(Updated) Former wrestling executive Linda McMahon has taken a 10 point lead over former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons in the latest Quinnipiac University poll on the race for U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd’s seat.
In Quinnipiac ’s January poll Simmons held a 10 point, 37 to 27 percent lead, over McMahon. Now, McMahon holds a 44 to 34 percent lead over Simmons amongst the 387 Republicans surveyed.
Peter Schiff, the third Republican vying for the nomination, received just 9 percent of the vote.
“What explains Linda McMahon’s rise in the polls? Money,“ Doug Schwartz, Quinnipiac University Poll Director, said in a press release. “She is the only Senate candidate on TV right now. She quickly has become as well-known and well-liked among Republicans.”
At a Capitol press conference Wednesday morning, Schwartz said McMahon is doing well amongst conservatives, women, and Tea Party activists.
But the ever-popular Attorney General Richard Blumenthal still tramples his Republican opponents in the general election. According to the latest poll Blumenthal leads McMahon 61 to 28 percent, Simmons 62 to 26 percent, and Schiff 64 to 21 percent.
Even more daunting for McMahon may be voter’s views of World Wrestling Entertainment. According to the poll 54 percent have an unfavorable opinion of the WWE, but 49 percent say McMahon’s experience as CEO of that company doesn’t make a difference. However, it makes 33 percent of voters less likely to vote for her and 15 percent more likely to vote for her.
Schwartz said her association to the WWE is more negative than positive for McMahon. It’s not as big of an issue in the Republican primary as the general election, but Republicans have an unfavorable view of professional wrestling, Schwartz said.
McMahon’s campaign doesn’t seem to be concerned.
In an emailed statement McMahon’s campaign spokesman Ed Patru said, “We are very encouraged by the results of this poll. We have said for months that the momentum behind Linda’s candidacy is real and undeniable.”
The Simmons campaign was also quick to respond to the poll results Wednesday morning.
“It should be no surprise to anyone that after six months and millions and millions of dollars in uncontested spending, including on misleading negative attack mail against Rob Simmons that Factcheck.org deemed riddled with falsehoods, that Linda McMahon would be able to buy an improvement in her polling,” Jim Barnett, Simmons campaign manager, said in an emailed statement. “With the primary still five months away, we are confident that when presented with a choice between McMahon’s record of scandal and Rob Simmons’ record of honorable service, Republican voters will choose a candidate that will make them proud and that is Rob Simmons.”
Barnett described the race as a marathon and not a sprint.
Meanwhile, Blumenthal also bests Merrick Alpert in a Democratic primary 81 to 6 percent.
Despite his performance in the debates earlier this month, the poll found 93 percent of the voters don’t know enough about him to even form an opinion.
“While money could make the difference in the Republican primary, it will have less of an effect in the general election,” Schwartz said. “It is very hard to change the public’s opinion of an elected official they have known and liked for 20 years.”
A total of 1,451 voters were surveyed for the latest poll.