By SUSAN HAIGH
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s campaign is making the strong sell to female voters in Connecticut, banking that his positions on gun control, pay equity, domestic violence and a higher minimum wage will give the first-term incumbent an edge in the tight race against Republican businessman Tom Foley.
Besides launching the “Women for Malloy-Wyman” constituency group to “organize, mobilize and turn-out women,” the campaign has been holding “women-to-women” phone banks in hopes of encouraging women to vote for Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman.
The campaign is currently running a TV ad that criticizes Foley for receiving the political endorsement of the socially conservative Family Institute, which the spot calls “anti-women” and part of “the radical right wing.” And to help rally the female troops even more, the campaign has invited former Secretary of State and potential 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to Connecticut to campaign for Malloy.
Despite such efforts, Foley contends he has made inroads with female voters because of his stance on economic issues and that Malloy’s assumed advantage as a Democrat is not that great.
“Malloy, he’s defending his base and I’m reaching out to his base,” said Foley, adding how his campaign formed a “Women for Foley” organization and that he’s “pretty happy” with the support he has received from women in recent polling. “So he’s doing these things to prevent his base from coming over and supporting me on the issues. But it’s all scare stuff.”
Wyman last week joined a group of female Democratic legislators on a conference call with reporters and chastised Foley for not saying whether he would support Malloy’s proposed legislation that would immediately remove firearms when a judge issues a temporary restraining order. She called on Foley to “come out and tell the women of this state where he stands.”
But when asked about the legislation, Foley said he would definitely support it. Foley said he also supports both abortion rights and gay marriage, despite the Family Institute’s opposition. Foley, who met with the group in June, said the only issue he knows the Family Institute agrees with him on is doctor-assisted suicide, which Foley opposes, saying he doesn’t believe a system can be created with enough patient protections.
Women are an important voting bloc in Connecticut. According to 2013 U.S. Census figures, 51.2 percent of the state’s nearly 3.6 million residents are women. Nationally, women make up 50.8 percent of the population.
A Sept. 10 Quinnipiac University Poll determined 46 percent of likely voters support Foley for governor while 40 percent back Malloy and seven percent support conservative petitioning candidate Joe Visconti. When broken down by gender, 45 percent of women supported Malloy, compared to 38 percent for Foley and nine percent for Visconti. In contrast, the poll shows that Foley receives strong support from men, with 54 percent saying they’d vote for the businessman, compared to 35 percent for Malloy and five percent for Visconti.
The survey of 1,304 likely voters has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.
Given Foley’s strong support from men, Poll Director Douglas Schwartz said it makes sense that Malloy would focus on winning over women.
“He’s going to have to do better if he wants to offset that big lead Foley has among men,” Schwartz said. “Traditionally, Democrats appeal more to women than men. So you try to appeal to your base, both in terms of getting them out to vote as well as getting them out to vote for you.”