(Updated) A new Quinnipiac University poll shows that Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s misstatements regarding his military experience may have bruised, but certainly has not broken his campaign for U.S. Senate. His Republican opponent seemed stunned by the poll results, which differ widely from a recent Rasmussen poll.
Still the frontrunner, Blumenthal holds a 25 point lead—56 to 31 percent—over former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon.
Blumenthal’s 25 point lead is just four points below where he was in March before evidence of him misstating his military service during the Vietnam era made national headlines.
“It looks like Connecticut voters forgive Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, or feel that there is nothing to forgive in the Vietnam service flap,“ said Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz. “While he has taken a hit with voters, his poll numbers were so high to begin with that he still maintains a commanding lead over Linda McMahon.”
McMahon is still the leader in the Republican primary with 49 percent of the vote. Former Congressman Rob Simmons, who ended his campaign this week, received 23 percent of the vote and Peter Schiff, who will petition his way onto the ballot, received 11 percent with 15 percent of Republicans still undecided.
Blumenthal’s favorability ratings remain high with Connecticut voters.
Blumenthal gets a 61 – 29 percent favorability, compared to a negative 32 – 39 percent favorability for McMahon.
“What is surprising is that McMahon gets no bounce from her Republican convention victory. Her negatives went up 13 points from 26 percent unfavorable to 39 percent unfavorable. The more voters get to know McMahon the less they like her,” Schwartz concluded.
Thirty-three percent of voters say that Blumenthal’s statements about his Vietnam era military service make them less likely to vote for him, but 61 percent say it doesn’t make a difference. Blumenthal “misspoke,” 54 percent of voters say, while 38 percent say he “lied.”
By a 53 – 35 percent margin voters are satisfied with his explanation.
“The people of Connecticut know they can count on Dick Blumenthal to stand up for them against even the toughest opponents, and that’s what he’ll do in the U.S. Senate,” Blumenthal campaign spokeswoman Maura Downes said. “Dick is taking nothing for granted in this race—he is focused on listening to people on the issues that matter most to them, like jobs and the economy, and working hard to earn their support.”
A stunned McMahon campaign took a few hours to respond to the poll results Thursday, issuing its first release at 10:27 a.m.
“The findings of today’s Quinnipiac University poll are curious and perhaps odd, given that four polls on the Connecticut Senate race have been made public over the past 21 days, and three of those suggest the spread between Linda McMahon and Dick Blumenthal is somewhere between 15 points and a statistical dead heat,” Ed Patru, McMahon’s communications director, said Thursday. “An Independent poll conducted by Rasmussen in early May showed the race to be within 13 points. A second Rasmussen poll conducted last week showed Linda trailing Blumenthal by just three points, 48-45, well within the margin of error.”
Schwartz refused to comment on the Rasmussen polls, but he did say they were conducted at different times. The last Rasmussen poll was conducted shortly after Blumenthal’s misstatements were featured on the front page of the New York Times. Schwartz said the Quinnipiac Polling Institute started making phone calls for its poll the night of Monday, May 24, which is after Blumenthal issued his first apology. Rasmussen had McMahon closing the gap to within the margin of error.
On the Republican side Tom Foley leads the pack with 37 percent of the vote. Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele gets 11 percent and businessman R. Nelson “Oz” Griebel gets 5 percent. But the big winner on the Republican side is still undecided. Forty-two percent of Republicans are undecided and the percentage of voters that don’t know enough about the candidates to form an opinion ranges from 58 percent to 88 percent.
On the Democratic side Ned Lamont leads former Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy 41 – 24 percent, with 30 percent undecided. While 39 percent haven’t heard enough about Lamont to form an opinion, a whopping 65 percent of voters don’t know enough about Malloy to form an opinion.
“The voters recognize that Connecticut needs a leader who isn’t afraid to shake things up in Hartford, and they know that Ned is the one with the experience and ideas to do it,” Lamont communications director Justine Sessions said. She said Lamont’s 17 point lead over Malloy shows that Lamont’s share of the vote continues to grow.
Malloy’s campaign had a different spin.
“As for the Q-Poll, in January Dan was at 11 and Ned was at 27. Today Dan’s at 24 and Ned’s at 41. That means they’ve each moved by almost the same amount. But Ned’s spent a million dollars on TV and Dan hasn’t spent a dime,” Malloy campaign manager Dan Kelly said.
The poll surveyed 1,159 voters between May 24-25 and it has a 2.9 percent margin of error.