For the past few weeks the news for Senate Democrats has been mostly positive, but the closeness of the open Senate race in Connecticut is the rare piece of very good news for Republicans. The latest Quinnipiac poll of the state shows Republican Linda McMahon with a one point lead over Democrat Chris Murphy. From Quinnipiac:
The Connecticut U.S. Senate race is essentially tied up, with 48 percent of likely voters for Republican Linda McMahon and 47 percent for Democratic U.S. Rep. Christopher Murphy, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. [...]
Men back McMahon 52 – 45 percent, while women back Murphy 50 – 44 percent. Independent voters go Republican 52 – 43 percent.
By a 45 – 41 percent margin, Connecticut voters have a favorable opinion of McMahon, compared to 47 – 35 percent August 28. Murphy gets a negative 36 – 40 percent favorability rating, down from a 38 – 30 percent positive score in August.
This would be a big win for Republicans given the strong Democratic leanings of the state and the fact that Obama has a 12 point lead over Romney in Connecticut. McMahon is dramatically overperforming compared with other Republicans nationally, and she clearly has improved as a candidate since 2010.
If Republicans take this Connecticut seat, that would help make up for likely losses elsewhere, and would modestly improve their chances of actually taking the Senate this year. With most voters turned off by the idea of divided government, Murphy might need to take a page from Elizabeth Warren’s playbook and try to make this election about which party will control the Senate, instead of a contest between two individuals.
Surprisingly, Connecticut may turn out to be the closest Senate election this year.