(Updated 10:14 a.m.) After coming within 9 percentage points of Republican Linda McMahon in March, a new Quinnipiac University Poll released Wednesday shows former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays behind the former wrestling executive by 29 points.
“Linda McMahon is now the clear frontrunner for the GOP nod, crushing Congressmen Christopher Shays by 29 points, after having led Shays by only 9 points back in March,” Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz said. “It is hard to see how Shays can overcome such a large lead by primary day, August 14.”
McMahon, who received the Republican nomination in May and has been running television advertisements, seems to be closing the gap among female voters — a weakness that may have contributed to her defeat in 2010. The latest poll shows she has a favorability rating of 43 percent among women, which is an increase of 7 points over where she stood in March.
But McMahon still may have difficulty overcoming her role as CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment. Forty-one percent of women said they were less likely to support her because of it, while 35 percent of men were less likely to support her because of her ties to the WWE. .
Shays, who served 21 years in Congress, had been touting the fact that he was more competitive than McMahon in a general election against Democratic frontrunner U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, but the latest poll shows he’s also lost his edge in that matchup. In March he was 1 point behind Murphy, but the latest poll shows him 8 points behind Murphy.
“McMahon also is doing better against Congressman Chris Murphy, the front runner for the Democratic nomination. She is essentially tied with Murphy after trailing by 15 points in March,” Schwartz said.
Shays’ campaign said it’s not concerned about the latest polling numbers.
“It’s clear we have our work cut out for us,” Amanda Bergen, Shays’ spokeswoman, said Wednesday. “Chris has been in this position before and he’s won 18 elections. Chris has the experience, knowledge, and guts to hit the ground running on day one.”
On the Democratic side, the latest poll has Murphy defeating former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz 50-20 percent, an increase of 13 points over a March poll.
In a general election matchup, Murphy continues to defeat McMahon 46-43 percent. Murphy’s lead over McMahon has decreased by six points, while McMahon has increased her chances of defeating Murphy by six points over where the race stood in March.
The McMahon-Murphy matchup features a reverse gender gap as men back McMahon 48-44 percent, while women back Murphy 47-38 percent. Murphy leads 55-35 percent among voters with a college degree while McMahon leads 48-40 percent among voters without a degree.
“McMahon’s improvement in the general election against Murphy is due to her better performance among independent voters. She now has 43 percent of these key voters to Murphy’s 41 percent, overcoming a 15-point deficit in March,” Schwartz said.
However, only about 16 percent of voters surveyed had yet to make up their mind about McMahon, while 46 percent have yet to form an opinion of Murphy.
“Unlike in our last poll, McMahon would be a stronger candidate than Shays against Murphy,” he added.
The poll surveyed 1,408 registered voters between May 29 and June 3. It has a 2.6 percent margin of error. The survey included interviews with 381 Republicans with a 5 percent margin of error and 538 Democrats with a 4.2 percent margin of error.