Q-Poll: Murphy opens up lead over McMahon, McMahon camp questions poll

UPDATED WEDNESDAY 11:10 A.M. — According to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, women and older voters are shifting away from Linda McMahon, the Republican candidate in Connecticut’s U.S. Senate race, giving U.S. Rep. Christopher Murphy, the Democrat, a 49-43% likely voter lead.

This compares to the results of an Oct. 4 survey by Quinnipiac University, showing Ms. McMahon, a Greenwich, with a 48- 47% lead. In the latest results, released Wednesday, Oct. 24, women back Mr. Murphy 52-38%, compared to 50-44% 20 days ago. Men are at 50-46% for Ms. McMahon compared to 52-45% earlier. Voters older than 55 years old shifted from a 48-48% split earlier this month to 51-42% for Mr. Murphy.

 

A total of 62% of Connecticut likely voters have a “strongly unfavorable” or “somewhat unfavorable” opinion of this Senate race in general.

However, no one is likely popping any champagne at Murphy headquarters as the polling also shows that the race remains extremely fluid. The data says that 11% of Murphy voters and 14% of McMahon voters say they might change their mind in the next 13 days before Election Day on Nov. 6. And this poll comes on the heels of Rasmussen Reports releasing data this week showing Mr. Murphy with only a one point lead over Ms. McMahon. While Rasmussen is regarded as a Republican-leaning poll, this shows a decreased lead for Mr. Murphy from five points earlier this month and fits in with other data showing that this is a neck and neck race entering the home stretch. Additionally a poll from Mason-Dixon showed the race all knotted up at 44% apiece for Mr. Murphy and Ms. McMahon.

In a statement Wednesday morning, the Murphy campaign was naturally in a good mood.

“After losing four debates and seeing the momentum shift strongly toward Chris, Linda McMahon is now relying completely on stale, desperate, and dishonest political attacks to distract voters from her extreme right-wing positions,” said Murphy campaign spokesman Ben Marter. “Chris Murphy has continued to strengthen his lead by focusing on the issues that matter to Connecticut’s middle class, and working families across the state are rejecting McMahon’s lies, smears, and right-wing policies just like they did two years ago.”

The McMahon campaign quickly responded to the poll as well, noting that others showed a far closer race.

“Yesterday two respected national polling firms, Rasmussen and Mason-Dixon, showed the Connecticut Senate race is a dead heat,” said McMahon campaign manager Corry Bliss said on Wednesday. “We know that Linda’s message is resonating with voters across Connecticut. We have the momentum and energy behind our campaign to win. Democrats and Independents are making up their minds to vote for Linda. Rasmussen showed Independents supporting Linda 2-to-1.

Mr. Bliss added, “Congressman Murphy has nothing new to offer Connecticut. If he’s sent back to Washington with a promotion, you can count on him voting to increase taxes on the middle class and increasing our debt. Linda McMahon will lower taxes for the middle class and take her six-point jobs plan with her to Washington and that is resonating with the voters. Linda is going to continue talking with the people of Connecticut about jobs and the economy and how we can make things better.

In a second release, issued later Wednesday morning, Mr. Bliss questioned the data used in the poll, calling it “misleading” while wondering if the college had skewed the poll toward Mr. Murphy.

“The model Quinnipiac used underestimates how many Republicans are in Connecticut by six points,” Mr. Bliss claimed. “In 2008, 27% of Connecticut’s voters were Republicans, but only 21% of the voters sampled in this morning’s Quinnipiac poll were Republicans. That six-point gap accounts for the six points they say Linda is ‘behind.’ Did Quinnipiac intentionally undersample Republicans to help Congressman Murphy? Only Quinnipiac knows for sure.”

The Post will have full coverage of the race in its Oct. 25 edition with extended versions of articles covering Ms. McMahon’s campaign appearances with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Mr. Murphy’s interview with the Post appearing online at Greenwich-post.com.

But while the polls are still tight, Democrats might be breathing a little easier given the results from Quinnipiac.

“It’s déjà vu all over again in the Connecticut Senate race. As we hit the final stretch of the campaign, Linda McMahon is beginning to fade, as she did in her 2010 run against Richard Blumenthal,” Douglas Schwartz, director of the Quinnipiac University poll, said Wednesday morning. “Has she hit her ceiling? She took 43% of the vote in 2010, losing by 12 points to Blumenthal. Two weeks before the election, she is back at 43%.”

Connecticut likely voters say 47-42% that Mr. Murphy better understands their economic problems. If she wins, voters say 55-36% that Ms. McMahon would favor the wealthy over the middle class and that Mr. Murphy would favor the middle class by a 70-14% margin.

“Murphy has taken the lead in the Senate race in part because more voters now believe he understands their economic problems better than McMahon,” Dr. Schwartz said.

Still, voters have a mixed opinion of Mr. Murphy, with 39% favorable and 39% unfavorable, compared to a negative 36-40% favorability three weeks ago. Ms. McMahon gets a negative 41-47% favorability, down from a 45-41% positive on Oct. 4.

“One of McMahon’s key strengths had been that voters liked her more than Murphy,” Dr. Schwartz said. “Voters are evenly divided on Murphy but have a net negative opinion of McMahon. After improving her image from two years ago, her favorability rating has fallen back to about where she was in 2010. After being neck and neck among voters over 55, Murphy has opened up a 9-point lead among this age group. This could be in part due to Murphy’s 16-point advantage among this age group on who would do a better job on Medicare and Social Security, which have become hot issues in this campaign.”

Quinnipiac also took a look at the presidential race, showing that President Barack Obama has also opened up a big lead over Republican Mitt Romney for Connecticut’s seven electoral votes, according to the same poll. In the data, Mr. Obama buries Mr. Romney in the run for the White House, leading 55-41%, compared to 54-42% on the poll released Oct. 4.

Mr. Obama leads 60-36% among women and gets 49% of men to Mr. Romney’s 46%. The President leads among every subgroup except Republicans. And unlike the Senate race, the data does not show a lot of fluidity. Only 5% of Romney voters and 6% of Obama voters say they might change their mind.

“President Barack Obama is running stronger than Murphy in Connecticut, holding steady with a 14 point lead over Gov. Mitt Romney. The President’s coattails are helping Murphy,” Dr. Schwartz said.

From October 19-22, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,412 likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percentage points. Live interviewers call landlines and cell phones.

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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