Former wrestling executive Linda McMahon has taken a commanding lead in Connecticut’s GOP Senate primary and is now running neck-and-neck with her probable Democratic opponent in a race that may determine which party controls the Senate.
A new Quinnipiac University poll shows McMahon leading former Rep. Christopher Shays 59 to 30 percent in the Republican primary. In March she led Shays 51 to 42 percent. In the Democratic primary, Rep. Christopher Murphy leads former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz 50 to 20, also an improvement over March results.
In a possible fall matchup, Murphy leads McMahon 46 to 43 percent, a sharp fall-off from March when his lead was 52 to 37 percent.
"McMahon also is doing better against Congressman Chris Murphy, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination,” said Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz. “She is essentially tied with Murphy after trailing by 15 points in March.
"McMahon's improvement in the general election against Murphy is due to her better performance among independent voters. She now has 43 percent of these key voters, to Murphy's 41 percent, overcoming a 15-point deficit in March."
McMahon’s favorables have also increased and 45 percent of voters have a favorable rating of her compared to 40 percent in March.
"McMahon also is benefitting from a huge name recognition advantage after her 2010 Senate campaign. The other three candidates are unknown to over 40 percent of the electorate," Schwartz said.
In the race to the White House, President Barack Obama leads GOP challenger Mitt Romney 50 to 38 percent in Connecticut,. Break-out figures show the president is up 48 to 42 percent among men, 52 to 35 percent with women and 45 to 35 percent with independent voters.
"While President Barack Obama has a comfortable double digit lead over Gov. Mitt Romney, McMahon is running in a close race against Murphy, Schwartz said. “With Republicans needing to pick up only four seats to win control of the U.S. Senate, the national spotlight could turn on this competitive Senate race to fill Sen. Joe Lieberman's seat."
The two are vying for the seat vacated by Lieberman, who chose to retire rather than seek a fifth term. Lieberman is an independent who caucuses with the Democrats.
The survey was conducted May 29 - June 3 and polled 1,408 registered voters.
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