Polling Showing Lamont Support Softening

Hartford – The release of three recent surveys by Morning Consult and Tremont Public Advisors show that after winning the Connecticut Governor’s race in 2018 with 49.4% of the vote, Governor Lamont’s job approval rating over the first four months of his term continues to lag with Connecticut residents and voters. The polls varied in timing and methodology but were consistent in key areas:

  • A steady group of about 40% +/- of Connecticut residents disapprove of the job Governor Lamont is doing as Governor. (46.2% voted for Lamont’s Republican opponent in 2018)

  • Lamont’s voters seem to be moving from approval to undecided (not disapproval). All three polls showed double digit deficits below 50% approval and undecideds ranging from 29%-42%.

A Q-poll released 3/9/11 showed then Governor Malloy with an approval rating of 35% vs. a disapproval rating of 40%.

“Winning the election with less than half the vote presents any Governor with a hurdle to overcome in gaining the approval of half of Connecticut residents. When you add in how politicized the toll debate has become and the administration’s various proposals for cost reductions to bring the budget into balance, there are a number of Lamont’s supporters who have moved into the undecided column” stated Matthew Hennessy Managing Director of Tremont Public Advisors.

*The Tremont surveys differed from the Morning Consult survey in timing, methodology, weighting of demographics and number of questions asked.

*The Tremont surveys differed from the Morning Consult survey in timing, methodology, weighting of demographics and number of questions asked.

Between 4/18/19 and 4/20/19 Tremont Public Advisors conducted a survey of 1,333 self-identified Connecticut voters using an on-line survey platform. Respondents were allowed to take the survey only once and were restricted from choosing more than one answer. The answer choices were shown in a random order. The poll population consisted of Connecticut internet users viewing content on a network of web publisher sites on both mobile and desktop devices. The survey answers have a MMOE of no more than +/- 2.5%.

Gender, age and location of the survey respondents were inferred by data correlated to the I.P. address of the respondent. The survey used statistical weighting procedures to account for deviations in the survey sample from known population characteristics, which helps correct for differential survey participation and random variation in samples. The overall adult sample is weighted based on U.S. Census data using a procedure to match the demographic makeup of the target population of Connecticut internet users by gender, age and geography.

The survey was designed and paid for by Tremont Public Advisors, LLC.

Tremont Poll Shows Connecticut Taking A "Wait and See" Approach to Lamont

Connecticut Taking A “Wait and See” Approach to Lamont


CONTACT: Tremont Public Advisors, 860-986-7737


Hartford – In the wake of a state budget just released by Governor Ned Lamont designed to address structural issues with state government finances, a survey of Connecticut residents shows many are taking a “wait and see” approach to the Lamont Administration.

Tremont Public Advisors conducted an on-line survey of 1,507 Connecticut residents between February 22 and February 25, 2019 testing Governor Lamont’s favorability. The survey showed 33% of residents hadn’t developed an opinion on Governor Lamont, 23% had a favorable opinion and 44% had an unfavorable opinion.

“The good news for Governor Lamont is that most residents have either a favorable opinion of him or are withholding judgement until they learn more about his agenda. Coming off last November’s close race for Governor, Lamont doesn’t have excess political capital to spend when he is making tough choices during the budget process. However, it looks like most residents are giving Lamont the benefit of the doubt to deal with state government’s difficult fiscal situation.” stated Matt Hennessy the Managing Director of Tremont Public Advisors.

In a similar survey conduct by Quinnipiac University in March of 2011 testing then Governor Malloy’s job approval after announcing his first budget, 25% of the respondents had no opinion, 35% approved and 40% disapproved.

Survey Results

Q1: As a Connecticut resident, do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Governor Ned Lamont?

Unfavorable    44%

DK/Other        33%

Favorable        23%


About Tremont Public Advisors, LLC: Tremont Public Advisors is a leading Public Affairs and Federal Lobbying firm in Washington D.C. and Hartford, Connecticut.




Between 2/22/19 and 2/25/19 Tremont Public Advisors conducted a survey of 1,507 Connecticut residents over age 18 using an on-line survey platform. Respondents were allowed to take the survey only once and were restricted from choosing more than one answer. The answer choices were shown in a random order. The poll population consisted of Connecticut internet users viewing content on a network of web publisher sites on both mobile and desktop devices. The survey answers have a MMOE of no more than +/- 2.5%.

Gender, age and location of the survey respondents were inferred by data correlated to the I.P. address of the respondent. The survey used statistical weighting procedures to account for deviations in the survey sample from known population characteristics, which helps correct for differential survey participation and random variation in samples. The overall adult sample is weighted based on U.S. Census data using a procedure to match the demographic makeup of the target population of Connecticut internet users by gender, age and geography.

The survey was designed and paid for by Tremont Public Advisors, LLC.



Tremont Director On Opposition Research with Governing Magazine

The Growing Need for Opposition Research -- on Yourself -- in Today's Political World

BY: Alan Greenblatt | February 15, 2018


The past is never dead. For all the warnings millennials have received about making sure their social media accounts are kept clean so they won't come back to haunt them later in their careers, lately it's been baby boomers and Gen Xers tripped up by analog documents from the past.

The series of recent scandals in Virginia was kicked off by the emergence of a 35-year-old yearbook page from Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam's medical school days. Back in September, members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee grilled then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh about entries in his high school yearbook and the calendar he kept as a student.

Now reporters all over the country are scouring old yearbooks, looking for more examples of racist or otherwise disturbing images or language from the deep past of politicians. Last week, the Virginian-Pilot reported that Virginia Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment served as managing editor for a Virginia Military Institute yearbook edition that was filled with racial slurs and blackface photos. 

All of this suggests that opposition research -- as well as self-research, which refers to candidates hiring investigators to look into their own closets -- will be a growing field in the years ahead.

"With these stories, any credible candidate is immediately going to understand the importance of self-research and not make that an issue," says Democratic strategist Tracy Sefl. "Anything that can be shared, discovered or commented upon needs to be uncovered, preferably by one's own team."

In a partisan age, long-ago offenses -- whether serious or slight -- are likely to be seized upon by political enemies and media, says David Carney, a Republican consultant.

"Social media itself is so easily offended by everything, we're in a gotcha kind of mode," he says. "No one has any interest in forgiving or forgetting."

The things that might be forgiven change over time. Not that long ago, evidence of past marijuana use would be disqualifying for a candidate. But this week, the Twitter universe was debating Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris' claim that she smoked pot in college, implying she was trying to inflate her street cred.

By contrast, what Northam has found -- along with so many lawmakers brought down by #metoo revelations about sexual harassment -- is that there is now less tolerance for offenses regarding race and gender than there was in the past.

Back when politics was more strictly an old boys' club, many offenses were often winked at rather than frowned upon, says Matthew Hennessy, a Democratic political consultant. Not anymore.

"People ask different questions when it's not just older white males running the show," Hennessy says. "When you have more African-Americans and women [in power], you're going to answer for it. People are putting it on the table that these behaviors in the past are relevant to how we talk about these issues in the present."


Why Candidates Should Do Opposition Research on Themselves

Opposition research -- digging up dirt on one's opponents in hopes of embarrassing them during the campaign -- is a time-honored tradition in politics. For that reason, it's important for candidates to look into their own pasts so their campaigns aren't caught off-guard when revelations turn up.

Still, politicians are often reluctant to spend money to hire investigators to look at themselves. They often believe they have a good enough memory for anything that might look bad, and they're reluctant to spend money on something that's potentially onerous and upsetting to go through.

But professional opposition researchers say that self-research is essential.

"It's a very cost-effective investment for a candidate," Sefl says. "They may balk at the initial cost, but it's cheaper than lawyers and certainly cheaper than television commercials featuring your yearbook."

Sometimes candidates don't have a strong enough sense themselves of what will play badly for them. Morals and opinions change, so things they didn't regard as a problem at the time could still come back to haunt them. 

"We've got to research you with the same eye that we're researching your opponent," says Michael Rejebian, a Democratic opposition researcher. "You're not going to like, most times, what I find, but at the end of the day it helps you."

Part of the damage to Northam's reputation derived from the fact that he and his team weren't ready to respond to the yearbook revelation. At first, he apologized for appearing in a photo that showed someone in blackface and someone else in a Ku Klux Klan costume. The next day, he claimed he wasn't in the photo but admitted to appearing in blackface on another occasion.

"Even if you know about something, but no one else in the campaign knows, this stuff comes up and then you've got to have a response in 15 minutes," Rejebian says. "Having the information allows you the time to craft a truthful, legitimate, thoughtful response."


Knowing Where to Look for Skeletons in the Closet

Rejebian and his partner Alan Huffman wrote a book about opposition research (known colloquially as "oppo") called We're With Nobody

Too often, Huffman says, contemporary campaigns rely on easily obtainable information drawn from internet searches or their own video tracking of the opposing candidate. Such "easy catches" can make for quick media hits but don't offer the depth of hiring a pro to spend a couple of weeks nosing around. 

"I still do the full meal deal when it comes to oppo, but that's not always the case," Huffman says. "Many campaigns rely on a more superficial approach to analyzing a candidate's fitness to serve, which would not likely encompass details a source could lead you to, and which may be documented in the musty shelves of a library."

An experienced researcher will know where to look. The story of U.S. Sen. Larry Craig being arrested at the Minneapolis airport for lewd conduct back in 2007 didn't break until a couple of months after the arrest. Someone figured out that since there were no direct flights between Washington, D.C., and Craig's home state of Idaho, it was worth checking the arrest records around the airport where he was most likely to change planes. 

"That's what it really comes down to: Do you have the money and do you have someone who's experienced enough to know where to look?" says Larry Zilliox, a retired opposition researcher.


Due Diligence and the Thomas Eagleton Question

In an earlier era, due diligence was essentially a foreign concept.

When Democrat George McGovern chose Thomas Eagleton as his running mate in the 1972 presidential race, vice presidential nominees were still a last-minute selection at conventions. McGovern offered Eagleton the position following a two-minute phone conversation.

It turned out that Eagleton had undergone electroshock treatments for depression years earlier. Eighteen days later, he was dropped from the ticket. Later, when asked why he hadn't mentioned the treatment, Eagleton said no one had asked him about it.

"We went over names casually, didn't do any background checking," McGovern campaign manager Gary Hart -- later a presidential candidate himself -- told NPR in 2012. "It wasn't mandated in those days as it is now. Certainly after '72 it came to be mandated. But the people trusted other people's word."

These days, vice presidential candidates undergo thorough vetting. What about candidates for less visible posts? 

Hennessy, the Democratic consultant, says it would be a mistake for anyone running for Congress, statewide office or mayor not to undergo self-vetting. Sefl, the strategist, argues that even candidates for state legislature or lower-profile offices should go through the process. Their races might not draw much attention but any juicy disclosure very well might.

"No matter how old or buried something may be, all it takes is one mention of it online to ignite into a bigger story," Sefl says.

Every serious campaign should do serious research on itself, to be prepared for anything that could possibly come up, says Carney, the GOP consultant.

"I wouldn't work for a candidate who says, 'Oh, no, I'm perfect,'" he says. "You know there are huge landmines down the road."


This article was printed from: http://www.governing.com/topics/politics/gov-ralph-northam-importance-opposition-research.html

How Accurate Were the Final Polls in the Race for CT Governor?

With the polls closed, how did the final public polls do?

With the race for Governor of Connecticut complete and Ned Lamont confirmed as the winner (685,453) with 49.1% of the vote over Bob Stefanowski (648,086) 46.4%[1] it is a good time to take a look back at the public polling of the race and see where they got it right. Between 10/28 -11/1/18, Quinnipiac University, Hearst/Sacred Heart University, Emerson College and Gravis Marketing all completed polling on citizen preferences in the Connecticut Governor’s race which they then shared with the public.

Tremont Public Advisors concluded two related surveys on 10/31 and 11/3/18 asking Connecticut residents which candidate for governor most “shared their values”.

The polls were conducted in a variety of manners with sample sizes ranging from 500-805 verified respondents with margins of error from 3.7-4.3%. How did they do?

Absolute error on the projected vote margin (or “absolute error”), is computed as the absolute value of the margin in the poll minus the same margin in the certified vote. Quinnipiac and Hearst/SHU polls had the smallest absolute error in the group with 1.3%. Their results most closely tracked the final difference between Lamont and Stefanowski (2.7%) in the final vote tally.

Quinnipiac, Emerson and Gravis correctly identified Ned Lamont as the likely winner of the Governor’s race.

Lamont’s final share of the vote fell within the range (including MOE) identified by Emerson and Gravis. Quinnipiac correctly identified both Lamont and Stefanowki’s share of the final vote within the MOE of its survey.

The final 11/3/18 Tremont survey asking Connecticut residents which candidate most “shared their values” had results that correlated closely with each candidates’ final share of the vote within the MOE with an absolute error of 1.3% (using “shared values” as a proxy for electoral support).

Though Quinnipiac concluded its polling eight days before Election Day, its final survey best reflected the election outcome. The other surveys, in all but one case, correctly identified the winner, yet understated the share of the vote that eventually went to Stefanowski possibly missing the late leakage of Republican voters from independent candidate Oz Griebel to Stefanowski.

[1] Results from CT Secretary of State’s website and the New Haven Independent’s tally of the vote in New Haven.

The final polls by Tremont Public Advisors and Q-poll were the most accurate public polls

The final polls by Tremont Public Advisors and Q-poll were the most accurate public polls

NBC News Quotes Tremont Director on Close Race for CT Governor

Battle Over Taxes and Deficits: Connecticut Governor Race Remains Tight

What will drive voters, dismay over Trump or dislike of outgoing governor?

By Noreen O'Donnell


Published Nov 3, 2018 at 8:58 AM | Updated at 8:58 AM CDT on Nov 3, 2018

Neil Covert wants to replace Connecticut’s outgoing Democratic governor, Dannel Malloy, with a Republican who will not propose higher taxes or tolls on the state’s highways as a way to tackle the state’s financial problems.

On Tuesday, the 49-year-old Kent resident will vote for Bob Stefanowski, who is in a tight race against Democrat Ned Lamont.

Stefanowski says he will phase out the state income tax over eight years and other taxes immediately, proposals Lamont argues would drive up the need to raise property taxes.

Covert, who works for Westport Glass Co., knows that the Democrats have been trying to link Stefanowski to President Donald Trump, but says the strategy makes little sense, nor does it faze him. He likes Trump.

“I’m just looking for a boost in the economy,” Covert said this week during a lunch break in Greenwich. “This year I’ve seen more work trucks on the road.”


But for Patrice Yachkoff, a 39-year-old stylist for a store in Greenwich, Trump is key to her decision this year. She will vote for Lamont, both because of his ideas — she is open to tolls on out-of-state trucks traveling through Connecticut as Lamont favors — and her opposition to Trump.

“I would never vote for anybody that agrees with Trump,” said Yachkoff, who lives in Norwalk.


The political strategies at play add up to a tug of war between Republicans focused on dislike for Malloy and Democrats hoping to capitalize on low regard for President Donald Trump.

Stefanowski has repeatedly tried to link Lamont with his fellow Democrat, among the most unpopular governors in the country, if not the most unpopular.

“Connecticut used to lead the nation in jobs and growth,” Stefanowski wrote in one early tweet. “Now because of the failed leadership of politicians like Dan Malloy and Ned Lamont, we have fallen to 49th in the nation. It’s time to #RebuildConnecticut.”

Lamont for his part wants to tie Stefanowski to a president whose approval rating in the state is only at 34 percent, according to a September poll, and whose policies Lamont says would hurt Connecticut. When Trump endorsed Stefanowski after he won the GOP primary, Lamont was quick with a Twitter insult: “Bob Trumpanowski.”

More seriously, he criticized the effects of the GOP-led tax reform on Connecticut residents and predicted damage from Stefanowski's economic proposals.

“Thanks to Trump, 181,000 Connecticut residents are being taxed on an extra $10 billion,” he wrote. “The cap on deductions hits CT hard. Our middle class is paying billions more for giveaways to the wealthiest and big corporations. Stefanowski's plan hits CT's middle class one more time.”

Governor races are typically about local not national issues, but Trump’s is not a typical presidency and the divisiveness surrounding his administration is affecting politics at all levels. Connecticut’s troubled economy is looming large, but so is the president. In one campaign video, for example, Lamont is seen talking to a crowd about women's rights, abortion rights -- and Trump.

"None of these are state issues," said Scott McLean, a political science professor at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut. "They don't have to do with the state issues that voters tell us they care about, which is the economy and taxes, schools. It's all about linking the Republicans in Connecticut with what's going on in Washington."

But if Republicans are successful, Malloy’s struggles with the state's economy will reflect on Lamont no matter that Lamont and Malloy are not political allies, that Lamont challenged Malloy for the 2010 Democratic nomination for governor and that Lamont, like Stefanowski in fact, has never served in state government.

"Lamont has not been part of the Malloy administration, the Malloy team, so he can say that there is some distance between him and the governor," said Ronald Schurin, an associate professor of political science at the University of Connecticut. "The Republicans will say, 'Well, it's a difference without a real distinction. They're both Democrats."

Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state 5 to 3 and the midterm elections could draw large numbers of voters dismayed with Trump's behavior. Against the Democrats' hopes of Connecticut remaining blue as a "blue wave" sweeps the country is the state's history of electing Republicans, John Rowland for three terms as governor (though he was later twice convicted on federal charges and went to prison) and then his lieutenant, Jodi Rell in 2006.

“There is an atmosphere that it’s possible and a history of it happening so in that sense it’s good for the Republicans but the challenges are difficult,” said Matthew Hennessy of Tremont Public Advisors, a Connecticut lobbying and public affairs firm.

The Cook Political Report classifies the governor's race as a toss-up, and says the seat is one of two that are at risk among the nine that Democrats are defending.

“Connecticut is a solidly blue state which inherently favors Democrat businessman Ned Lamont, but voter dissatisfaction with the direction of the state may help GOP businessman Bob Stefanowski exceed expectations,” it wrote.

A Sacred Heart University/Hearst Connecticut Media poll released Thursday showed Stefanowski ahead, 40 percent to 38 percent for Lamont. A recent one from the Quinnipiac Poll found that Lamont was ahead 47 percent to 43 percent. Both leads were within the margin of error. An independent candidate, Oz Griebel, was polling in the single digits.

A top issue for most voters is Connecticut’s financial woes, the $4.6 billion deficit projected for the upcoming two-year budget. It is one of the few states that hasn’t recovered all of the jobs lost during the 2008 recession, a report issued in July found. A loss of manufacturing was the largest cause for the drop in the state’s economy.

For 77-year-old Carolyn McGrath, the state’s fiscal problems are a top concern. Malloy has driven the state into a financial hole, sending home prices down, she said. Stefanowski, unlike Malloy, understands financial issues, she said.

“We’ve got a good Republican here,” she said. “We’ve got to save the state. He’s our last hope.”

Stefanowski, 56, is a former business executive who worked for General Electric, 3iGroup plc, UBS and Dollar Financial Group and who now lives in Madison. He has focused on reducing taxes — phasing out the state income tax, corporate income tax and business entity taxes and eliminating the gift and estate taxes — and cutting state spending.

But he also has an A from the National Rifle Association, in a state that was devastated by the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and has refused to clarify his position. Democrats have been trying to use the high rating against him, arguing that he will try to roll back the legislation passed after the shooting that Lamont says he will protect.

Lamont, 64, who lives in Greenwich, is an entrepreneur who built a telecommunications business. He beat former U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman in 2006 in the Democratic primary, before losing in the general election to Lieberman, who ran as an independent. He is emphasizing job training, transportation improvements and tolls on tractor-trailers traveling on Connecticut's highways.

Two students at Norwalk Community College — Victoria Rosenblum, 20, of Greenwich, Kevin Ostos, 22, of Stamford — were as focused on national issues as on local issues: The Paris Agreement on climate change, student loans, immigrants. They will be voting for Lamont.

They both work at a kennel, she as a dog walker, he was an attendant.

Ostos said Trump represented the parts of the country resistant to change — more accepting of immigrants and of rights for the transgender community, for example.

“Everything is changing more rapidly than the older generation can comprehend,” Ostos said. “Trump represents the generation that is nationalistic.”

Rosenblum said she appreciated the tax cut approved by Congressional Republicans and Trump, but beyond that: “He doesn’t have the country’s best interest at heart.”






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Tremont Director On Next UN Ambassador

Reports Say Trump’s Considering Connecticut’s Joe Lieberman For UN Ambassador. Here’s Why.

Hartford Courant


Christopher Keating

Media reports have placed former U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman on President Donald Trump’s short list to be the next ambassador to the United Nations.

Lieberman, a Democrat who represented Connecticut in the Senate from 1989-2013 and was Al Gore’s running mate in 2000, would replace former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who is leaving the post at the end of the year. Last year he was offered the job of FBI director by Trump, but turned it down due to a conflict of interest.

What has Lieberman been doing since leaving the Senate in 2013?

After serving 24 years in the Senate, Lieberman, 76, is working part time at the New York City law firm of Marc Kasowitz, a well-known attorney who has been President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer. Lieberman has also served as co-chairman of No Labels, the group that promotes political bipartisanship to solve problems. He helped run an all-day convention in New Hampshire during the 2016 election cycle that attracted eight presidential candidates.

Who else is under consideration for the U.N. post?

Media reports say that another possibility is Dina Powell, the former national security adviser who is on good terms with Trump. Powell left the White House to return to a senior level position with Goldman Sachs investment bank, but reports said she is considering returning to public life. She is said to be favored by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, two of Trump’s closest advisers.

Other possibilities include U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell and U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft.

Why would Lieberman be picked?

“A lot of folks say Joe would be a good U.N. ambassador,’’ said Matthew J. Hennessy, a former fundraiser and campaign adviser to Lieberman who worked on the senator’s staff in Washington. “Trump has had affection for Joe since meeting with him at Trump Tower before he got sworn in. The reason to pick Joe is he possibly could have a good path though the Senate. That’s the very practical thing about picking him. Also, he has a lot of familiarity with international issues. Joe is also very committed to the sovereignty and protection of Israel.’’

Why would Lieberman not be picked?

“He’s actually been a very outspoken senator of the international groups that Trump has been dismissive of,’’ Hennessy said. “NATO. The Paris Accord. Environmental agreements. Human rights agreements. That’s the inherent problem. That’s on the downside. He would not be rattling cages over things that would disrupt long-held American beliefs.’’

What other high-profile jobs has Lieberman explored?

During the tenure of then-President George W. Bush, Lieberman told The Courant that he was asked to consider the same job — ambassador to the United Nations. Later, he was asked to consider becoming Homeland Security chief after then-nominee Bernie Kerik of New York ran into controversy in December 2004 and withdrew.

Both times, Lieberman chose to remain in the U.S. Senate.

How close was Lieberman to becoming FBI director under President Trump?

Very close. He was interviewed at the White House in May 2017 to replace James Comey, who was fired.

When asked earlier this year if he had any regrets about not becoming the FBI director, Lieberman told CNN: “None at all. Out of a sense of duty and honor that [Trump] had asked me, and after extended conversation with my wife, I was going to do it. But there was a conflict of interest when the lawyer who founded the firm I’m with was asked by the president to defend him in the Mueller investigation.”

Does the U.N. ambassador job require Senate approval?

Yes. Lieberman would likely still have bipartisan support in the Senate, even though some liberal Democrats were skeptical that he should retain his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee. When Haley was under consideration in 2017, she was approved by the Senate, 96 to 4.

What do key swing voters, like Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, think?

In an interview with The Courant in her Washington office in 2012, Collins said she worked very closely with Lieberman on Homeland Security legislation and became his friend. She traveled to Connecticut to campaign for him in the general election during the contentious 2006 Senate race.

“We worked hand in glove to draft the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004,’’ Collins told The Courant. “That experience of working, literally day and night, with Joe cemented our friendship because both of us were committed to putting into law the recommendations of the 9-11 Commission. … I saw firsthand Joe’s absolute commitment to doing what he thought was right and his never giving up until we reached what appeared at times to be an impossible goal.’’

At the time, Collins added, “I consider him to be my closest friend in the Senate. … He’s a senator’s senator. He’s the way the Senate should be.’’

Tremont Director Quoted in Governing Magazine on Race for CT Governor

Republicans Could Take Control of These 2 Coastal Blue States


BY: Alan Greenblatt | October 3, 2018

In the blue states of Connecticut and Oregon, Republicans have fighting chances at winning governors' offices currently held by Democrats. 

In Connecticut, outgoing Democrat Dannel Malloy is one of the least popular governors in the country, with an approval rating of around 20 percent. He's raised taxes substantially, yet the state faces a budget shortfall in the neighborhood of $2 billion. Connecticut remains wealthy, but it's been shedding jobs and population as job creation has lagged well behind the nation as a whole.

"Structurally, it is indeed possible for the Republicans to take the governorship," says Matt Hennessy, a Democratic consultant in Connecticut. "Malloy is actually less popular than Trump, which is really saying something."

The race to replace Malloy is between two businessmen. Republican Bob Stefanowski has served as an executive with companies including General Electric and UBS, while Democrat Ned Lamont is a telecommunications company owner and investor. 

If you doubt a blue state like Connecticut would elect a Republican in a Democratic year, look around the neighborhood. Republican Govs. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Phil Scott of Vermont and Chris Sununu of New Hampshire are all favored to win second terms. Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo holds a single-digit polling lead over Republican Mayor Allan Fung in their rematch. And in Maine, the race to succeed GOP Gov. Paul LePage is a tossup. 

In Connecticut, Republicans have steadily been gaining ground on Malloy's watch. A decade ago, Democrats held a 114-37 majority in the state House and a 24-12 advantage in the state Senate. In 2016, however, Republicans tied the state Senate and came within four narrow losses of a House majority. 

"I honestly believe that in this state, it's really about how government policy is impacting local people here in Connecticut," says J.R. Romano, who chairs the state GOP. "It's getting harder and harder to be an average hard-working family in this state, and that's a direct result of Dan Malloy's policies. The cost of living is rising. Your taxes are rising."

For that reason, Romano says Democratic plans to make the governor's race all about President Trump aren't going to work.

Democrats aren't so sure. "What we're hearing at the doors is a lot about Trump," says Lori Pellitier, president of the Connecticut AFL-CIO. 

Stefanowski, who had not previously been active in politics, took 29 percent of the August primary vote in the five-way Republican field. Like many GOP gubernatorial candidates this year, he prevailed by pledging allegiance to the president.

"Stefanowski was clear to say he'd give Trump an A and would welcome him to Connecticut," Pelletier says. "He even got support from an illustrious tweet of the commander-in-chief." (Trump endorsed Stefanowksi on Twitter after the primary.)

Previous Republican governors of Connecticut have appealed to voters by taking liberal-to-moderate stances on issues such as abortion or environmental protections, says Hennessy. Stefanowski hasn't taken that approach. He argues the Affordable Care Act hasn't helped Connecticut; he opposes an increase in the minimum wage; and he has proposed phasing out the state income tax, which even some Republicans have described as a fantasy.

The two candidates have run ads attacking each other over the issue of payday loans, which can trap poor people in a cycle of debt. Stefanowski served as CEO of a payday lender, while Lamont's wife held investments in a payday lender.

"He’s telling lies about my wife," Lamont complained on Tuesday

Lamont, who spent a total of $20 million on his previous campaigns for governor and U.S. Senate, has devoted $8 million of his own money to this year's race so far, including an infusion of $5 million this week.

The race may come down to which battlefield of issues the campaign is fought on, Hennessy says. If Stefanowski is able to keep the focus on taxes, that could be problematic for Lamont. 

"Ned Lamont is going to raise your taxes, and that's what people do not want," says Romano. 

But Hennessy argues that if Lamont is able to get voters focused on other issues, the state's Democratic tilt -- and the fact that the party's candidates are favored in federal races throughout the state -- could help him overcome Malloy's unpopularity. 

"Ned has embraced a lot of key Democratic proposals on a basic minimum wage, on health care," Hennessy says. "He's checked all the boxes, in that sense."


GOP Challenges in Oregon Governor's Race

The contours of the race in Oregon are different. There, GOP state Rep. Knute Buehler is running against Democratic incumbent Gov. Kate Brown by presenting himself as a moderate. Most prognosticators give Brown the edge, but Real Clear Politics changed its rating of the race last week to tossup.

Buehler "leads with a moderate independent voice," says Monica Wroblewski, Buehler's campaign communications director. "He didn't support President Trump."

As in Connecticut, Buehler is complaining that taxes are too high. Meanwhile, Brown's approval ratings have been in the low 40s, with nearly as many Oregonians disapproving of her job performance. Brown's cap-and-trade proposal has gone nowhere, and the Department of Human Services has been hit with numerous complaints over the past couple of years for its handling of the foster care system.

"If you go half an hour outside of Portland, people feel they're ignored by this administration because it all caters to this liberal pocket," says Wroblewski.

A poll released last week by an Ohio-based firm showed Brown ahead by just a single percentage point. But a poll conducted by a Portland-based firm last month showed Brown with a 10-point lead. 

That's typical of recent Oregon elections: A poll will often come out showing that Republicans are closer than expected. But no Republican has been elected governor of Oregon since 1982. Out-of-state pollsters tend to miss some of the nuances of Oregon politics, says Jim Moore, a political scientist at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore. More voters are registered "unaffiliated" than Republican, but their turnout rate runs 20 to 30 percent behind those of Republicans and Democrats. Pollsters sometimes give the unaffiliated too much weight, Moore says.

Buehler, meanwhile, has a "whack-a-mole" problem, Moore suggests. He's presenting himself as a moderate on issues like abortion and immigration to appeal to unaffiliated voters, while at the same time trying to keep more conservative Republican voters on board. Democrats accuse him of talking out of both sides of his mouth, espousing different positions to different audiences, or least shading things differently now than he did during the primary campaign.

"It's created navigational problems for Buehler," say Christian Gaston, communications director for the Brown campaign. "He's trying to position himself in the middle of the electorate, but he's also trying to communicate to his base, which is very supportive of Trump."

Takeaways from the Connecticut GOP Primary for Governor


Hartford – The conclusion of the most expensive GOP primary for Governor in Connecticut’s history with a win by Bob Stefanowski, leaves no doubt the Connecticut Republican party, like the national GOP, is now the party of Donald Trump. Here are a few of our initial takeaways:

·         The approximately 143,000 Republican voters participating in the GOP Primary was a significant increase over the highly contested 2010 GOP primary for Governor which had 116,883 voters participate.

·         Trump voters played an important role in Stefanowski’s victory as he embraced the President while at the same time spending more than others, such as Tim Herbst, to specifically activate Trump voters.

·          Stemerman, Herbst and Obsitnik performed as expected based on our polling of the race, and the winner performed as expected (gaining about 30% of the primary vote to win).

·         Our final public survey showed Stefanowski picking up ground on Boughton, but Stefanowski outperformed his top range in our polling by a little less than 5% and Boughton underperformed his bottom range in our poll by about 6%.

·         As our polling consistently indicated, 70% of the GOP primary voters did not vote for the winning candidate.

·         The Citizens Election Program was a hinderance to candidates who decided to participate, failing to provide timely and sufficient funds to get the message out in the face of well financed competitors.


“This was an interesting and competitive race. By choosing Stefanowski the GOP will have a difficult time separating its’ image from that of Donald Trump. For Democrats, the challenge of separating themselves from Governor Malloy’s unpopularity will be lessened by the selection of his former competitor as their nominee.” Stated Matt Hennessy of Tremont Public Advisors.

Public Radio Covers Final Tremont GOP Poll

Poll Shows Boughton Still Leading The GOP Pack

By Ann Lopez


A poll of Connecticut Republican voters finds the party endorsed candidate for governor, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, is still ahead in the five-way gubernatorial primary.

The poll was released just ahead of Tuesay's primary election by Tremont Advisors, a federal lobbying firm with offices in Washington D.C. and Hartford. 

It finds Boughton with 31.5 percent support. That’s a drop from where he was in the Tremont poll a month ago, but still 10 points ahead of Bob Stefanowski, a former business executive from Madison. Stefanowski has 21.5 percent support. Former Greenwich hedge fund manager David Stemerman has 17 percent support, and former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst has 15.6 percent support. Steve Obsitnik, an entrepreneur from Westport, has 11.4 percent support.

“What is going on is as this race is coming to its conclusion and the spending has been pretty considerable by the parties. Boughton's lead has come a little bit and Stefanowski, Herbst and Stemerman are trying to chip away at his lead," said Matt Hennessy, managing director of Tremont Public Advisors. "And they are getting a little bit of progress with that, but you know we are four days out at this point and it’s unlikely from our data that Boughton will lose the primary. It looks like he will hold on to his lead.” 

The Stefanowski Campaign is challenging the findings of the Tremont poll. It released a statement calling the poll statistically insignificant. It calls Hennessy a Democrat lobbyist and a Hartford insider. But Hennessy defends his polling. He says Stefanowski should make public his polling methods that show him ahead in the race.

The Tremont Poll surveyed 1151 Connecticut Republican voters. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.


HBJ Covers Latest Tremont Poll

Survey: GOP gov. candidates gaining slightly on Boughton

Hartford Business Journal

BY Joe Cooper


Three Republican candidates for governor have made "modest gains" on Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton ahead of the party's primary next week, according to a new survey.

In the online survey released Friday by public affairs firm Tremont Public Advisors, GOP endorsed Mark Boughton received 31.5 percent of support from Republican voters ahead of the primary on Tuesday.

Trailing are Bob Stefanowski (21.5 percent), the former chief financial officer of UBS Investment Bank; David Stemerman (17 percent), a former hedge fund manager from Greenwich; and Tim Herbst (15.6 percent), the former first selectman of Trumbull. Steve Obsitnik (11.4 percent) landed fifth in the poll.


Stefanowski, Stemerman and Herbst each shortened the gap between them and Boughton since Tremont's July 23 poll.


But despite the progress, Tremont Managing Director Matt Hennessy said the other Republican candidates "aren't gaining ground fast enough to catch Boughton."


"Absent the complete collapse of support for one of Boughton's rivals whose supporters then switch en masse to another candidate, or an unusual surge of new Trump voters on primary day, it appears Boughton will hold onto his lead," Hennessy said.


The survey identified New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart as the leading candidate for Connecticut's lieutenant governor post. A Tremont survey in April said Stewart, then running for governor, was the state's top governor candidate.


That survey also said almost 58 percent of Connecticut residents would rather select a Republican over a Democrat (39 percent) on Election Day Nov. 6.


The winner of Tuesday's GOP primary will face the winner of the Democratic gubernatorial race between Ned Lamont, a Greenwich businessman who won the party's endorsement, and Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim.


Tremont's latest survey drew from 1,151 self-identified and registered Republicans from Tuesday through Thursday this week.