According to Politico, the state of Connecticut is now considered to be a battleground state in the upcoming November election. Several factors have contributed to the shift in a state that was assumed to continue its legacy as an automatic win for the Democratic party.
First, two polls have now suggested that Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon is several points ahead of her opponent, Congressman Chris Murphy, in the race for retiring Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s seat. A Rasmussen survey of likely voters found McMahon to be three points ahead of Murphy, 49-46%, and now a Quinnipiac University poll, a larger sample of likely voters, also arrived at a 49-46% lead for McMahon. Of particular note is that, with Independents, McMahon leads by double digits, 55-40%, over Murphy.
The left-leaning Public Policy Polling survey of voters (not likely voters) found Murphy, a protégé of former Sen. Chris Dodd, to be leading McMahon, 48-44%.
Now, Republicans should be cautious, as McMahon, who is funding her own campaign, is already known across the state from her first unsuccessful run against current Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D) in 2010, to fill Dodd’s seat. Murphy has yet to stretch his name recognition beyond his current congressional district. Below is, perhaps, the most famous clip from McMahon's debates against Blumenthal:
Another factor that explains the shift in Connecticut’s status is that the Quinnipiac poll has President Obama leading Mitt Romney in the state by a narrow 52-45% lead. Obama handily won this state over Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in 2008 by 23 points. With Independent voters in Connecticut, however, the race is even tighter with Romney leading Obama, 49-47%.
According to the Q-poll, 58% of those surveyed in Connecticut said that the economy will be “extremely important” to their presidential vote, and 49% believe Romney would do a better job with the economy than Obama, at 44%.
Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., observed, “Although President Barack Obama is ahead of Gov. Mitt Romney, his 7-point lead is a far cry from his 23-point victory in 2008 over John McCain. We shouldn’t, however, expect to see the candidates campaigning in Connecticut, which hasn’t voted for a Republican since 1988.”
Schwartz added, “This smaller than expected margin for Obama could affect the Senate race. The Murphy campaign is hoping to benefit from Obama’s coattails, but right now they are not very long.”
As Politico’s Charles Mahtesian points out, “the strongly Democratic state doesn’t look nearly as hostile to the GOP ticket as it did four years ago.” Regarding Obama’s lead over Romney in the state, Mahtesian adds, “If it’s indeed a 7-point spread, that makes Connecticut a closer race than in Arizona and Pennsylvania, two states often cited as swing state battlegrounds.”
For those who may want to delve further into Connecticut’s voting history, Eric Ostermeier of Smart Politics, offers an excellent piece.