A new Rasmussen poll has found that Connecticut Senate Democratic candidate Chris Murphy has a five-point lead over Republican candidate Linda McMahon, 51%-46%. The survey of 500 likely voters was conducted following a rather contentious debate between the candidates on Sunday. The margin of error for this poll is +/- 4.5 percentage points.
Last Thursday, however, a Quinnipiac University poll of 1,696 likely voters found the Connecticut Senate race to be a dead heat, with 48% of likely voters favoring McMahon over Murphy’s 47%. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 2.4 percentage points. Weighted party identification distribution was Republican 23%, Democrat 34%, and Independent 38%.
The Quinnipiac survey also found that 50% of McMahon supporters are “very enthusiastic,” compared to 27% of the same for Murphy. Men support McMahon 52%-45%, while women back Murphy, 50%-44%. Of significance in this state, in which the largest voting bloc is “unaffiliated,” Independents favor the Republican, 52%-43%.
McMahon is clearly doing her best to cater to Connecticut Independents. Shunning attachments to “conservative” ideology and emphasizing her largely self-funded campaign, the Republican candidate’s ads assert that she “can’t be bought” by any party and boast that she has been compared to Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), a self-proclaimed independent Republican. Like Sen. Brown, she has promised to vote to repeal ObamaCare.
The image McMahon has tried to project in her campaign is that of a mother and grandmother who earlier fell on hard times, declared bankruptcy, then came back to become a successful entrepreneur and job creator. Murphy has tried to define her with the traditional liberal harangues regarding her wealth and the theme that she is likely running for office to give herself a big tax cut. He has also relied on "Mediscare" tactics.
McMahon has drawn fire from some conservative groups for her pro-choice stance and, most recently, her reversal on same-sex marriage. Prior to the debate on Sunday, McMahon had indicated she would uphold the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Following the debate, however, she announced that her opinion on the subject had “evolved” and that she was now in favor of same-sex marriage. And though McMahon appears to be against the coercive HHS contraception mandate, the fact that her ads tout that she provided access to contraception to her employees at World Wide Entertainment (WWE) suggests she might be courting women who have fallen prey to the Democrats’ War on Women meme.
If McMahon is frustrating conservatives in the blue state, she is likewise irritating liberals with the Murphy campaign who observed that her turn-around on gay marriage demonstrates her attempt to portray herself as more moderate than she really is.
Linda McMahon is trying to win in a blue state that has not elected a Republican senator in 30 years. If elected, Republicans will be one seat closer to a majority in the Senate -- a seat they had not even planned on winning. Her practical business sense is very much needed in status-quo Washington D.C., where she can help rein in government spending and overreach into the private sector. McMahon may not be the ideal conservative candidate for some, but if elected, she will have two things conservatives want: a vote against Harry Reid for Senate Majority Leader and a vote to repeal ObamaCare.