A Public Policy Polling survey of 592 Connecticut voters found that Republican Chris Shays could make the race for the U.S. Senate a close one if the match-up is between him and U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy.

Murphy leads Shays only 43 to 39 in a hypothetical match-up. Shays also beats former Secretary of the State Susan Byseiwicz 48 to 37 and state Rep. William Tong 46 to 27.

“Shays’ strength lies in his appeal to both Democrats and independents,“ the poll concluded.

He would win 13 to 24 percent of the Democratic vote depending on which Democratic candidate he’s running against. He also leads amongst independent voters with 9 to 33 percent of that vote depending on who he‘s running against.

Shays also tops last year’s Republican nominee Linda McMahon, 50-43; and beats former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, 45-36.

“Chris Shays could make this a pretty close race,” Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling, said. “His problem is that Democrats like him more than Republicans. That’s not a good formula for surviving a GOP primary with Linda McMahon.”

Only 34 percent of Republicans see him in a favorable light, while 30 percent have a negative opinion of him. Those numbers pale in comparison to McMahon’s numbers with Republicans. Sixty-three percent of Republicans have a positive opinion of McMahon while 25 percent have an unfavorable opinion of her.

A blog post about the poll also concluded that if McMahon wins the Republican nomination then the state is likely to see a repeat of what happened in 2010.

“This race really is 2010 all over again for Republicans, not just in Connecticut but nationally.  If Shays is the nominee this is really a winnable race for the GOP,“ it says. “But the party base is very skeptical of him and if Linda McMahon and her overall 39/49 favorability rating win the nomination again it’s hard to see Republicans winning, especially if Democrats go with their more electable candidate in Murphy. GOP voters will just have to decide if they’re willing to compromise on ideology for a big upgrade in electability. They weren’t last year, but maybe they’ll learn their lesson for 2012.”

The poll found the electorate is shifting more to the Republican party than it was six months ago when the last poll was conducted.

“The candidates are holding almost identical levels of support within their own bases, but there have been some shifts toward the Republicans among the quarter of voters who identify as independents,” the poll found.

The poll also found that Murphy and Shays are the more likeable of all the candidates.

The poll found 35 percent of voters had a favorable opinion of Murphy, while 28 percent had an unfavorable opinion. About 37 percent had a favorable opinion of Shays, while 28 percent had an unfavorable opinion. 

The poll of 592 Connecticut voters was conducted Sept. 22-25 and has a 4 percent margin of error.