Blumenthal Loses Ground After Vietnam Service Flap

Wednesday, 19 May 2010 11:51 AM

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Following a New York Times report that Democratic Senate hopeful Richard Blumenthal exaggerated his military record to include service in Vietnam, he has lost ground in match-ups against all his potential Republican challengers in Connecticut.

Blumenthal has just a three-point advantage over Linda McMahon, 48 percent to 45 percent, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in Connecticut finds. Two weeks ago, he led the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment by 13 percentage points. The New York Times story broke late Monday; the survey was taken Tuesday evening.

When matched against former GOP Congressman Rob Simmons, Blumenthal leads 50 percent to 39 percent. Two weeks ago, the longtime state attorney general held a 23-point lead over Simmons.

Blumenthal now leads Peter Schiff, a high-profile Wall Street investment banker, 53 percent to 37 percent. In the previous survey, he posted a 54 percent-29 percent lead over Schiff.

Still, just 26 percent of voters say Blumenthal should withdraw from the Senate race. Only 9 percent of Democrats hold that view.

However, 53 percent of voters say “the issue of Blumenthal and his military service” will be at least somewhat important in terms of how they vote. That figure includes 27 percent who say the issue is very important. Among voters not affiliated with either major political party, 25 percent consider this issue very important.

Before The New York Times story, Blumenthal’s support never had fallen below 52 percent against any GOP challenger, and no Republican had reached the 40 percent level of support.

Although his support now has fallen against the potential GOP challengers, perceptions of Blumenthal have slipped only modestly. Almost two-thirds of voters view him favorably, just a dip from 72 percent two weeks ago.

By comparison, 54 percent have favorable views of both McMahon and Simmons, while 44 percent say the same of the much less well-known Schiff.
Both major political parties will have state conventions to begin the candidate nomination process this weekend. Depending upon the results of the conventions, the nominees may not become known until an Aug. 10 primary.

Blumenthal, who was widely expected to be selected as the Democratic nominee at this weekend’s convention, is being criticized for what many consider an "unsatisfying" response to The New York Times story during a news conference Tuesday. He became the anticipated nominee when longtime incumbent Chris Dodd announced he would not seek reelection.

Republicans hope to pick up a number of Senate seats in November. Democrats are struggling in Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Nevada, Indiana, North Dakota, Illinois, and Colorado.

If the political environment gets a bit worse for the Democrats, senators in California, Wisconsin, and Washington could be at risk.

The only Republican seat where the GOP candidate is trailing is in Ohio. Rob Portman is down by just a single point in that race.

If the political environment improves for Democrats, they could be competitive in Florida, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Missouri, and North Carolina.

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