Monday, October 30, 2006

Murphy Leads Johnson

Today the Hartford Courant released its first poll of the fifth district race, and the news is great for Chris Murphy. The results show Murphy leading 46%-42% with 9% of voters still undecided.



More poll details from the Courant:
“These results paint a picture of a very vulnerable incumbent,” said Monika McDermott, the UConn poll’s research director. “Likely voters aren’t happy with Johnson’s performance, and they say they’re ready for a change.”

The UConn poll also points to the importance of another national and state trend – the rise of unaffiliated voters. In the poll, Johnson is predictably far ahead of Murphy with Republican voters, by 83 percent to 16 percent.

Among Democrats in the sample, Murphy is ahead by 77 percent to 16 percent. But the two “major” parties now represent just 55 percent of the registered voters in the 5th Congressional District, with 45 percent of voters registering as either unaffiliated or minor party members.

“These independent voters prefer Murphy over Johnson 45 percent to 36 percent,” McDermott said. “That’s a preference among unaffiliated voters that could well decide the outcome in this race.”

The UConn poll found that 9 percent of voters are still undecided and that the “soft” support for each candidate is about equal. (Among Johnson voters, 17 percent said they may still change their mind by Election Day; 15 percent of Murphy supporters say the same.) But McDermott said that these are fairly typical numbers coming into the last week of an election, and it’s very hard to predict how the undecided voters will eventually break out.

Geographically, the UConn poll also shows Johnson in trouble in one crucial area of the district – the affluent, educated Farmington Valley suburbs of Avon, Canton, Simsbury and Farmington. In her past two elections, Johnson has racked up tallies of 60 percent or more in these towns. But the UConn poll apparently shows that Johnson’s support there has been cut roughly in half, with Murphy leading among likely Farmington Valley voters by 52 percent to 36 percent.

The 5th District race got off to a negative start in April, when the liberal advocacy group, MoveOn.org, attacked Johnson with ads accusing her of getting caught “red-handed” supporting the controversial Medicare Plan D for prescription drug reimbursement and for failing to question Iraq war contractors. Johnson quickly replied with negative ads against Murphy.

This atmosphere of negativity, however, seems to have hurt Johnson more than Murphy. When the sample was asked whose ads have been more negative, 34 percent said Johnson’s, and 29 percent said Murphy’s ads were more negative.

Murphy, reached Sunday afternoon while campaigning in Torrington, said the UConn poll results fell roughly in line with internal polls conducted by his campaign since the summer, which have showed that he has gradually closed the gap and pulled even with Johnson.

This race is ours! It's time to get out there and win over the 9% of undecided voters. Get off the computer and volunteer for the Murphy campaign! Just one more week of work to ensure the 24 years of Nancy Johnson ends!

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