Q-poll puts Blumenthal up big over McMahon

Richard Blumenthal appears to have dodged a bullet in Connecticut after, er, not dodging bullets in Vietnam as he repeatedly implied until being exposed by the New York Times.  After an initial poll by Rasmussen taken the day after the scandal broke found Blumenthal in a virtual dead heat for the US Senate seat with Linda McMahon, a Quinnipiac poll taken this week has Blumenthal reacquiring his previous commanding lead in the race:

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal leads former wrestling executive Linda McMahon 56 – 31 percent in the U.S. Senate race and tops the Republican candidate by large margins on every character measure, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

This compares to a 61 – 28 percent Blumenthal lead over McMahon in a March 17 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University.

McMahon leads the Republican primary for U.S. Senate with 49 percent, followed by former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons with 23 percent and businessman Peter Schiff with 11 percent, with 15 percent undecided. Simmons announced after one night of the survey that he was suspending his campaign, but that his name would remain on the GOP primary ballot.

What happened, wonders Steve McGough at Radio Vice Online?

Hold on here a second. Will someone in the media please take a look at the polling methodology between the Quinnipiac and Rasmussen polls concerning the US Senate race in Connecticut? Why are the results so different? …

I don’t have the time to get into all of the details, and I don’t have the crosstabs for the Rassmussen poll, but instead of just touting the hey-look-McMahon-is-in-a-freefall story, can someone in the media explain the difference and why/how this happened?

There are some differences between methodologies between the two pollsters.  As noted, Rasmussen polls likely voters, while the Q-poll surveys registered voters.  That difference could mean a few points difference in Blumenthal’s favor, but isn’t going to explain the big shift between the two data points.

There are a couple of reasons why Blumenthal rebounded.  First, just before the Quinnipiac polling began, Blumenthal finally apologized (more or less) for his dishonesty in an e-mail to the Hartford Courant.   Had he done so a week earlier, the Rasmussen poll would have looked much different.  The apology defused the news value of the scandal, even if it still left the aftertaste of dishonesty in voters’ mouths.

But even without an apology, the Rasmussen internals indicated that Blumenthal would recover from this episode.  His favorable rating was 66/32 even in the immediate wake of his exposure, including majorities of both men and women and in every age demographic.  Even 45% of Republicans gave him favorable marks, as did 55% of independents.  All they needed was a reasonable explanation from Blumenthal to forgive him, and anyone looking at those internals knew this would happen eventually, if not immediately.

The Q-poll found very similar numbers on Blumenthal’s favorability, 61/29, in this latest survey.  McMahon, however, scored much worse between the two polls.  In Rasmussen, she had a respectable 54/42, but in the Q-poll, she scored 32/39 — a worrisome number just after the Republican convention win, which should have given her a boost.  It could be that as the voters forgive Blumenthal, McMahon (whose campaign took credit for the exposure) will experience a backlash.