Democratic gubernatorial contender Ned Lamont has a slim lead over Republican Bob Stefanowski according to a new poll from Sacred Heart University’s Institute for Public Policy, commissioned in conjunction with Hearst Connecticut Media.

The poll, released two weeks before the Nov. 6 election, shows Lamont leading the gubernatorial race by a 3.4% margin. At the same time, unaffiliated respondents are preferring Stefanowski over Lamont 43.2% to 24%. Independent candidate Oz Griebel is the preferred candidate by 8.4% of likely voters, with an additional 13.7% of unaffiliated respondents leaning his way.

“Likely voters” responding to the telephone survey conducted between Oct. 13 and Oct. 17 also are favoring Democratic candidates running for the House of Representative seats.

On the national front, one-third of those polled in Connecticut approve of the job President Trump is doing, and almost three quarters said they disapprove of the nominating and approval process conducted in the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The poll, conducted by telephone, asked 23 questions of 501 state residents who are likely voters. Respondents also commented on the issues that will help guide their decisions in November such as taxes, the state budget and adding tolls on Connecticut’s highways.

Specifics show 39.5% of Connecticut voters currently support Lamont for governor compared to 36.1% who support Stefanowski. Both candidates have strong support within their own parties as 79% of Republicans support Stefanowski and 71.1% of Democrats support Lamont.

Lamont is leading among female voters with 50% supporting him, compared to 25.2% of female voters who support the Republican. However, 47% of likely male voters support Stefanowski, compared to 29.1% of male voters who support Lamont.

Regarding the Congressional races, also being held in November, 48.7% of Connecticut “likely voters” in October 2018 suggest they will support the Democratic candidate in their district compared to 34.1% who will support the Republican candidate. The 14.6-point margin is up slightly from the 13-point margin posted in September 2018.

Of these respondents, 59.2% of female voters support the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, which is up from 50.9% in September 2018. Male voters, however, favor the Republican candidate by a 44.2% to 38.2% margin. While unaffiliated voters in October 2018 are more likely to support the Republican candidate for governor, unaffiliated voters currently are split on the candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives in their district (36.3% to 36.3%).

Though slightly less so than in September, the state’s “high overall tax burden” (22.0% in October 2018 down from 23.2% in September 2018) or “budget crisis” (17.6% in October 2018 down from 22.8% from September 2018) continue to be key concerns. Another 10.6% reported the “high overall cost of living” or “low economic growth” in the state would be the deciding factor for them.

In addition, leading up to the election to choose his successor, almost three-quarters (73.7%) of Connecticut voters “disapprove” of the job Gov. Dannel Malloy is doing as governor. In other key findings, more than one-half of Connecticut voters (52.1%) reported they “strongly” or “somewhat” agree with creating electronic tolls on state highways to help pay for highway improvements to relieve congestion. Also, three-fifths of Connecticut voters (64.9%) reported they “strongly” (47.1%) or “somewhat” (17.8%) agree with a question regarding the fairness of raising taxes on people with incomes in excess of $1 million if the state cannot solve its budget crisis by cutting state services and spending.

Nationally, slightly more than one-third of Connecticut voters (35.1%) approve of how President Trump is handling his job, and 50% of unaffiliated voters disapprove of his performance.

When asked if they approved or disapproved of the U.S. Senate’s Judiciary Committee handling of the nomination process of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, 72.4% of Connecticut “likely voters” disapprove of the handling, based on the October 2018 poll.

“Interestingly, 54.8% of Republicans disapprove of the handling of the confirmation process, and 80% of female voters disapprove as well,” according to a press release from Sacred Heart.

“As this gubernatorial race tightens in the final weeks, the numbers in October indicate many likely voters are closing in on their decisions for the November election, but the jury is still out,” said Lesley DeNardis, executive director of the Institute for Public Policy and director of Sacred Heart University’s master of public administration program. Stefanowski, the Republican candidate, continues making inroads among unaffiliated voters, but with two weeks to go, significant numbers of voters are undecided (14.8%). Greater outreach and clear messages are vital during this last stage of the race to help voters make up their minds. And with the large percentage of female voters leaning to the Democrats – compounded by the high number of likely voters who are still angry over the Kavanaugh appointment process – this race is going to remain neck and neck to the finish line.”

GreatBlue Research Inc., conducted the Connecticut-specific scientific telephone survey on behalf of the SHU Institute for Public Policy.