CT-SEN Snapshot: Did McMahon peak too soon?

The bad news for Republican Linda McMahon: five of the last six polls conducted in Connecticut’s topsy-turvy Senate race give the edge to her opponent, Democratic Congressman Chris Murphy.

Murphy leads the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) co-founder by as many as 6 points in the latest Quinnipiac University poll, released Wednesday, and as little as a single point in an Oct. 21 poll by the right-leaning Rasmussen Reports.

The average lead for Murphy, as measured by the website Real Clear Politics, is now at 3.1 percentage points, up from 2 points last week.

The Mason-Dixon poll, which surveyed likely voters from Oct. 15 to Oct. 17, showed the race knotted at 44 percent.

McMahon’s campaign immediately questioned the methodology of the latest Q-poll Wednesday, trotting out its own Republican pollster John McLaughlin on a hastily-organized conference call with members of the media.

McLaughlin complained that the Q-poll under-sampled Republicans, with only 21 percent of respondents likely GOP voters.

“Republicans at 21 percent doesn’t seem at all like a reasonable model for the upcoming election,” McLaughlin said. “The Republicans are coming out this year. They’re not staying home.”

McLaughlin said that 28 percent of respondents in the Mason-Dixon poll and 30 percent in the Rasmussen poll, both of which show a toss-up race within the margin of error, were likely Republican voters.

“This race is going to be close,” McLaughlin said.

McMahon’s polling guru didn’t stop there, however.

He took the Q-poll staff to task for comments that McMahon was “fading.”

“There’s lines in here where you wonder if there’s an agenda,” McLaughlin said. “You have to wonder, are they trying to affect the outcome?”

When the previous two Q-polls in August and early October showed McMahon with respective leads of 3 percentage points and 1 percentage point, her campaign was silent on the sampling of Republicans.

One trend that has got to be somewhat troubling for McMahon’s advisers is the breakdown of likely female voters in the latest Q-poll, with women breaking for Murphy, 52 to 38 percent.

In 2010, when McMahon lost to Democrat Richard Blumenthal, that split was 60 to 40 percent in favor of the longtime state attorney general.

McMahon has invested substantial time, money and resources closing the gap, which Quinnipiac showed to be 6 points at the beginning of October.

“A lot of that has to do with partisan breaks,” McLaughlin said of the latest poll numbers of likely female voters.

Neil Vigdor