HAMDEN, Conn. – Democrat Ned Lamont continues to struggle to find support among Republican and unaffiliated voters in his attempt to defeat three-term incumbent Sen. Joe Lieberman in November's election, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.
Lieberman maintains a 10-point advantage among likely voters in the poll, leading Lamont 49 percent to 39 percent in a three-way race. Republican Alan Schlesinger trails with 5 percent.
The race has tightened slightly since an Aug. 17 poll that showed Lieberman leading 53 percent to 41 percent.
"Ned Lamont has lost momentum. He's gained only two points in six weeks," poll director Douglas Schwartz said. "He's going to have to do something different in the next six weeks or Sen. Joseph Lieberman stays in for another six years."
The race is seen as many as a referendum on President Bush's handling of the Iraq war. Lamont, a political newcomer and multimillionaire, ran on an anti-war platform to upset Lieberman in the Aug. 8 primary. Lieberman, the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2000, is a staunch supporter of the war. He's now running an independent campaign under a party he created.
"This campaign has never been driven by polls," Lamont spokeswoman Liz Dupont-Diehl said Thursday. "As the voters focus on this race and as our thousands of volunteers reach out to their families, friends and neighbors, we are confident the voters of Connecticut will choose the change that Ned Lamont represents on November 7."
The Quinnipiac poll showed that Lieberman has higher favorability ratings among likely voters, 51 percent to Lamont's 31 percent. While Lamont has slightly higher favorability numbers among Democrats (47 percent to 43 percent), Lieberman far outdistances his challenger among likely Republican and unaffiliated voters. Seventy percent of Republicans view Lieberman favorably compared to 12 percent for Lamont, and 48 percent of independent voters view Lieberman favorably compared to 30 percent for Lamont.
Unaffiliated voters outnumber Democrats and Republicans in the state.
"Lamont wins among those who say Iraq is the most important issue to their vote, but that is only 35 percent of the electorate," Schwartz said. "Lieberman wins on all the other issues voters say matter most to them, including terrorism and the economy."
Schlesinger, meanwhile, remains an unknown for many voters. Only 3 percent of respondents said they had a favorable view of him and 70 percent say they don't know enough to form an opinion. Schlesinger, who has been shunned by the White House and publicly urged by Gov. M. Jodi Rell to drop out of the race, said he hopes to use two scheduled debates to gain support.
The telephone poll was conducted between Sept. 21-25. Quinnipiac surveyed 1,181 likely voters and the poll has a sampling error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points.