Sometimes narrative is everything in political campaigns.
And for a few weeks now the narrative about the race for U.S. Senate in Connecticut has been that Republican Linda McMahon has made Democrat Chris Murphy her… um… there’s a term I’m searching for… tip of my tongue…
Well, the narrative has been McMahon’s run a really good, very aggressive, self-funded campaign and in some polls has made a race in a reliably blue state too close to call by defining the still unknown Murphy before he can introduce himself to voters.
Today’s new data from Public Policy Polling provides a bit of relief to the Murphy camp.
It also refutes findings in earlier polls that McMahon, who during her first run for Senate in 2010 had problems with women, has dealt with that liability.
Murphy leads by 6 in CT-Senate race
PPP’s newest poll of the Connecticut Senate race finds Democrat Chris Murphy expanding his lead to 6 points over Republican foe Linda McMahon, 48-42. Last month he led 48-44.
There’s no doubt Murphy’s image has taken a hit over the course of this campaign. Only 36% of voters say they have a favorable opinion of him to 44% with a negative one. That’s down a net 15 points from July when he was at a 38/31 favorability spread. But voters aren’t warming up to McMahon either- she has a 42% favorability rating with 49% of voters seeing her unfavorably, numbers basically identical to 42/48 a couple months ago. McMahon’s done a good job of hitting Murphy but she hasn’t done anything to prop herself up and in a race between an unpopular Democratic candidate and an unpopular Republican candidate in a state like Connecticut the Democrat is going to win.
The key question we asked on this poll was probably whether people wanted Democrats or Republicans in control of the Senate, and by a 50/38 margin folks say they want the Democrats in charge. That reality should help Murphy along as well.
McMahon actually leads the race with independents, 51-38. Her problem is that 20% of Republicans are supporting Murphy over her, similar to what we found her losing to Richard Blumenthal in 2010. You simply can’t win as a Republican in Connecticut without holding your party base in line to a greater extent than that, but many GOP voters continue to find her unacceptable.
2 other notes from Connecticut:
-One thing that would help McMahon is poor turnout from Democrats. But 59% of Democrats say they’re ‘very excited’ to vote, compared to 56% of Republicans. There doesn’t appear to be a pro-GOP enthusiasm gap.
-The wrestling stuff certainly doesn’t help McMahon. 17% of voters in the state have a favorable opinion of WWE to 51% with a negative opinion.
UPDATE: McMahon does a little parade-raining:
McMahon Campaign Statement on New PPP Poll Numbers
NORTH HAVEN, CT – Linda McMahon for Senate 2012 campaign manager Corry Bliss issued the following statement today in response to the latest polling numbers from Public Policy Polling (PPP):
“While all polls are just a snapshot in time, PPP’s newest findings in Connecticut’s U.S. Senate race must be noted for what they are: Democratic numbers from a Democratic polling firm. In an effort to resurrect his failing campaign, Congressman Murphy’s Washington cronies have recently given him money, staffers, and now brand new poll results. Despite this concerted rescue effort by Washington insiders, nothing will change the fact that Chris Murphy is a dishonest career politician who is continuing to cover up his growing ethics scandal and has no plan to put Connecticut back to work.”
UPDATE: Team Murphy obviously sees things a little differently…
“Just like we saw in 2010 when Linda McMahon spent $50 million trying to lie and smear her way to victory against Senator Blumenthal, the more Connecticut voters learn about her troubling past at the WWE and right-wing Republican policies, the less they like her,” said Eli Zupnick, a spokesman for the Chris Murphy campaign. “As this campaign moves into the final stretch, Connecticut voters are going to continue seeing right through Linda McMahon’s lies and political attack ads, and they are going to hear a lot more about her record as a CEO who laid off workers while taking multi-million dollar bonuses, her plans to cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires like her while slashing education and asking the middle class to pay more, and her support for the extreme Republican plan to allow employers to deny coverage for birth control, mammograms, and cervical cancer screenings to their female employees.”