NEW YORK Connecticut's Democratic governor Dannel Malloy and the Republican he narrowly defeated four years ago are in a dead heat ahead of the November vote, according to a hypothetical match-up released by the Quinnipiac University Poll on Tuesday.
Republican Tom Foley, a businessman and former ambassador who lost to Malloy by a razer-thin margin in 2010, pulls even with Malloy, a first-term Democrat, with each candidate winning 42 percent of the vote, the poll found.
Foley, who founded a private equity firm and served as ambassador to Ireland under President George W. Bush, is dominating the crowded Republican field five months before the August 12 primary, with 36 percent support among Republicans.
His nearest competitor, the mayor of Danbury, Mark Boughton, has 11 percent.
Voters are evenly split over whether Malloy deserves re-election in November, while just under half give him a positive approval rating.
"Haven't we seen this movie before? A potential rematch of Gov. Dannel Malloy vs Tom Foley couldn't get any closer," said Quinnipiac's Douglas Schwartz. "For Malloy, perhaps the biggest worry is that he's never been able to get over 50 percent in job approval - a danger sign for any incumbent."
Women are more likely to back Malloy by a margin of 45 to 37 percent, while men favor Foley 48 to 39 percent, the poll found.
Voters say Malloy has strong leadership skills and they find him trustworthy and honest. But his popularity has suffered over the state's slow recovery from the recession.
While both candidates are heavily favored by members of their own party in this Democrat-leaning state, Foley boasts a 45 to 33 percent lead among independent voters, the poll found.
Malloy is not the only Democrat struggling in Connecticut. The poll found that just over half of Connecticut voters have a negative view of President Barack Obama, who easily won re-election in the state in 2012, giving the president his lowest score ever in the state.
The telephone survey of 1,878 registered voters was conducted from February 26 to March 2 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points. The survey included 477 Republicans, and that subset had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
(Reporting by Edith Honan; Editing by Grant McCool)