Two years ago Linda McMahon dumped $50 million of her own money into a race for the Senate only to lose by 12 points in what was a very good year for Republicans. She was dragged down by Democrats for her connection to the company she helped build with her husband, Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment.
Her decision to make a second run at the Senate to fill a seat opened up with the retirement of Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman seemed quixotic after the drubbing in 2010. But McMahon is proving the naysayers wrong and may help deliver the Senate to the GOP in the fall.
She is currently running even with Rep. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a fact not missed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which just made a $320,000 ad buy in the traditionally blue state.
The Real Clear Politics poll average has McMahon with a razor-thin lead of 47.3 to Murphy's 46.7.
“The only reason it’s close now is McMahon is going to end up spending about $40 million more than Murphy,” Connecticut-based Democratic strategist Ed Peavy told Real Clear Politics. “Money clearly has helped her. She runs a ton of media and [Democrats have] got to compete.”
But McMahon’s team counters that Murphy is a flawed candidate.
“We are running against an opponent who has never had a real job, has major ethical issues, skipped 80 percent of work,” McMahon’s campaign manager, Corry Bliss, told Real Clear Politics. “It’s obvious that Murphy’s campaign is failing. He is a flawed candidate with no accomplishments . . . and is desperate to be saved.”
McMahon is still sailing against a Democratic headwind in a state that hasn’t gone for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988. This year, as opposed to 2010, is a presidential election year, a factor that generally drives turnout higher. The Real Clear Politics average currently has Obama with a 9.3 advantage over Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Nonetheless, this time around, McMahon has rebranded herself, moving away from WWE, which Democrats had attacked as violent and anti-woman, and focusing on the economy and women.
An August Quinnipiac University poll found McMahon with a three-point lead over Murphy and 15 points ahead among independents. The poll also found Murphy with just a 4-point lead among women, generally a much stronger demographic for Democrats.
McMahon has worked hard to gain the support of women and independent and has held more than 100 "Conversations with Linda" events aimed primarily at women, The Wall Street Journal reported. At the events she talks about her early struggles and emphasizes job creation.
"She has been working on her image in the past two years, and it shows," Douglas Schwartz, poll director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, told the Journal. "Connecticut voters like her better today than two years ago."
McMahon has spent about $11.8 million on her run this time compared to Murphy’s $3.1 million.
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