A new University of Connecticut-Hartford Courant poll shows the U.S. Senate race in a “statistical dead heat” with more than six weeks to go until Election Day.
The poll of 517 likely voters shows Democratic Congressman Chris Murphy with a slight lead over Republican Linda McMahon. The poll has Murphy leading McMahon with 37 percent of the vote of McMahon’s 33 percent with 28 percent undecided. The number of undecided voters increases when party affiliation is considered. A whopping 48 percent of unaffiliated voters, who make up the state’s largest voting bloc, are still undecided and the poll’s margin of error is 4 percent.
“Right now, this is anyone’s race,” Jennifer Dineen, UConn’s poll director, said. “Both candidates need to focus on that large number of undecided voters if they want to open up a lead going into the home stretch.”
An Aug. 28 Quinnipiac University poll showed McMahon with 49 percent of the vote to Murphy’s 46 percent.
The poll shows there’s no gender gap between the two candidates. Murphy and McMahon are roughly even with female voters, standing at 38 percent and 35 percent, respectively, of the vote. However, McMahon is leading among independent voters with 35 percent saying they will vote for her. Only 15 percent of independents said they would vote for Murphy.
McMahon received the endorsement of the Independent Party, while Murphy has received the endorsement of the Working Families Party, so both candidates will appear on the ballot twice. I
“It’s good news for McMahon that she’s winning over independents at that rate, but both campaigns should see it as an opportunity that one in two unaffiliated voters is still on the fence,” Dineen said.
The sample of unaffiliated voters was much smaller than Democratic voters, which Dineen defended arguing Democrats would turnout in greater numbers. The Quinnipiac University poll in August used a sample of 40 percent independent voters, 33 percent Democrats, and 22 percent Republicans.
But the Murphy campaign should be encouraged by the large number of undecided Democratic voters, a total of 27 percent have not made up their minds, while just 17 percent of Republicans remain undecided.
Geographically, McMahon is doing well in eastern Connecticut and Murphy is out in front in Hartford County and the coastal and central part of the state, but the race is a dead heat in western Connecticut where Murphy edges McMahon by just two percentage points.
A traditionally blue state, Connecticut Republicans have not won a U.S. Senate seat since 1982. This is the second time McMahon has sought the seat. She ran in 2010 against then-Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and lost by 12 points. But she seems to be doing much better this year against Murphy, a three-term congressman from the 5th Congressional District which includes the northwestern portion of the state.
McMahon and Murphy are vying for retiring U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s seat.
Click on the video below to see an interview with Dineen.