Realtor Poll Shows Shays, Courtney Ahead

J. Dineen and Associates (update – see end of post for more information) conducted a poll of registered voters on behalf of the Connecticut Association of Realtors, and made some surprising findings.

First, according to the poll, at least two congressional races are headed for blowouts.

Courtney (D) — 53%
Sullivan (R) — 20%

Shays (R) — 51%
Himes (D) — 31%

The two district polls were based on surveys of 348 registered voters (not likely voters, a crucial difference) for the 2nd district, and 378 registered voters for the 4th. The margin of error for these two polls was +/- 5%.

The first poll is the very first snapshot we’ve had of the 2nd district race, and while I expected Courtney to be in the lead, I wasn’t expecting a lead of over 30%! The crosstabs show that Courtney picks up the support of 63% of Democrats, but also 40% of Republicans and 49% of independents. Sullivan, by contrast, gets 16% support from Democrats and 23% support from independents, but perhaps most embarrassingly, only 32% of Republicans support him. Yes, Republicans prefer Courtney in this poll.

So how useful is it to measure the 2nd district race? I’m not sure. The sample size was small but respectable, and it’s not hard to picture Courtney leading over Sullivan, but the margin seems much too large. It’s also amazing that Republicans would support Courtney by 8%. Then again, it’s a poll only of registered voters–a poll of likely voters might show a tighter race.

Of course, residents of the 2nd still seem to have no idea who Sullivan is (a high number, 26%, volunteered either “undecided” or “neither” to the question). He hasn’t been on TV, and he really doesn’t have much cash to get his message out. By election day voters will probably have a better idea of who he is, which ought to help him a little.

A Big Lead for Shays

The second poll, of the fourth district, doesn’t mesh at all with an internal poll released by the Himes campaign, which showed the race even. I find it very hard to believe that Shays could actually have a 20-point lead in a district that has been extremely close during the last two election cycles, but let’s break down the crosstabs.

Shays leads among Republicans 77%-10%, while Himes has a smaller lead among Democrats, 56%-32%. Independents favor Shays 46%-31%. How accurately does this poll reflect district sentiment? It’s hard to say, again, because it’s so different from the previous poll. Himes doesn’t have nearly the recognition problems that Sullivan has, and the number responding as undecided or “neither” are lower here (17%).

I think in both cases the general trends, that Courtney and Shays are currently ahead, are probably accurate. I can’t imagine, though, that the leads of 20-30 points will hold up.

Barack Obama leads John McCain in the state 46%-37%, with 13% undecided. That’s actually just about what I would expect.

Results Also Show Economic Worries

The poll also gauged voters’ perspectives on the economy. From the release by the CT Realtors’ Association:

More than half of those polled, 53 percent, said they are directly affected by the volatility of the markets and its affect on the values of stocks and retirement investments, while only 11 percent said they are affected by the stability of their mortgage.

Still, 65 percent of voters said that now is a good time to invest in a home, compared to 27 percent who said it was not a good time. Voters are also split over whether or not Connecticut is headed in the right direction, with 42 percent saying yes, and 41 percent saying wrong direction.

Just over half of those polled, 53 percent, believe the federal government should take steps to ensure home owners are protected in the current economic crisis, while 42 percent said the government should not intervene. Voters were equally split about state intervention, with 48 saying the state legislature should take steps to prevent foreclosure, and 45 saying they should not.

Also, high percentages of residents 69% and 64% respectively, said that the cost of gasoline and heating oil were a significant concern.

Update See the full release here: polling-press-release-final-9-25-081.pdf

Update 1:53pm Here’s a bio of the pollster:

Jennifer Necci Dineen Ph.D., has extensive experience conducting qualitative and quantitative research. She has been an independent research consultant since 2002. In this capacity she has conducted focus groups and opinion surveys for community-based organizations, educational institutions, corporations and government agencies. Previously, she worked as a project director for the University of Connecticut’s Center for Survey Research and Analysis (1996-2001). In that capacity she directed for the U.S. Department of Labor, Fortune 500 companies, Connecticut State Agencies and the UConn Health Center. From 2001-2003 Dr. Dineen was also the director of UConn’s graduate program in survey research and an Assistant Professor in Residence. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Marist College and a Doctorate from the University of Connecticut.


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