Charlie Cook Moves Connecticut Senate Race to 'Toss-Up'

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The Cook Political Report has shifted the Connecticut Senate Race from "Lean Democratic" to "Toss-Up." Cook cites a recent Quinnipiac poll that had Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal leading Republican and former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon by a mere six points. In January, Quinnipiac had Blumenthal leading by 41 percent. The race update also includes a Democratic poll conducted by Hamilton Campaigns that gave Blumenthal a sturdier 15-point lead.

"When all the polling taken in the race is considered, it is clear that McMahon has made slow but steady and consistent progress against Blumenthal," the update concludes. "... With seven weeks left to go, McMahon has made this a race and Democrats' best efforts to stall her candidacy have not worked. This, of course, could certainly change as they start airing negative ads against her, but for now McMahon is in the hunt, handing Democrats a race in an expensive blue state that they weren't expecting."

Democrats have been focusing on the darker side of McMahon's wrestling past, the Cook Report observes, but so far this tactic has not worked as well as they've hoped:

Wrestling will remain a topic for the next seven weeks and eventually either Blumenthal or a Democratic independent expenditure campaign will start airing television ads devoted to wrestling. Still, given how omnipresent wrestling has been in the race for months, we are surprised that it hasn't done more damage to McMahon. While her favorable/unfavorable ratings are certainly higher than is desirable, she continues to make progress in the race.

And then there is, of course, the issue of McMahon's substantial personal fortune:

Much of McMahon's progress can be attributed to her constant presence on the air with television ads that have been running for months across the state, including in the expensive New York media market. Not only will she remain on the air for the next seven weeks, but the campaign's buys are likely to increase. Blumenthal has run ads intermittently, though they've been more consistent over the past couple of weeks. The ads generally focus on his accomplishments, particularly when they impact average voters, and work to portray him as a fighter for Connecticut who is not afraid to take on big business. He has yet to take on McMahon, but that will undoubtedly change soon.

On the plus side for Democrats, Cook moved the Senate race in Delaware from "Lean Republican" to "Lean Democratic" after Christine O'Donnell won the GOP primary.

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Nicole Allan is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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