QPoll: McMahon expands lead in GOP primary; closes gap in general

Former professional wrestling executive Linda McMahon leads former U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays 59%-30% in the Republican primary for Connecticut’s U.S. Senate seat, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday. This compares to a 51%-42% McMahon lead back on March 22.

In the Democratic Senate primary, U.S. Rep. Christopher Murphy leads former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz 50%-20%, the independent Quinnipiac University poll finds. This compares to a 37%-25% Murphy lead March 22.

In possible November matchups, according to the poll:

• Murphy gets 46% to McMahon’s 43%, compared to a 52%-37% Murphy lead March 22;

• Murphy beats Shays 45%- 37%, compared to a 41%-40% tie March 22;

• McMahon edges Bysiewicz 46-42%, reversing a 49-39% Bysiewicz lead March 22;

• Shays gets 44% to Bysiewicz’ 40%, compared to a 43%-42% tie March 22.

• The McMahon-Murphy match-up features a reverse gender gap as men back McMahon 48%-44%, while women back Murphy 47%-38%.

• Murphy leads 55%-35% among voters with a college degree while McMahon leads 48%- 40% among voters without a degree.

“Linda McMahon is now the clear front runner for the GOP nod, crushing Congressmen Christopher Shays by 29 points, after having led Shays by only 9 points back in March,” said Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz, PhD. “It is hard to see how Shays can overcome such a large lead by primary day, Aug. 14.”

“McMahon also is doing better against Congressman Chris Murphy, the front runner for the Democratic nomination,” he added. “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% of these key voters, to Murphy’s 41%, overcoming a 15-point deficit in March,” Dr. Schwartz added.

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

“McMahon has been dominating the airwaves and it appears to be paying off.”

Connecticut voters have a 45%-38% favorable opinion of McMahon, with 16% who haven’t heard enough about her to form an opinion. This is an improvement from March when her favorability rating was a negative 40%-44%.

Voters have a 37%-17% favorable opinion of Murphy, but 46% haven’t heard enough about him, little changed from March.

“McMahon also is benefiting from a huge name recognition advantage after her 2010 Senate campaign. The other three candidates are unknown to over 40% of the electorate,” Schwartz said.

The poll also asked voters if they think the World Wrestling Entertainment product is pornography: 56% disagreed it was pornography; 10% said it was; 33% had no opinion. McMahon is a founder and former CEO of WWE, which is based in Stamford.

Presidential race & state government

President Barack Obama leads Gov. Mitt Romney, the Republican challenger, 50%-38%, including 48%-42% among men, 52%-35% among women and 45%-35% among independent voters.

President Obama gets a 53%-43% approval rating and a 52%-41% favorability rating. Romney gets a negative 34%-42% favorability rating.

“While President Barack Obama has a comfortable double digit lead over Gov. Mitt Romney, McMahon is running in a close race against Murphy. 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,” Schwartz said.

Connecticut voters disapprove 47%-44% of the job Gov. Dannel Malloy is doing, compared to a 44%-37% disapproval in an April 25 poll.

Voters also disapprove of the state legislature by 51%-35%. Republicans give the Democratic-controlled General Assembly a 71%-18% disapproval rating; Democrats are on the other side, giving it a 53%-31% approval rating. The 51% disapproval rating is the highest since the General Assembly had a 57% negative rating in September 2011.

Outgoing U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, whose seat is up this fall, has a 50%-39% approval rating. Connecticut’s junior U.S. senator, Richard Blumenthal, has a 61%-25% approval rating.

From May 29-June 3, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,408 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.6%. Live interviewers call landlines and cell phones. The survey includes 381 Republicans with a margin of error of +/- 5% and 538 Democrats with a margin of error of +/- 4.2%.

The Quinnipiac University Poll conducts public opinion surveys in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, and the nation as a public service and for research.

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