Try to remember than six months ago, almost everyone wrote off the Senate race in Connecticut after Richard Blumenthal replaced the retiring Chris Dodd in the race. Democrats practically own Connecticut, and Republicans would be foolish to spend money on a race that Blumenthal should have won by twenty or more points. Fortunately for the GOP, it had self-funding candidate Linda McMahon — and a gaffe-prone Democrat — in a cycle that should erase any notion of safe seats. Quinnipiac’s latest poll shows McMahon within six points of the lead:
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, the Democrat, leads Republican former wrestling executive Linda McMahon 51 – 45 percent among likely voters in the U.S. Senate race, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
Another 3 percent are undecided and 11 percent of those who do name a candidate say they could change their mind by Election Day. This is the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe- ack) University’s first general election likely voter survey in Connecticut in this election cycle and can not be compared to earlier surveys of registered voters.
In today’s survey, conducted by telephone with live interviewers, Blumenthal leads 87 – 10 percent among Democrats and gets 47 percent of independent voters to McMahon’s 46 percent. McMahon leads 91 – 9 percent among Republicans. Women back Blumenthal 56 – 41 percent, while men split 47 – 48 percent.
Among those backing McMahon, 42 percent say their vote is mainly against Blumenthal, while 53 percent say they mainly are pro-McMahon. Blumenthal backers are 22 percent anti- McMahon and 73 percent pro-Blumenthal.
The internals extend the story, but Quinnipiac gives the overall story in its release. They split on most personal qualities fairly evenly, except on experience; 72% think Blumenthal has the right experience for the job, while 56% think McMahon doesn’t have the right experience. Blumenthal also leads on favorability, with a 55/39 compared to McMahon’s 45/41. But those numbers are quite the comedown from this past winter, when Blumenthal led by 30 or more points.
With seven weeks to go, McMahon appears to be gaining momentum, and perhaps in part because of the experience argument. It’s an open seat, but Blumenthal represents the Democratic Party establishment in a cycle uniquely hostile to that very entity. His multiple gaffes and exposure of dishonest statements has eroded his standing in Connecticut, although not yet to the point where he has sunk below 51% among likely voters. McMahon has run a smart campaign, but the difference in this race is that Connecticut voters got a lot more acquainted with Blumenthal than they had in previous elections.
That 51% is still enough to win the seat, and McMahon is still an underdog, but this is a winnable race for Republicans.