Is Linda McMahon costing the GOP a Senate seat?

While talking on set with Gov. Dannel Malloy during today’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” host Joe Scarborough implied Republican Senate nominee Linda McMahon is a less viable general election candidate than former congressman Christopher Shays — and that she was less viable in 2010 than ex-congressman Rob Simmons.

” At the end of the cycle, you’re going to look at Lind McMahon and say she cost the Republicans two seats in the U.S. Senate,” Scarborough said.

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, who was also on set, seconded the sentiment put forth by Scarborough, comparing the Connecticut race to 2010 races in states like Delaware, where the Republicans threw away an opportunity to pick up a seat when Tea Party favorite Christine O’Donnel upset U.S. Rep. and former Gov. Mike Castle in the GOP primary.

O’Donnel, as you may recall, was bogged down during the campaign by having to explain to reporters that she wasn’t a witch.

She lost the general election in a 57-40 landslide to Democrat Chris Coons, taking a near-certain GOP pickup and turning it into a hold for the Democrats that enabled the Dems to narrowly retain their Senate majority.

Several recent polls, though, suggest two things that contradict Scarborough and Mitchell’s implications:

McMahon is NOT Connecticut’s Christine O’Donnel, and Shays certainly isn’t Connecticut’s Mike Castle.

The last Quinnipiac poll conducted before the state’s Aug. 14 primary actually showed McMahon running closer with Murphy (down three points in a general election matchup) than Shays (down seven).

Poll director Douglas Schwartz said at the time that McMahon had effectively taken away Shays’ claim that he was the more electable candidate.

“Unlike in our last poll, McMahon would be a stronger candidate than Shays against Murphy,” Schwartz said.

And McMahon’s standing in polls by both Quinnipiac and Rasmussen Reports show the Greenwich resident with a three-point lead over Murphy, who has been heavily out-spent and lacks name recognition outside the fifth congressional district.

Ben Doody