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Independents flocking to Linda McMahon in Connecticut Senate race

By Felicia Sonmez

A new Quinnipiac poll shows that former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon (R) has significantly cut into Connecticut Attorney General Dick Blumenthal's (D) lead in the open-seat race to succeed Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.).

Blumenthal leads McMahon 50 percent to 40 percent in the poll, which surveyed 1,299 registered voters and had a margin of error of 2.7 percentage points. Blumenthal's current 10-point edge is down from his 17-point lead in July and his 25-point lead in May.

The key to McMahon's momentum appears to be independent voters, among whom she has enjoyed an uptick in support over the past several weeks. For the first time, McMahon is now winning independents 46 percent to 44 percent; in the July poll, they backed Blumenthal 54 percent to 35 percent. Blumenthal's favorability rating among independents has dropped from 62 percent in the previous poll to 52 percent, while McMahon's has risen from 39 percent to 49 percent. (Worth noting: Blumenthal takes a substantial 18 percent of registered Republicans.)

In the Republican primary, which has seen former Rep. Rob Simmons bring his bid back to life after suspending it in May, McMahon still tops the field with 47 percent of likely voters, while Simmons takes 30 percent and businessman Peter Schiff takes 14 percent. The July poll showed Simmons trailing McMahon 52 percent to 25 percent, with Schiff taking 13 percent.

While those results show Simmons making up ground since jumping back in the race, his 17-point deficit will be difficult to overcome in the six days remaining until the Aug. 10 primary. On top of that, a general election match-up shows that Simmons would lose to Blumenthal 54 percent to 35 percent -- a wider margin than McMahon currently faces.

McMahon spokesperson Ed Patru said that McMahon's camp was encouraged by the poll, pointing to the movement among independents in particular.

"It's consistent with what we've been seeing and hearing on the ground: voters across the political affiliations want something different, they are taking a close look at Linda, and they like what they see," Patru said.

Blumenthal's campaign took aim at the fact that McMahon is largely self-funding her bid - she has spent more than $21 million of her personal fortune so far and has said that she may spend as much as $50 million.

"Linda McMahon is spending $50 million in an attempt to buy this Senate seat with negative attacks bombarding Connecticut voters. But she can't buy Dick Blumenthal's record of standing up to the special interests for the people of Connecticut," Blumenthal manager Mindy Myers said.

By Felicia Sonmez  |  August 4, 2010; 10:41 AM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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