FAIRFIELD, Conn.—A new poll by Sacred Heart University’s Institute for Public Policy, completed in partnership with the Hartford Courant between September 17 and October 2, examined Connecticut residents’ reactions to local quality-of-life issues, rated Governor Ned Lamont’s performance and solicited responses about taxes, immigration, flavored e-cigarettes and the general cost of goods. The results depict an electorate divided by income and party affiliation, with significant concerns over the costs of living in Connecticut and mixed reviews for the governor’s performance to date.
The majority of Connecticut residents surveyed (59.4 percent) reported their quality of life in the state as either “excellent” (16.4 percent) or “good” (43 percent), which remains consistent with the 60.4 percent who reported the same in May of 2019. However, in contrast, a higher rate of September 2019 respondents expressed belief that the quality of life in Connecticut is “declining” (27.8 percent), compared to the rate of those who expressed belief that the quality of life is “improving” (14.9 percent).
Annual income factored significantly in these quality-of-life opinions, with 78.7 percent of respondents earning $150,000 or more per year reporting their quality of life as either “excellent” (41.6 percent) or “good” (37.1 percent), compared to only 45.4 percent of respondents earning less than $50,000 annually. And 30 percent of residents earning between $100,000 and $150,000 per year reported their quality of life in Connecticut as “declining.” Age also was a factor: 46.9 percent of respondents ages 18-34 reported their quality of life as either “fair” (32.6 percent) or “poor” (14.3 percent) when compared to only 29.5 percent of respondents age 65 or older.
Expressing longer-term concern, more than half of residents surveyed (58.4 percent) reported it is “very difficult” (19.3 percent) or “somewhat difficult” (39.1 percent) to maintain their standard of living. The top-reported reasons for these challenges included “tax increase - state” (61.1 percent); “price increase – general goods” (50.9 percent); and 50 percent said “increase/high taxes overall.” The perception among a majority of residents that Connecticut is a difficult state to maintain their standard of living is not surprising given the recent sales tax increases that went into effect on October 1 for a host of consumer items. The other items most often cited as expense-related factors include electrical/gas/oil (44 percent), health insurance premiums and co-pays (27.2 percent) and low-paying jobs (27.2 percent).
Regarding Governor Lamont’s performance to date, more than two-fifths of Connecticut residents surveyed (46.9 percent) reported they “disapprove” of the way Lamont is handling his job as governor, which is up nearly seven points since May. The disapproval rating among Republicans is highest at 74.2 percent (with 15.5 percent unsure), followed by 53.1 percent disapproval among unaffiliated residents (29.8 percent unsure) and 26.5 percent disapproval among Democrats (33.4 percent unsure).
When asked about specific areas of positive performance, the highest percentage of respondents reported they “approve” of the way Lamont handles “public primary education” (27.8 percent), while the lowest number reported they “approve” of the way he is handling “taxes” (16 percent). Additionally, 24.8 percent reported they “approve” of the way Lamont is handling “health care,” and 23.1 percent reported they “approve” of the way Lamont is handling “tolls.”
Over two-thirds (72.5 percent) of Connecticut residents surveyed reported to “strongly” (56.4 percent) or “somewhat” (16.1 percent) support the ban on flavored e-cigarettes. Less than one-fifth of respondents (18.7 percent) “somewhat” (9.4 percent) or “strongly” (9.3 percent) opposed the ban, and another 8.8 percent were “unsure.” For younger respondents, 60.5 percent of residents surveyed ages 18-34 “strongly” (40.7 percent) or “somewhat” (19.8 percent) supported the ban on flavored e-cigarettes, and the numbers for residents whether Democrats, Republicans or unaffiliated were all above 70 percent in support of a ban.
In response to a question regarding immigration issues facing the state, a higher rate of residents surveyed said they did not believe illegal immigration is a serious problem in the State of Connecticut (47.6 percent) when compared to those who do believe it is a serious problem (37.3 percent). However, the majority of respondents (61 percent) thought local law enforcement in Connecticut should assist federal authorities with deportation of illegal immigrants who were convicted of crimes.
The responses along party lines showed 65.2 percent of Republicans believe illegal immigration is a serious problem in the State of Connecticut, compared to only 39.3 percent of unaffiliated and 19.4 percent of Democrats. And 56.2 percent of respondents ages 18-34 reported they did not think illegal immigration is a serious problem in Connecticut.
“Quality-of-life issues continue to play a central role in residents’ responses to our latest Connecticut poll, with concern over the high cost of taxes, general goods, energy and health insurance,” said Lesley DeNardis, executive director of the Institute for Public Policy and director of Sacred Heart University’s master of public administration (MPA) program.
“The honeymoon for Governor Lamont was short lived, and residents are watching his performance closely. As one might expect, attitudes vary significantly by party affiliation, income and age. Key considerations for residents in gauging the Governor’s performance were kitchen table issues such as the cost of consumer goods and the recent sales tax increases affecting their pocketbooks. Concerns over the availability of jobs, insurance costs and the ongoing impasse over tolls rounded out their list of top issues,” she added.
GreatBlue Research conducted the 34-question Connecticut-specific scientific survey on behalf of the SHU Institute for Public Policy, interviewing 1,000 residents either by phone or electronically. Statistically, this sampling represents a margin for error of +/-3.02 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.
Sacred Heart’s Institute for Public Policy, which was established in 2017 in the College of Arts and Sciences, is aligned with the University’s MPA program. In addition to hosting state-wide polls, the institute conducts public policy research, hosts public forums and workshops and serves as a public-policy learning incubator for students.
A PDF file of complete polling results is available at www.sacredheart.edu/pollresults.
About Sacred Heart University
As the second-largest independent Catholic university in New England, and one of the fastest-growing in the U.S., Sacred Heart University is a national leader in shaping higher education for the 21st century. SHU offers more than 80 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs on its Fairfield, Conn., campus. Sacred Heart also has satellites in Connecticut, Luxembourg and Ireland and offers online programs. More than 9,000 students attend the University’s eight colleges and schools: Arts & Sciences; Communication, Media & the Arts; Computer Science & Engineering; Health Professions; the Isabelle Farrington College of Education; the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology; Nursing; and St. Vincent’s College. Sacred Heart stands out from other Catholic institutions as it was established and led by laity. The contemporary Catholic university is rooted in the rich Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts, and at the same time cultivates students to be forward thinkers who enact change—in their own lives, professions and in their communities. The Princeton Review includes SHU in its Best 384 Colleges–2019 Edition, “Best in the Northeast” and Best 267 Business Schools–2018 Edition. Sacred Heart has a Division I athletics program and an impressive performing arts program that includes choir, band, dance and theater. www.sacredheart.edu