Vote 2022: New poll shows dead heat in closely watched congressional race

Connecticut hasn't elected a Republican to Congress since 2006, but a new poll gives one GOP candidate a one-point lead in a race attracting lots of national attention – and money.
In the 5th Congressional District, Republican George Logan enjoys a slight 48-47% advantage over Democratic Rep. Jahana Hayes in the contest’s first public poll. Emerson College surveyed 500 likely voters between Oct. 19-21 for WTNH News 8 and The Hill.
The results are a virtual dead heat, with 4% of voters still undecided and a 4.3% margin of error. But in a hopeful sign for Republicans, Logan enjoys a 15-point advantage with independent voters.
"I will be their voice, whether they're a Democrat, whether they're a Republican, whether they're an independent, or all those unaffiliated voters,” Logan said Thursday. "Our message – focusing on affordability, community safety and education and the opioid epidemic – I think all those things just resonate with the voters in the district."
In a deeply divided political climate, Logan is pitching himself as a pro-choice moderate willing to work across the aisle – a stark contrast to many conservatives in Congress. Hayes paints him as an extremist who will vote to restrict abortion access.
Democrats are taking the threat seriously. Earlier this month, Vice President Kamala Harris joined Hayes at Central Connecticut State University. Both argued that abortion rights are on the ballot this fall.
"I have an 81 year-old mother-in-law – Doug's mother. Ella, our daughter, will have fewer rights than my mother-in-law,” Harris told supporters. "This is not a political event, but it is a fact that in 34 days there is a midterm coming up.”
The 5th Congressional District is considered the state’s most competitive, but a Republican hasn’t won there since 2006. The sprawling district includes Democratic-leaning cities like Waterbury and Danbury, but also dozens of “swing” towns across northwestern Connecticut. Hayes cruised to an easy win two years ago against former federal prosecutor David X. Sullivan.
In a statement Thursday, Hayes' campaign manager Barbara Ellis said: "This poll doesn't change our strategy of working hard to get out our message and turn out voters … This poll seems to reflect that national trends and the millions of GOP PAC spending against Rep. Hayes are penetrating."
Hayes has heavily outraised Logan, but more than $7 million in outside money has flooded into the race. Democrats have attempted to tie Logan to abortion restrictions, while Republicans are trying to tie Hayes to soaring inflation. Hayes shot back on a recent edition of News 12’s “Connecticut Power and Politics.
"You can't blame a Democratic bill for global inflation,” she said. “We have a pandemic, a war in Ukraine, supply chain disruptions."
With control of Congress at stake, all eyes are focused on this race. But former GOP strategist Dr. Gayle Alberda, who now teaches at Fairfield University, downplayed the new poll’s national significance.
"I would be cautionary with that,” she said. “If you do look at the poll, the poll does show, again, that it's within the margin of error. And there was a relatively small sample size."
History may prove that correct. In 2010, three different polls showed then Rep. Chris Murphy losing the 5th Congressional District seat to a Republican. Murphy went on to win by nine points and has served as a senator since 2013.