nd districts have been slipping away from Republicans as the Democratic base in Eastern Connecticut began to tune into the election over the course of October. In the 1st district, Rep. John Larson is likely to hold onto his seat against Republican challenger, Ann Brickley. In the 2nd district, Rep. Joe Courtney enjoys a comfortable lead in the polls against his Republican challenger, Janet Peckinpaugh. There both Republican challengers are polling behind their opponents by significant margins.
With Republicans surging all over the state, it is hard to see how this does not affect the Senate race. McMahon has a large margin to overcome and while a slight tightening in other races is registering in at least two pre-election polls, it does not compare to the GOP surge in the governor’s race. The polls in this race may not be reflective of the final outcome which is likely to be tighter than predicted. However, it would still take a significant GOP turnout and a lot of Democrats staying home in order for her to overcome an 8 percentage point deficit.
Noah Rothman is the online editor at C&E. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org