(Updated 11:46 a.m.) If the Republican primary for U.S. Senate were held today former wrestling executive Linda McMahon would best former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays 50 to 35 percent, the latest Quinnipiac University poll found.
And if the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate were held today U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy would lead former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz 36 to 26, state Rep. William Tong barely rates with 1 percent of the votes. Thirty-five percent of voters are still undecided.
U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman who has held the seat since 1989 announced in January he was not seeking reelection.
McMahon, who spent $50 million on her last campaign and did poorly amongst women in the 2010 contest, leads 47 to 32 percent among Republican women and 54 to 37 percent among Republican men. While she does well amongst Republican women she does poorly amongst female voters in the general election.
“She continues to struggle with women voters,” Quinnipiac Poll Director Douglas Schwartz said Friday. Forty-five percent of women have an unfavorable opinion of McMahon, while 35 percent have a favorable opinion.
Schwartz said McMahon’s strength is that she’s the best known candidate in the race, but her weakness is that she’s the most unfavorably viewed candidate in the race.
Murphy leads 43 to 25 percent among Democratic men and 31 to 26 percent among women.
In the general election Murphy tops McMahon 49 to 38 percent, Bysiewicz beats her 46 to 38 percent. Murphy beats Shays 43 to 37 percent and Shays beats Bysiewicz 42 percent to 40 percent.
“While Connecticut has never had a woman United States Senator, there are two formidable women in the running as 2012 promises to be an interesting year on the statewide political scene,” Schwartz, said.
But Schwartz warns that it’s very early in the race, and there’s a lot of room for movement because about a third of Democrats are undecided.
“In the Republican primary, Linda McMahon’s name recognition advantage over former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays helps give her an early 15 point lead – before she turns on the vaunted McMahon money machine,” Schwartz said. “McMahon is much better known than Shays, but she doesn’t run as well in the general election. And not many voters have a good opinion of her.”
Shays represented the 4th Congressional District for 20 years before moving to Maryland.
Voters still have an unfavorable opinion of McMahon at 45 percent, while 41 percent have a favorable opinion of Shays. However, 44 percent still don’t know enough about him to form an opinion.
As for Bysiewicz 39 percent have a favorable opinion with 33 percent don’t know enough about her to form an opinion and 38 percent have a favorable opinion of Murphy with 45 percent who don’t know enough to form an opinion.
The poll did not include Republican Brian K. Hill of Windsor and Vernon Mayor Jason McCoy announced his campaign for U.S. Senate last night during a taping of “Face the State.”
Hill responded by saying he looks forward to be included in future polls. “Nobody knows who he is,” Schwartz said.
It would seem no knows who Tong is either. Schwartz countered that Tong is a state representative. Schwartz said if Hill is able to raise money and receive media coverage then he will be included in the next poll.
As for the presidential race, Connecticut voters are divided on how President Barack Obama is doing. Forty-eight percent approve and disapprove of the job he’s doing, down from his 53 percent approval rating in June and the president’s lowest grade ever in the state.
Among Republican presidential candidates, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads the pack with 37 percent, followed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry with 19 percent, Minnesota U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann at 8 percent and no other candidate above 4 percent.
The poll surveyed 1,230 registered voters and the poll has a 2.8 percent margin of error.
The survey includes 332 Republicans with a 5.4 percent margin of error and 447 Democrats with a 4.6 percent margin of error.