Yankee releases new poll

EAST HARTFORD – President Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney, 50-37%, among Connecticut voters, and would defeat Newt Gingrich by an even larger margin, 56-35%, according to a new Yankee Institute poll. Gingrich is weighed down by an unfavorable image. More than twice as many voters think unfavorably of Gingrich (63%) as view him favorably (28%).

In the U.S. Senate race, Democratic Congressman Chris Murphy holds a 49-40% lead over Linda McMahon and a smaller 45-39% advantage over Chris Shays. Susan Bysiewicz edges McMahon, 43-40%, but Shays holds a slight lead over Bysiewicz, 42-41%, should they both become their party’s nominees in the general election.

Governor Malloy’s approval and re-elect numbers have improved somewhat since the end of the last legislative session, though he continues to be the least popular elected Democrat in Connecticut. Governor Malloy’s approval rating is 51 % and his net approval rating is positive by five points (51/46), a net improvement of 19 points compared to June of last year, when it was 42/56 percent. Gov. Malloy’s re-elect number is 47%, up 8 points but still below the 50% mark incumbents like to see. Gov. Malloy’s job approval rating trailed those of other Democrats:

• Senator Richard Blumenthal:       62% approve, 31% disapprove (net +31)
• Senator Joe Lieberman:                 53% approve, 43% disapprove (net +10)
• President Barack Obama:              53% approve, 44% disapprove (net +9)
• Governor Dannel Malloy:              51% approve, 46% disapprove (net +5)

Among candidates, Chris Murphy enjoys the highest net favorable rating (+19), followed by Shays (+7) and Bysiewicz (+1). Romney (-5), McMahon (-9) and Gingrich (-35) had net negative favorability ratings.

Voters were asked about a number of policy issues that may be considered during the coming legislative session, including education reform.

Cut spending, don’t raise taxes: 70% of voters think the state budget deficit should be addressed “all” (40%) or “mostly” (30%) by spending cuts, and not tax increases.

Abolish teacher tenure: 61% of voters would support abolishing tenure for public school teachers, and just 24% want to see tenure kept.

Reform teacher compensation: 53% of voters support reforming teacher compensation to reflect student outcomes and classroom evaluations, while 28% think experience and education credentials should be the main considerations.

Skeptical about teachers unions: 63% of voters think teachers unions care more about protecting members’ jobs than about the quality of education (28%).

OK on Sunday liquor sales: By two-to-one (62-321%), voters support changing state law to allow for Sunday sales of beer, wine, and liquor.

Oppose forced unionization: By 52-34%, voters disagree with the Malloy administration’s push to unionize certain daycare providers and personal care attendants.

Reform immigration: 56% of voters support creating a path to legal status for illegal immigrants, and just 37% say such people should be required to leave the country.

Skip Davos: By 48-35%, voters disapprove of the Governor’s decision to attend the World Economic Forum.

Complete results are available here: Toplines (PDF); Survey (PDF); Crosstabs (XLS)

Methodology: The phone survey was conducted on Wednesday and Thursday, February 1 and 2, of 500 likely Connecticut voters and has a margin or error of 4.5 % with a 95% level of confidence. The survey was conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, which is associated with Rasmussen Reports. Question wording was based on public polling conducted by NBC News/Wall Street Journal, ABC News/Washington Post, CBS/New York Times, Quinnipiac, University of New Hampshire, Rasmussen, and Pew.

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