There’s no way that Republicans can lose a Senate race in Missouri while winning two in Massachusetts and Connecticut … right?  Would Spock have to wear a goatee in that universe?  Rasmussen’s new poll in the Nutmeg State shows Republican nominee Linda McMahon out to a slight lead over Democratic nominee Chris Murphy in their first look at the general election race for Joe Lieberman’s US Senate seat:

Former wrestling executive Linda McMahon holds a narrow lead over Democratic Congressman Chris Murphy in Rasmussen Reports’ first look at Connecticut’s U.S. Senate race.

A new telephone survey of Likely Voters in Connecticut shows McMahon with 49% of the vote to Murphy’s 46%.  One percent (1%) prefer some other candidate, and five percent (5%) are undecided.

McMahon will surely make Murphy’s support for ObamaCare a big issue in the election, but Rasmussen sees that as more of a push:

Murphy voted in favor of President Obama’s health care reform law and has publicly stated that the law will save money on Medicare. When it comes to the future of Medicare, 44% of Connecticut voters are scared more by the president’s health care law than the reform proposal by Mitt Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan. But just as many (43%) say they are more scared of Ryan’s proposal on Medicare. Connecticut voters are more evenly divided on the question than voters are nationwide.

Eighty percent (80%) of Connecticut voters who fear the health care law’s impact on Medicare more support McMahon. Murphy is backed by 77% of those who fear Ryan’s plan for Medicare more.

This can’t be right, can it?  Rasmussen must be using a Republican-friendly sample, people will assume … but they’d be wrong.  In fact, the sample D/R/I (46/32/22) more closely resembles the 2008 Democratic wave exit polls (43/27/31) than the 2010 exit polls (39/28/33) for Connecticut.  Remember that Republicans lost the Senate seat in 2010 even with the narrower gap in turnout, too.  Murphy has a seven-point lead among women, which Rasmussen oversamples (56/44) in comparison to 2008 (53/47) and 2010 (49/51).  The poll sample, if anything, might be tilted a little in Murphy’s favor.

So how does McMahon get her lead?  She has a 24-point margin among independents, 55/31, for one thing.  McMahon only trails by nine among voters under 40 (40/49), but gets a majority of the other two age demos, including an 18-point lead among seniors.  Both candidates are seen favorably by voters, but McMahon’s 54/43 is slightly better than Murphy’s 50/41.  Among independents, though, McMahon again far outpaces Murphy, with a 57/36 compared to Murphy’s 38/46 — and only 6% of independents view Murphy “very favorably,” as opposed to 23% for McMahon.

The big difference, besides the obvious advantage among independents, is probably the economy.  Democrats will be on defense, especially Murphy, who currently has a seat in the House.  Only 5% of voters rate the economy as “good,” with no one rating it excellent.  A majority of 57% rate it “poor,” and another 37% only rate it “fair.”  That will not help an incumbent, not even in Connecticut.

If McMahon can maintain her advantage over Murphy, the GOP may get an unexpected pickup to make up for the now-expected loss in Missouri.  It might also force Obama to spend some resources to make sure McMahon doesn’t drive enough turnout to have Connecticut voters thinking about change at the very top of the ticket, too.