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Is Dan Roberti Leading In The 5th?

by | Aug 7, 2012 1:17pm () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Election 2012

Officials at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee say they do not comment on internal polling data, but sources say the national campaign arm of House Democrats has polled voters in Connecticut’s 5th District — and Dan Roberti is in the lead.

Roberti, 30, of Kent, will face former state Rep. Elizabeth Esty and House Speaker Chris Donovan next week in the Democratic primary. Donovan, the party endorsed candidate, was once considered the frontrunner. But his campaign was turned on its head by an ongoing federal investigation that has seen the arrest of two of his top campaign staffers and six other state residents.

Josh Nassi, Donovan’s former campaign manager, and Robert Braddock, his former finance director, have both been charged with conspiring to hide the source of nearly $30,000 in campaign donations. The federal indictment alleges that roll-your-own tobacco shop owners used straw donors to make campaign donations while Donovan was serving as Speaker of the House in order to defeat legislation detrimental to their business interests.

Donovan has repeatedly said he had no knowledge of the scheme. But news coverage of the investigation and attack ads aired by the other two candidates apparently have taken a toll on the candidate. Sources with knowledge of the poll say Roberti has taken the lead.

Roberti had been one of the most outspoken critics of Donovan’s. He’s repeatedly called upon the speaker to drop out of the race because of the investigation. But rhetoric from the Esty and Roberti campaigns shifted recently, going from attacking Donovan in TV spots and press releases to criticizing one another instead.

Toward the end of a largely tame debate Saturday, Esty found an opportunity to jab Roberti for being, until recently, co-owner of his father’s Washington lobby firm. She’s also aired commercials calling Roberti a co-owner of the lobbying firm and alleging that special interests connected to his father, Vin Roberti, have bankrolled his campaign.

On Tuesday Roberti aired his own ad, in which he looks at the camera and says, “I’ve never been a lobbyist and Elizabeth knows it.”

“Elizabeth Esty’s attack ad and her collecting money from polluters her husband regulates is everything that’s wrong with politics,” Roberti says, referring to Esty’s husband, Dan Esty, who heads up the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Little is known about the DCCC poll, other than that it puts Roberti ahead of Esty and Donovan. Stephen Carter, a regional spokesman for the committee, would not comment on its existence.

But a Roberti win next week would be something of an upset in Connecticut, where he was virtually unknown until recently. Roberti has never held an elected office.

Roberti does have some well-connected friends, however. James “the Ragin’ Cajun” Carville, a well known Democratic political strategist who helped elect former President Bill Clinton, sent out a fundraising letter for Roberti when he entered the race last April.

Roberti’s also worked with acclaimed documentary filmmaker Ken Burns on a national parks project. And last week, Martin Luther King III offered support for Roberti.

“I have to say that when we look at the kind of people that we want to represent us, certainly Dan Roberti is one of those kind of people that we need in Congress,” the Register Citizen reported King saying.

Both the Esty and Roberti campaigns have been tight-lipped about their own internal polling data and neither side wanted to comment on the DCCC poll. The race is believed to be very close with just seven days until the primary.

And primary polling can be notoriously unreliable. Roy Occhiogrosso, a longtime Democratic operative and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s senior communication adviser, said that’s because pollsters are attempting to get a sample of such a small group of people.

“It’s very difficult for public polling groups to capture a representative sample of the universe of people that will actually come out and vote on primary day because the universe is so small,” he said.

Occhiogrosso said that in the week leading up to the 2010 primary in which Malloy defeated primary challenger Ned Lamont, not a single poll showed Malloy ahead. But he went on to win by 16 points.

Though he said trying to predict the result of an election on public polling is an “iffy proposition,” Occhiogrosso said they are useful tools gaging trends and momentum in candidates.

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(8) Archived Comments

posted by: Archie Bunker1 | August 7, 2012  2:03pm

There once was a candidate named Chris;
Who Roberti and Esty would diss;
The union thugs came a callin’...$30,000 they were haulin’;
And now Chris sits alone in the abyss.

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | August 7, 2012  2:26pm

Interesting. You would think Esty would have a healthy lead over Roberti. But hey, who knows, maybe change in the 5th means no experience and big $$. I thought it would mean honest and sincere candidate. I’ve been wrong before.


posted by: AndersonScooper | August 7, 2012  3:54pm

Sources Say? Is that responsible reporting?

Who was the source? A family friend of the Roberti’s, one named James Carville?

What is telling is that we aren’t even given the name of the pollster. Nor does your article point out the fact that Dan’s father, Vin Roberti is a huge player behind-the-scenes in DC.

If anything, what we’ve seen this week is a Roberti candidacy that headed from credible to laughable, and that’s the real trend. Please consider adding a disclaimer to this story. Thanks.

posted by: MGKW | August 7, 2012  4:16pm

Just goes to show that stupidity is not limited to the Rethugicans and the Tea Party…if the party nominates this fool then we will lose the seat and and not be able to take it back for years. Dan Roberti’s debate style and naivete is obvious and he will be chewed up and spit out in DC. His tactics are his father’s tactics…lie, attack and do what ever you have to do to get elected.

posted by: AndersonScooper | August 7, 2012  5:03pm

Someone also needs to point out that the Roberti family has given the DCCC several hundred thousand dollars over the past decade. So this current spin could well be pure reciprocation.

Does this poll even exist?

posted by: Tessa Marquis | August 7, 2012  5:26pm

Roberti: One year helping to run a homeless shelter, one year doing something rather vague in New Orleans, and currently employed as a “PR executive” for a firm that does “governmental affairs” aka Lobbying and doesn’t list him on their website.

Esty: Alas. Says the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong person: Me. More than once.

Vote Donovan.

posted by: Commuter | August 7, 2012  7:17pm

Polling in the primary means nothing. But the fact that both Roberti and Esty are throwing every nickel they have and then some tells you what both campaigns think - they can win. And the fact that they’ve started attacking each other tells you that they both think Donovan is cooked. Esty is the stronger general election candidate. Maybe this comes down to whether Emily’s list can put together a better field operation the Roberti, LLC.

posted by: Not that Michael Brown | August 8, 2012  9:20am

I took a public policy poll of the voices in my head while in the shower this morning.  Of the 1,100 personalities polled, 60% are going to vote for Donovan, 8% for Esty, 5% for Roberti. The rest are undecided (I’m not even sure if they knew about the primary.)

The accuracy of my poll is plus or minus 3%, meaning there is a 95% confidence level (plus or minus two standard deviations on either side of the mean) that Donovan will get between 57 and 63% of the vote. This means Donovan wins.

Note: All the personalities polled enjoy having clean hair.

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