FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy of Stamford and Republican challenger Tom Foley of Greenwich are in a tie in the race for governor of Connecticut, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Friday.
Foley, a businessman and former ambassador to Ireland, has a big lead in the Republican field, the poll said.
Malloy's handling of the state budget and taxes, including his failed promise to offer $55 tax refunds, are big hurdles in his re-election campaign, the poll said.
His job approval stands at 48 percent vs. 46 percent, with voters saying by a slight 48 percent to 44 percent margin that he does not deserve to be re-elected, the poll said.
Malloy and Foley remain deadlocked at 43 percent to 43 percent.
Among other possible Republican challengers, Malloy edges State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney of Fairfield, 44 percent to 40 percent, and tops Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton 44 percent to 39 percent. He leads other challengers by margins of 8 percent to 10 percentage points.
A week before the Connecticut Republican Convention, Foley leads the GOP pack with 39 percent, followed by Boughton with 9 percent and McKinney with 8 percent. No other Republican tops 5 percent, and 28 percent are undecided.
"It's deja-vu all over again as Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy and 2010 Republican standard-bearer Tom Foley remain locked in a dead heat," said Douglas Schwartz, PhD, director of the Quinnipiac University poll.
"One week before the Republican Convention, Foley is still the clear frontrunner. Mayor Mark Boughton, State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney and the rest of the pack are running way behind. Those trying to catch Foley are still struggling to gain name recognition."
The Republican challengers are closing in on Malloy, he said.
"The good news for Gov. Malloy is that the negative headlines about his cancellation of the $55 per person tax refund does not seem to affect his overall approval rating or his standing in the governor's race. The bad news is that almost all the Republicans are within single digits of Malloy, with Foley tied and Boughton and McKinney on his heels," Dr. Schwartz added.
Malloy's planned tax refund was a "campaign gimmick" that never should have been offered, Connecticut voters say 60 percent to 29 percent.
In an open-ended question, allowing for any answer, 18 percent of those who disapprove of the job Malloy is doing cite taxes as the main reason, while another 18 percent list the state budget or finances as 13 percent cite the economy or jobs.
Among those who approve of the job Malloy is doing, 13 percent cite his good job as governor and 9 percent list the state budget or finances.
Only 21 percent of voters say they are personally better off than they were four years ago, while 30 percent say they are worse off and 48 percent say they are about the same. The $1.5 billion tax hike Malloy signed three years ago to close the budget deficit hurt the state economy 32 percent of voters say, while 21 percent say it helped and 39 percent say it made no difference.
"Economic issues are dragging Gov. Malloy down," Schwartz said. "A bright spot for Malloy is that voters think he has strong leadership qualities and is honest and trustworthy."
From May 1 to 6, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,668 registered voters. The margin of error is 2.4 percentage points.