With only four days before the election, University of Connecticut student support for Gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont (D) is high. His opponents, Bob Stefanowski (R) and Oz Griebel (I) rank low and close, according to a poll conducted by the Daily Campus. The poll had 63 responses and showed a 66 percent support for Lamont, 17 percent for Stefanowski and 12 percent for Griebel.
Stefanowski supporters indicated that when voting, they prioritize taxes, Connecticut’s economy and budget, according to the poll.
Lamont supporters, on the other hand, prioritize human, women’s’ and LGBTQ+ rights, gun control policies, the environment, education and health care, according to the poll.
Griebel supporters had a wide variety of issues they focus on, including student loans and taxes, the budget and economy and recreational marijuana.
Robert Lupton, a political science professor at UConn, said millennials tend to be Democratic, and the current Democratic affiliation advantage is the largest of any group dating back to the Silent Generation, referring to individuals born between 1928 and 1945.
“As with other voters, jobs and the economy are important to millennials,” Lupton said. “But note that millennials are more likely than members of other generations to believe that racial discrimination is the main barrier to blacks’ progess and that immigrants strengthen the country.”
Ronald Schurin, a political science professor at UConn, predicts millennial voters will vote along party lines.
“I expect those who vote will be guided by general party loyalty or feelings about President Trump, and that will work in the Democrats’ favor,” Schurin said.
Many Griebel supporters said they wanted to see the end of partisan politics and appreciated the ideas that Griebel has for the state.
One Griebel supporter said both Republicans and Democrats often spend too much time trying to undermine the other, resulting in a lack of productivity.
Lupton said partisanship tends to be a driving factor in vote choice in Connecticut, but Gubernatorial elections can differ because they may be insulated from the nationalization of politics.
“Moderate Republicans, or pro-business Republicans who do not empathize or prioritize conservative social policy attitudes, such as Stefanowski, can attract electoral support even in a Democratic state like Connecticut,” Lupton said.
Lupton said Griebel’s non-affiliated candidacy could have a large effect on the race, but even with his rising poll numbers, Lupton said the independent will not win.
“(Griebel) has zero chance of winning, but he could spoil the race for either of the major party candidates,” Lupton said.
Schurin said it will be interesting to see who Griebel gains support from.
“There’s an independent candidate with substantial support and it’s not clear where he’ll pull most of his votes from,” Schurin said. “Moreover, (the weekend before Election Day), we’ll see massive barrage of advertising on both sides.”
Lupton said the incumbent governor, Dannel Malloy, has a large effect on Lamont’s campaign, as Democrats hope he can help the state recover.
“Malloy, the most unpopular governor in the country, surely weighs on the party’s candidate this cycle, Ned Lamont,” Lupton said. “Connecticut’s looming fiscal crisis is the race’s more important issue, and some voters might question the Democratic candidate’s ability to manage the situation given Malloy’s notable struggles and unpopularity.”
Students had varied responses of why they will vote for their chosen candidate, including tax plans, social issues and what they will do for the university.
“Bob Stefanowski is totally disconnected from the needs of the lower- and middle-class people in our state. Ned Lamont has demonstrated an ability to be able to empathize with people in need,” one participant said, who indicated they would vote for Lamont.
Some people disagreed with Lamont’s stances, and worry he will be similar to current Governor Dannel Malloy.
“I’m a staunch Republican who believes firmly that Ned Lamont is just another four years of Malloy. Stefanowski is a breath of fresh air who brings a business sense to Connecticut,” a Stefanowski voter said.
Another Lamont voter acknowledged that Malloy is not well-liked, but has not lost faith in the Democratic party.
“Even though Malloy has not been as effective as governor as we would have all hoped, I don’t think that means we should lose faith in the Democratic party and hand the reins over to the Republicans,” the participant said.
While Connecticut has been a fairly “blue” state since the early 1990s, Republicans won the governorship in 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006, and Governor Malloy’s two victories have been narrow ones, said Schurin.
“The Democrats have won all lower-ticket races since 1998 and now hold all five Congressional seats,” Schurin said. “But the Republicans have made consistent gains in the General Assembly, now standing at an 18-18 tie in the State Senate and a strong 72-79 minority position in the House of Representatives.”
Tax policies were another common reason for participant’s votes, Schurin said.
“(Stefanowski) will take an honest and hard line approach to the financial disaster going on in this state. With Ned’s irresponsible tax policies and blatant favoritism of union and state workers, I will not be able to afford to live in Connecticut after graduation,” a Stefanowski supporter said.
Schurin said many students are concerned about the condition of the state after they graduate.
“Connecticut has long been an exporter of 21-35-year olds, due to a combination of factors that include job prospects, housing costs and general quality of life issues,” Schurin said.
Another participant said Stefanowski’s tax plan will not help the state and university.
“[His] tax cut proposals aren’t realistic and will hurt the UConn community,” the participant said. Lupton said the state that while Lamont is ahead in polls, Stefanowski may gain more support than voters expect.
“Connecticut is unusual because the state is overwhelmingly Democratic and national partisan tides currently favor the Democrats,” Lupton said. “Indeed, a new Quinnipiac poll finds that Lamont’s lead over Stefanowski is within the margin of error.”
Ashley Anglisano is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.