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Connecticut Governor’s Race Is Now The Most Negative In The Country

by | Oct 16, 2014 5:29am () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Election 2014

The contest between Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Republican Tom Foley has generated a higher percentage of purely negative advertisements than any governor’s race in the country, according to a study by the Wesleyan Media Project.

The study, which was released Tuesday, found that 79.5 percent of the ads in Connecticut’s gubernatorial race were negative. Florida’s race followed closely with 79.2 percent of the ads being negative in message. Wisconsin had the third highest percentage of negative ads with 77.1 percent.

In a phone interview, Ronald Schurin, a political science professor at the University of Connecticut, said the prevalence of negative ads is likely a result of the close nature of the gubernatorial race. A Quinnipiac University poll released last week found Malloy and Foley deadlocked at 43 percent.

“The conventional wisdom is that when you’re way ahead you don’t have to run negative ads,” he said. “When you’re in a close race or when your negatives outweigh your positives, then you run negative ads.”

Schurin said there is evidence that negative advertisements effectively turn off independent voters, leaving both parties with their traditional voting bases. In a blue state like Connecticut, that benefits Democrats. However, Foley’s campaign likely believes it can capitalize on Malloy’s high unfavorability rating, he said.

Foley’s most recent ad, released Monday, does not mention Malloy by name, but asserts that the economy is suffering. The ad features Foley’s family as his wife, Leslie Fahrenkopf Foley, talks about Connecticut families feeling “squeezed” by rising costs. Foley then says he has a pro-growth plan to get “pride and prosperity” to come “roaring back.”

However, Foley’s previous ad, released last week, accused Malloy of habitually lying. The ad depicted Malloy with a Pinocchio-style growing nose.

Meanwhile, Malloy’s most recent ad, called “Yacht,” tries to paint Foley as an out-of-touch millionaire.

“The world must look different from a $5 million yacht,” a narrator says in the ad.

Schurin said the campaigns are likely to continue airing negative TV spots right up until Election Day.

“I think we’ll see more of it and it will come not just from campaigns themselves. It will come from the so-called independent groups,” Schurin said.

There has already been a steady stream of ads funded by Super PACs. Connecticut Forward, a group funded by the Democratic Governors Association and labor groups, released a new ad on Tuesday attacking Foley’s character and relationship with working people.

“He’s like the guy who leaves a $1 tip on a $20 check. Because in Tom Foley’s eyes, the less you give workers, the better,” a narrator says. 

Meanwhile, an ad released this week by Grow Connecticut, a group bankrolled by the Republican Governors Association, stressed the $1.8 billion tax increased passed by Malloy during his first term in office in an effort to close a $3.6 billion budget deficit.

“The middle class. That’s who got hurt the most,” a woman, identified only as Sonya from Windsor, says.

Following the release of a Quinnipiac University poll last week, poll Director Douglas Schwartz said the barrage of negativity may be working in Malloy’s favor and against Foley. The poll suggested voters were evenly split on the two candidates, meaning Malloy had eliminated a six-point lead held by Foley just a month earlier. Schwartz suggested that may be attributable to Malloy’s aggressive tactics in recent televised debates.

“We haven’t seen much of a change in how people feel about Malloy. So while the race has gotten better for Malloy, it’s not because people like him more, it’s because they like Foley less,” he said.

The Wesleyan report covered ads from Sept. 29 through Oct. 9 and found a total of 2,398 ads in Connecticut’s gubernatorial race. Of those, 1,483 were pro-Democratic at a cost of $1.8 million and 915 were pro-Republican at a cost of $840,000.

Nationwide, the study found that 50.8 percent of gubernatorial ads have been negative this election cycle, while 32 percent were positive and 16.8 percent were considered “contrast” ads. That’s a higher percentage of negative ads than in 2010, when 39.2 percent of the ads were considered negative.

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(19) Archived Comments

posted by: RogueReporterCT | October 16, 2014  6:25am


Most negative in the country? No it isn’t

posted by: Commuter | October 16, 2014  7:01am

It’s pretty clear that the more people learn about the real Tom Foley, the less they like him. He has no idea whatsoever what is even going on, and his “ideas” are plagiarized.

And those ideas have failed again and again. Just look at Brownback in Kansas. Foley’s policies are like a carbon copy of Brownback’s. Brownback has quickly created a 9.2% budget deficit, dramatically worsening Kansas’ fiscal picture. That is exactly what Tom Foley would do. And the mythical improvements in the economy that his giveaways were supposed to produce? Nowhere to be found.

Or Chris Christie in New Jersey. Nine downgrades by the bond rating agencies. Single handedly defunding New Jersey’s pension funds. Cutting support and pushing costs onto municipalities, driving local taxes higher. Also, Bridgegate. Foley idolizes Christie. It’s pathetic.

Foley has used violence and the threat of it to get what he wants. He put an armed paramilitary force with attack dogs into a factory in Chambersburg, PA to drive workers out of their jobs and break the union, and walked away with $40 million.

He attacked a group of people in an automobile, ramming it five times at speeds of up to 50 mph over something personal. It’s a pattern of behavior that runs throughout his personal and professional life.

And all along, he has told a seemingly plausible story about his life, but it has been proven to be one seamless lie after another. And, of course, he has lied incessantly about Malloy’s record as governor.

No wonder the race is negative.

posted by: dano860 | October 16, 2014  8:55am

It’s Dannel’s to lose!
The un-affiliated voter will be the decider in this one…if we can get them to the polls.
“Take ten”, call and invite/ remind or bring 10 friends, family and acquaintances to vote.

posted by: Breeze | October 16, 2014  9:00am

The campaigns operate on the reasonable assumption that swing voters may be motivated more by what they fear than what they tolerate.  But for the rest of us who already know what toppings we prefer on our pizza, it’s less about the candidates and more about the parties. Republicans are anti-union, anti-public school and in favor of less/lower taxes, regulation, and waste.  Their anathema to government intervention/regulation is so acute, it hard to imagine them doing anything (except lowering taxes) in the wake of the recession.  Go after the purveyors of toxic loans? No. Beef up SEC or banking regulations? No. The party has become so extreme that nothing, not even national security, would compel them to vote for a tax increase – not even to pay for a 10 year war.  I’m voting against them.

posted by: Joebigjoe | October 16, 2014  9:57am

I get so tired of these think tanks, projects, and pundits that complain about negative advertising.

The focus should be on truthful advertising. This focus on negativity is a cop out.

I could care less what someone promises if they haven’t kept their promises before.

“Ohhh I don’t like the negativity. I want to know what the candidate is going to do for me…”

Oh give me break! People expect the truth from people they deal with in their personal and work lives, so why do they give a free pass to politicians?

posted by: art vandelay | October 16, 2014  10:43am

art vandelay

@ Breeze.
I’m a PROUD CONSERVATIVE.  I’m 100% anti-union,  abolishment of the 16th Amendment, lower sales taxes, government spending and excess regulations like our state emissions law.  What’s wrong with that I ask?  A government is best when it governs least.  If all you have to criticize Foley about is a traffic accident, you better start looking at what Malloy has done to this state in the past four years.  We are now 49th in job growth.  Our budget is now balanced by numbers pulled out of a hat by Mr. Barnes.  One day we have a surplus and the next a deficit depending on how the wind blows.  Malloy has to bribe companies to remain in this state while bribing others to come.  Malloy bowed to the union demands while initiating the largest tax increase since the income tax.  Face facts Malloy has destroyed this state economically.  Granted the Republicans do not have the best candidate out there but I’ll take my chances with him over Malloy anyway of the week.

posted by: Greg | October 16, 2014  11:38am

@ Breeze- We’ve had the Obama administration for how many years now and the regulatory apparatus that runs through the Executive Branch has done nothing for the problems you attribute to the republican party.

DOJ/Holder going after financial fraud?  Nope. Not even once.  Petty insider trading indictments don’t count.

SEC actually bringing down the regulatory hammer on banks?  Kind of, with billion dollar settlements here adn there with very few admissions of guilt.  Financial penalties are built into, reserved for,  and expected in quarterly earnings releases these days.

The NY Federal Reserve in bed with Goldman Sachs as a regulator, with an Obama appointee running the Fed?  Yea…about that.

Sorry to burst your partisan bubble, but Obama is GW Bush 2.0 when it comes to its treatment of the TBTF financial players and their nonsense. 

If you feel there is sufficient evidence the democrats have taken on the big banks beyond some blustering claptrap press releases and public statements feel free to prove me wrong.

posted by: One and Done | October 16, 2014  2:17pm

Fire Malloy and then in 4 years if Foley doesn’t do the job fire him.

I’d rather have a wet noodle in the office than the con artist we have now.

posted by: GBear423 | October 16, 2014  3:20pm


If your looking for truthful advertisements, well its in the eye of the beholder.  The dems painted Foley as an evil corporate greed head that is so out of control he forces people to go on strike and lose their homes and freeze in winter and they have to walk everywhere cause the repo guy took their car and the assistance checks were late and it is all Foley’s fault cause he is evil business guy…

and its like this cause Malloy has no positives to run on, his economic achievement is based on taking out a loan and because he didn’t blow it all in the first year, we call what’s left a surplus. 

How the He11 can you ask for truth when that is how the Governor of Connecticut proceeds to measure his success?  and you have grown educated people all nodding their heads and defending him because the man has a (D) next to his name.

Sure Foley was a bottom line business man, and that is what Connecticut needs.  Why do we want someone that gives away money in charge of our tax dollars?

posted by: Breeze | October 16, 2014  3:52pm

@ Greg – Not sure if your “TBTF” comment indicates you would have preferred banks to collapse. Personally I’m glad the grown-ups prevailed on that one.  As far as your inference (I think it was at least) that Dodd-Frank isn’t up to par with Glass-Steagall, you’ll get no argument from me.  The current Democratic party isn’t the most intrepid group to have ever walked the halls of Congress.

posted by: JamesBronsdon | October 16, 2014  3:56pm

Agreed, One and Done, but depressing nevertheless.
Breeze, I take it your thesis is more taxes, better government. The refutation of that is right in front of us on a daily basis. More taxes, more incompetents like the CDC Director and the former Secret Service Director and the former Veterans Affairs Director and the former HHS Secretary and so on and so forth. More taxes, more venal personnel like the Department of Justice Secretary, and the IRS Commissioner, and Lois Lerner and so on and so forth. Conservatives are not opposed to taxes for their own sake. It’s the waste, the fraud, the misappropriation of our liberties, the wrecking of our economic markets, and so on and so forth.

posted by: Greg | October 16, 2014  5:08pm

Breeze- We can debate TARP and all of the alphabet-soup-capital-letter-acronym bailouts until the cows come home, which was not my intent although i would have preferred the TBTF banks no longer be TB, but that’s not my point.

My point is, yet again, Obama and his administration have done nothing to change the financial system, proscecute or otherwise hold individuals accountable, end TBTF, or any initiate any other structural reform. 

Blame Bush and the GOP all you want, but your own messiah hope-and-change president (D) has done nothing to address or otherwise—in your own words—“Go after the purveyors of toxic loans? No. Beef up SEC or banking regulations?”

Same goes for Malloy.  He owns his record.

posted by: Breeze | October 16, 2014  5:13pm

@ JB - Same old republican whining: taxes, government incompetence and the obligatory waste and fraud. Takes real tongue in cheek to maintain that Republicans aren’t opposed to taxes for the sake of opposing taxes. Remember George HW? He was level-headed enough to raise taxes to pay for the S&L debacle. We know how that story ended.  Those opposed, I guess, preferred higher deficits or -wait! - elimination of waste and fraud. There have been other examples of Republican presidents with common sense and guts. TR of course, and even Nixon signed the EPA into law. But the GOP motus operandi is to claim that all government is bad. It comes across as sour grapes and un-American.  I mean, if the country can’t agree to raise taxes for 10-years of war, then it gives a whole new meaning to the 99-percenters. But I’ll bet you copmensate by sticking a yellow ribbon on your car.

posted by: Commuter | October 16, 2014  8:36pm

Malloy speaks constantly of his many accomplishments and of the investments that have clear, quantifiable benefits in the near term, and strategically important implications in the long term. And the private sector agrees.

Jackson Labs is already attracting start-ups and research funding that would be going elsewhere otherwise.

Four years ago, the CFO of UTC was saying ‘anyplace but Connecticut’ - today, the CEO of UTC is committing decades of investment - billions of dollars - to Connecticut, and the small manufacturers that will directly benefit are cheering.

There is no are of opportunity that Malloy hasn’t gotten something accomplished, but especially the big things - the deficit is closed, and we are building our reserves paying our debts; we’re investing in education and seeing results; the state’s relationship with the business community is one of partnership; we’re making long overdue investments in transportation and energy infrastructure; government is getting smaller and working smarter.

He talks about it all the time. Foley on the other hand - nothing.

posted by: Breeze | October 16, 2014  10:55pm

@ Greg - You can howl at the moon all night about how the democrats didn’t do anything post-recession to address banks and loans.  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the liquidation authority created via Dodd-Frank goes far beyond anything republicans could have engineered. But please, continue the tirade. Didn’t mean to interrupt. One more rant and I think we’ll see a pattern.

posted by: art vandelay | October 17, 2014  5:08am

art vandelay

After watching parts of the debate last night Visconti is looking pretty darn good.  He’s the only candidate who faced issues heads on while the other two danced around the ring.

posted by: One and Done | October 17, 2014  7:46am

@Commuter.  The picking favorites approach is a failure.  You forgot to mention that Jackson Labs 200 jobs and UTC’s bribe to stay cost us several hundred million dollars that we didn’t have.  Then there are the side affects of angering businesses you don’t give the bribes to.  Look no further than Aetna who is leaving CT as fast as they can because of the favors Malloy did for Cigna. 

Cuomo got it right in NY.  Across the board and fair.  Malloy’s picking and choosing is a loser and why he will be too come election day.

posted by: Commuter | October 17, 2014  11:18am

@oneanddone No, in fact aetna is not leaving the state as fast as it can, nor is it in any sense a problem for Aetna to have Cigna here and growing. It’s just the opposite.

You obviously have zero information about the insurance industry in Connecticut and no understanding of how states are competing for large industry leaders, and strengthening key industry clusters. Your example of what New York is doing isn’t even accurate, there too, it is just the opposite.

New York, and every other state in the country, does their version of what Malloy is doing. It’s pretty simple. Compete or continue to die, as we had been for the four prior administrations. And the best way to compete is to focus on where you are already strong, and build on that strength while addressing strategic weaknesses.

That is exactly what Malloy is doing. And it is working.

posted by: Breeze | October 17, 2014  7:57pm

@ Commuter - Perfectly stated. One and Done is one of those individuals with access to a wellspring of misinformation.

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