A poll commissioned by a liberal group shows that House Speaker Chris Donovan has opened a significant lead over his Democratic rivals, six weeks before the state's August primary.
The poll of 400 likely voters, conducted June 22-24 by Public Policy Polling, found that 45 percent of respondents believe Donovan would be the party's strongest candidate in the November general election.
Donovan, who is from Meriden, picked up his party's endorsement at its convention last month and has won the backing of several prominent groups, including the AFL-CIO and the SEIU, in recent weeks.
The PPP survey showed 25 percent of likely voters backing former state Rep. Elizabeth Esty, of Cheshire, and 12 percent of likely voters throwing support behind Dan Roberti, of Kent. Some 17 percent of those surveyed were unsure which candidate they supported.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which commissioned the poll, is a grassroots group that supports liberal positions such as a public option for health care reform and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. The group formally endorsed Donovan in September. In a statement released Friday, the group again voiced its support for Donovan.
"This polling shows that Chris Donovan's record of fighting for workers, families, and popular progressive causes has earned him major credibility with voters," said spokesman Neil Sroka. "That's why he is the overwhelming front runner in this primary and is seen as most electable against Republicans in November."