(Updated) The first Quinnipiac University poll of the general election shows Democrat Richard Blumenthal leading Republican Linda McMahon by six points among likely voters in the race for the U.S. Senate.
A Quinnipiac University poll in August showed Blumenthal leading McMahon by 10 points, but Poll Director Doug Schwartz cautioned about comparing the two polls since today’s includes likely voters and previous polls screened for registered voters.
“This is now a 6 point race among likely voters,” Schwartz said. “With seven weeks to go and lots of money to be spent, anything can happen.”
Three percent of voters are undecided and another 11 percent said they could change their minds. While both McMahon and Blumenthal have support from their respective parties, the poll found they are almost evenly split amongst Independent voters.
Independent voters outnumber both Democrats and Republicans in Connecticut, which means they often influence the results of a general election. Tuesday’s poll found Independent voters support Blumenthal 47 percent to McMahon’s 46 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, according to the poll
“For Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, an elected official with a 70 percent approval rating, this race is surprisingly close,” Schwartz said. “It is not that voters are wild about McMahon; her favorability rating is tepid. And many of her supporters are more anti-Blumenthal.”
McMahon’s favorability rating still trails Blumenthal’s. By a 55 – 39 percent margin, voters have a favorable opinion of Blumenthal, compared to a 45 – 41 percent favorability for McMahon.
President Barack Obama’s job approval rating in the latest poll plummets to a negative 45 – 52 percent in the state. Obama will visit Connecticut on Thursday to stump for Blumenthal.
Schwartz said the President may be a drag on Blumenthal. But “the question is whether Linda McMahon can ride the anti-establishment, anti-Democratic wave to victory in blue Connecticut, a state that hasn’t voted for a Republican for Senator since Lowell Weicker in 1982.”
“McMahon would be Connecticut’s first female Senator,“ Schwartz said. “But it is Blumenthal’s advantage among women that is making the difference in the race.“
Women favor Blumenthal by a more than 2-to-1 margin over McMahon.
“It may be because women are less likely than men to be turned off by Blumenthal’s Vietnam misstatements, and more likely to be turned off by McMahon’s wrestling background,” Schwartz said.
McMahon’s campaign attributes her strong showing in the poll to her outsider status and business background.
“Since January, Dick Blumenthal’s 41-point lead in the polls has all but evaporated,” Ed Patru, McMahon’s communications director, said. “While Linda has been focused on economic recovery and job creation, Blumenthal has been waiting out the clock and relying on his political allies to run negative attacks against Linda – attacks that were paid for by tens of thousands of dollars secretly funneled from the Blumenthal estate.”
“This will be an election, not a coronation. And in November, Connecticut voters will have a clear choice between a career politician who doesn’t get it and a proven job creator who does,” Patru said.
Blumenthal has said it’s an election not an auction referring to the $50 million she plans to spend on the campaign.
“We’ve always believed this was going to be a tough election, and, that the people of Connecticut will reject Linda McMahon’s $50 million attack machine and her attempt to whitewash her record of putting profits ahead of people,” Mindy Meyers, Blumenthal’s campaign manager, said. “We’re confident that on Election Day the people of Connecticut will choose Dick Blumenthal, the only candidate in this race with a record of standing up, fighting, and winning for the people of Connecticut and putting their interests first.”
The poll conducted Sept. 8-13 surveyed 875 Connecticut likely voters and has a plus or minus 3.3 percent margin of error.