Delaware voters on state races: “Yawn”

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The majority of registered voters in Delaware are not paying close attention to this November’s state elections, according to a Fairleigh Dickinson University study.


Barely a third of registered voters are following the upcoming elections. That’s according to a survey sponsored by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind and the News Journal. Only 33 percent of people are following the race for the vacant House of Representatives seat and just 36 percent of voters are following the race for the governor’s office.

As for the Democratic primary for the state’s House seat, 52 percent of those registered reported to be undecided among the candidates. Bryan Townsend and Lisa Blunt Rochester are tied among registered Democrats with 11 percent a piece. Mike Miller (9 percent), Scott Walker (6 percent), and Sean Barney (4 percent) comprise the other Democrats in the primary race.

On the other side, 55 percent of registered Republican voters have not decided whom to support, despite the fact that Hans Reigle is the only GOP candidate. Reigle has 26 percent support among those polled with 14 percent of voters saying that they support “someone else.”

Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind and professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University said, “The uncertainty of whom to support, coupled with the minimal interest in the House race, means things remain wide open as we head into the fall.” She went on to say, “All of the candidates have a great opportunity to define themselves to voters, assuming they can first get their attention”

In the race for the vacant governor seat, 67 percent of registered Democratic voters say that they support outgoing U.S Congressman John Carney, but even then, 23 percent of those polled are still uncertain about who they support. On the Republican side, there is more of a divide with State Senator Colin Bonini attracting 29 percent of support and retired State Police Officer Lacey Lafferty at 22 percent, not too far behind.

“As with the House seat, Republicans will face an uphill battle at the gubernatorial level given the state’s preponderance of self-identified Democrats. But there’s still a lot of room for both Bonini and Lafferty to connect with their base and define themselves in opposition to Carney,” Jenkins said.

The mood of the state’s constituency toward elected leaders and institutions appears to be more positive than negative. 59 percent of people polled approve of the job that Governor Jack Markell is doing. Only percent percent of voters approve of the General Assembly’s performance, even though it too is mainly comprised of Democrats.

“Although support for both Markell and the legislature is not overwhelming, even their natural opponents – Republicans – are more divided than united in their opinions of both institutions,” Jenkins said.

When polled about the greatest challenges facing the state, 35 percent of people expressed concern over crime, and 28 percent of those polled expressed concern over the state of the economy.

“Crime and the economy are basic security issues. It’s hard to feel secure if you think the economy is floundering and your safety isn’t secure. Still, the fact that no single issue stands out among a majority of voters suggests policymakers have their work cut out for them in addressing the variety of problems of concern to their constituents,” Jenkins said.

The survey was conducted jointly by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind and the Delaware News Journal. 715 self-identified registered voters in Delaware were randomly called and polled. The methodology of the survey indicated a 95 percent confidence that the margin of error attributable to sampling has a range of +/- of 4.1 percent.

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