News Ticker

Taxes and State Budget Woes Major Issues in November Election

Voters favor electronic tolls and tax increases on wealthy to help close budget gaps

A new poll from Sacred Heart University’s Institute for Public Policy, commissioned in conjunction with Hearst Connecticut Media, shows that the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial candidates in the 2018 elections are running a tight race in Connecticut, with Democrat Ned Lamont favored over Republican challenger Bob Stefanowski by 6.2 percentage points. At the same time, a large number of undecided voters are split between the two candidates.

Residents responding to the telephone survey, conducted September 12-17, also are favoring Democratic candidates running for U.S. Senate and House of Representative seats. And on the national front, only one-third of those polled in Connecticut approve of the job President Trump is doing.

The poll, conducted by telephone, asked 21 questions of 501 state residents who are likely voters. Respondents also commented on the issues that will help guide their decisions in November such as taxes, the state budget and adding tolls on Connecticut’s highways.

Specifics show 43.1 percent of Connecticut voters currently support Lamont (D) for governor compared to 36.9 percent who support Stefanowski (R). Unaffiliated voters are favoring Stefanowski by a 36.5 percent to 30.2 percent margin. In addition, another 28.6 percent of unaffiliated voters were undecided at the time of the poll.

A significant gender gap exists as 50.5 percent of female voters support the democratic candidate, compared to 28.5 percent of female voters who support the Republican. However, 43.4 percent of likely male voters support Stefanowski, compared to 37.8 percent of male voters who support Lamont.

The top issues driving voter concerns in the governor’s race in Connecticut were the “high overall tax burden” (23.2 percent) or “state budget crisis” (22.8 percent). In addition, leading up to the election to choose his successor, only 16.8 percent of Connecticut voters “approve” of the job Dannel Malloy is doing as governor.

In other key findings, one-half of Connecticut voters (52.2 percent) reported they “strongly” or “somewhat” agree with creating electronic tolls on state highways to help pay for highway improvements to relieve congestion. Also, three-fifths of Connecticut voters (61.3 percent) reported they “strongly” (45.4 percent) or “somewhat” (20.9 percent) agree with a question regarding the fairness of raising taxes on people with incomes over $1 million if the State cannot solve its budget crisis by cutting state services and spending.

Nationally, less than one-third of Connecticut voters (33.9 percent) approve of how Donald Trump is handling his job as president, and 56.3 percent of unaffiliated voters disapprove of his performance. Further, if the elections of the U.S. House of Representatives were held today, 45.3 percent of Connecticut voters suggest they will support the Democratic candidate in their district compared to 32.3 percent who will support the Republican candidate. Among unaffiliated voters, 36.5 percent support the Democratic congressional candidate in their district compared to 30.2 percent who support the Republican candidate.

“Our poll results show that Lamont enjoys a six percent lead over Stefanowski with likely voters (43.1 to 36.9%),” reports Lesley DeNardis, executive director of the Institute for Public Policy and director of Sacred Heart University’s master of public administration program.  “However, the Republican candidate is making inroads among unaffiliated voters, increasing his support from 29.8 percent in August to 36.5 percent in September, compared to 30.2 percent for Lamont. It is important to note that six weeks out from the election, significant numbers of voters are still undecided (16.2 percent), particularly the unaffiliated (28.6 percent), making this gubernatorial race highly competitive. Topping voters’ concerns and likely to drive turnout this fall are the high tax burden and the state budget crisis. The candidate that can offer workable solutions to address these concerns will have the edge this November.”

GreatBlue Research Inc., conducted the Connecticut-specific scientific telephone survey on behalf of the SHU Institute for Public Policy, interviewing 501 residents statewide who indicated that they were “likely” to vote in the 2018 election for governor. Statistically, a sample of 501 telephone interviews represents a margin for error of +/-4.32 percent at a 95 percent confidence level. 

 The next poll covering issues related to the Governor’s race will be conducted in early October.

Sacred Heart’s Institute for Public Policy, which was established in 2017 in the College of Arts and Sciences, is aligned with the University’s new master of public administration program. In addition to hosting state-wide polls, the institute conducts public policy research, hosts public forums and workshops and serves as a public-policy learning incubator for students.

A PDF file of complete polling results is available at