High favorability for Rep. Joe Courtney, including more than a third of Republicans and half of independents, is driving a strong lead for the Democratic incumbent over his Republican opponent, Mike France, who remains unknown to 71% of likely voters, according to a new poll commissioned by CT Examiner.
In a four-way contest between Courtney, France, Green Party candidate Kevin Blacker and Libertarian William Hall, Courtney is the choice of 51% of likely voters, compared to 29% for France, 5% for Hall and 2% for Blacker. 12% of likely voters remain undecided.
The CT Examiner/Fabrizio, Lee & Associates poll, conducted on Oct. 23-27, surveyed 1,800 likely voters, 600 per congressional district, and has a margin of error of +/- 4.0%.
Paul Herrnson, a professor of political science at the University of Connecticut, called the race between Courtney and France as a typical incumbent-challenger race.
“Most challenger-incumbent races are lopsided,” said Herrnson. “Usually … almost half the people can recall the incumbent’s name, and the challenger has low name recognition.”
Poll data found that seven in ten voters had either never heard of France or had no opinion about him, including about half of Republican voters.
Logan Dancey, a professor of political science at Wesleyan University, told CT Examiner that while Courtney’s district and Jahana Hayes’ district had similar partisan make-ups, Republicans may have chosen to invest in Hayes’ district because of Courtney’s tenure, which dates back to 2006.
“Courtney’s and Hayes seem about the same in terms of the kind of partisan lean of the districts in the last two presidential cycles. But Courtney has been in office longer. So Hayes, for that reason, might be seen as the more vulnerable incumbent,” said Dancey.
59% of voters said they approved of the job Courtney was doing in Congress, including 84 percent of Democrats, half of independent voters and 37% of Republican voters.
Abe Silk, campaign manager for Joe Courtney, said that despite the high approval numbers, the campaign would not take anything for granted.
“We will continue to campaign hard until polls close on Election Day, just as Congressman Courtney will continue his strenuous efforts to strengthen our region’s economy, train skilled manufacturing workers, and work with Democrats and Republicans to get meaningful things done for the people of eastern Connecticut,” Silk wrote in a statement.
Green Party candidate Kevin Blacker told CT Examiner that he wasn’t discouraged by the poll results.
“The Republicans and Libertarians have a better chance of getting more of what they want if they throw all their weight behind me and we help Old Joe Courtney into retirement. I am much more electable than Mike France. Side by side in a foot race I can beat Joe Courtney.”
The France campaign did not respond to a request for comment from CT Examiner in time publication.
More insights on data from the 2nd District
- 58% of likely voters said inflation while 37% said abortion rights. Nearly every Republican voter and about two-thirds of independent voters identified inflation as the deciding issue in the race, while two-thirds of Democrats said abortion rights
- France led with 58% of people who identified inflation as the key issue. Nearly 8 in 10 voters who identified abortion as the most important issue said they would vote for Courtney
- Two-thirds of women voters said they would vote for Courtney over France, while 50% of men said they would vote for France, compared to 42% for Courtney
- Nearly a quarter of voters who said they disapproved of Biden said they would vote for Courtney
It’s the second election poll sponsored by the nearly four-year-old online news startup CT Examiner. The nonpartisan poll was conducted by Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, an Alexandria, VA-based pollster with a who’s who list of corporate and Republican clients, including AARP and former President Donald Trump. Fabrizio has previously served as chief pollster for 5 presidential campaigns and in 2017 was awarded “Pollster of the Year” by the American Association of Political Consultants.