(Updated) The latest Quinnipiac University poll still has Attorney General Richard Blumenthal beating former World Wrestling Entertainment Executive Linda McMahon in a November match up, but by a smaller 20 point margin than its poll conducted two weeks ago.
If the election were held today Blumenthal would receive 55 percent of the vote to McMahon’s 35 percent. Just two weeks ago Blumenthal held a 25 point lead over his Republican rival.
The numbers in the public poll are much closer to internal polls conducted by both campaigns. Blumenthal’s internal poll conducted at the end of May had him beating McMahon by 15 points and McMahon’s internal poll conducted June 1-3 had her trailing Blumenthal by 13 points.
“Three weeks after the Vietnam flap, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has lost a little more ground to Linda McMahon, but he still has a comfortable lead. Prior to the Vietnam controversy, Blumenthal led by 33 points. A week after the controversy, his lead was 25 points. Now it’s down to 20 points,” said Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz.
Schwartz wondered if McMahon can duplicate efforts seen in other primaries across the country this week.
“In primaries across the country this week, Republican women soared. Can McMahon do the same in Connecticut?,” Schwartz said.
The one difference between McMahon and Republican candidates in other states Schwartz said is “that Connecticut voters have a negative view of the WWE and say that her experience as the World Wrestling Entertainment CEO makes them less likely to vote for her by about two-one margins.”
The good news for McMahon is that her favorability rating is back in the positive range. According to the poll 38 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of her, while 35 percent have an unfavorable opinion. In the poll conducted two weeks ago 32 percent had a favorable opinion of her, while 39 percent had an unfavorable opinion. The bad news for McMahon is that 51 percent of voters prefer a candidate with experience, while 38 percent say they prefer an outsider.
Blumenthal’s favorability rating is down slightly from 61 to 59 percent and his unfavorability amongst voters has remained steady at 29 percent.
“There’s a clear choice here for the U.S. Senate and by a 20 point margin the people of Connecticut see it,” Maura Downes, Blumenthal’s campaign spokewoman, said. “They know Dick Blumenthal will stand up for them in Washington just as he has here in Connecticut. And even with her $16 million barrage of advertising, mail and negative attacks, Linda McMahon is the choice of barely one third of voters.”
McMahon’s campaign had a different spin.
“We’re as confident in our internal numbers today as we were yesterday and the margin in this race is in the 10- to 15-point range,” Ed Patru, McMahon’s communications director said. “That is confirmed not only by our internals, but also by Dick Blumenthal’s campaign. The fact that Dick Blumenthal, a 26-year career politician, is on the verge of dipping below 50 percent in the polls this early in the campaign, suggests Connecticut voters are ready for something different and it explains Linda’s growing momentum.”
Even though former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons dropped out of the race more than two weeks ago, his numbers have improved. McMahon still beats him 45 to 29 percent in a head to head match up but his numbers inched up from 23 percent to 29 percent over the two week period. Peter Schiff, who is confident he garnered enough signatures to get onto the Republican primary ballot, loses with just 13 percent of the vote.
It took the Schiff campaign 12 hours to issue a statement on the poll results. The response came from pollster Adam Probolsky.
“Despite McMahon’s generous campaign spending, her negative perception among voters may simply be too great to overcome,” Probolsky said. “Therefore, Schiff appears to be the best Republican candidate positioned for victory against Blumenthal.”
The survey of 1,350 registered voters has a plus or minus 4.4 percent margin of error for Democratic respondents and 5.3 percent margin of error for Republicans.
This story will be updated throughout the morning.