Richard Blumenthal once held a 33-percentage-point advantage over former WWE CEO Linda McMahon in the Connecticut Senate race. That was in March, before anything had really happened in this race, including the scandal over Blumenthal's Vietnam misstatements, and the assertion of McMahon's vast personal wealth as she spent $20 million to blanket the state with ads for her Republican primary.
Since then, the race has narrowed in a big way. According to a new Quinnipiac poll
, Blumenthal's lead is down to six percentage points. From Quinnipiac:
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, the Democrat, leads Republican former wrestling executive Linda McMahon 51 - 45 percent among likely voters in the U.S. Senate race, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
Another 3 percent are undecided and 11 percent of those who do name a candidate say they could change their mind by Election Day. This is the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University's first general election likely voter survey in Connecticut in this election cycle and can not be compared to earlier surveys of registered voters.
The only other major firm polling in Connecticut appears to be Rasmussen, which also shows Blumenthal leading by single digits. Quinnipiac accurately predicted the results of the GOP primary for McMahon and chief GOP rival Rob Simmons, while it underrepresented support for third-place candidate Peter Schiff by about 7 percentage points (the same number Quinnipiac showed as undecided).
A few important factors are at play in this race:
1) While Blumenthal entered this race as one of the most popular politicians in the state, McMahon and her money (she's pledged to spend $50 million on the race) appear to be evening things out.
2) If this race stays close, it may require the Democratic Party to expend resources in Connecticut.
3) Connecticut can be an expensive state, since a good portion of the electorate lives in the New York media market. Democrats and Democratic allies feel they have enough bad things to say about McMahon to effectively tarnish her candidacy, but they may not get a chance to air those things in as many TV ads as they'd like. There is ample racy video footage of the WWE, and the widespread use of steroids in pro wrestling supplies perhaps a meatier attack line--or at least raises much heavier questions--than the age-appropriateness of WWE spectacle. Blumenthal had $2.1 million in the bank as of earlier this summer, and it will cost his allies a hefty sum if they are to air those criticisms on TV.
UPDATE: Democratic internal polling shows a rosier picture for Blumenthal: a September 8-12 survey of 800 voters by Hamilton Campaigns shows Blumenthal leading 54-39 percent.