A new poll shows that Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Richard Blumenthal is weathering his military-record controversy and that Republican Linda McMahon’s candidacy is provoking doubts among Connecticut voters.

A Quinnipiac University poll released today has Blumenthal leading McMahon, 56 percent to 31 percent, a modest tightening of the race since the university’s last poll in March, when his lead was 61 percent to 28 percent.

A majority of voters, 54 percent, say they believe Blumenthal’s explanation that he misspoke on occasion about his Vietnam-era service record, while 38 percent say he lied when referring to service in Vietnam. He was a stateside Marine Reservist during the war.

“It looks like Connecticut voters forgive Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, or feel that there is nothing to forgive in the Vietnam service flap.  While he has taken a hit with voters, his poll numbers were so high to begin with that he still maintains a commanding lead over Linda McMahon,” said Douglas Schwartz, the poll’s director.

More troubling for McMahon, the former chief executive officer of World Wrestling Entertainment, is that voters still find Blumenthal more trustworthy, despite disclosures that he had misrepresented his military service in a half-dozen public appearance.

“What is surprising is that McMahon gets no bounce from her Republican convention victory.  Her negatives went up 13 points from 26 percent unfavorable to 39 percent unfavorable.  The more voters get to know McMahon the less they like her,” Schwartz said.

Thirty-three percent of voters say that Blumenthal’s statements about his Vietnam era military service make them less likely to vote for him, but 61 percent say it doesn’t make a difference.

The poll was conducted on May 25 and 25. The survey of  1,159 Connecticut registered voters has a margin of error of plus or minus  2.9 percentage points. They were in the field for a day when Republican Rob Simmons ended his primary campaign, leaving McMahon, for the moment, as the only Republican. Peter Schiff is petitioning to force a primary.

McMahon was favored by 49 percent of Republicans, followed by Simmons with 23 percent and Schiff with 11 percent. Fifteen percent were undecided.

McMahon won a dramatic convention victory over Simmons, a former three-term congressman who tried to convince delegates that McMahon was unelectable. Simmons exited the race Tuesday morning, saying he could not compete with McMahon’s money.

She has contributed $16 million to her campaign and has promised to spend $50 million of her own fortune. McMahon never has run for office.

Schwartz said Blumenthal, who was elected attorney general in 1990, leads on every character measure.

  • 76 – 15 percent that Blumenthal has the right kind of experience to be a U.S. Senator;
  • 52 – 29 percent that McMahon does not have the experience;
  • 60 – 27 percent that he is honest and trustworthy;
  • 45 – 24 percent, with 31 percent undecided, that McMahon is honest and trustworthy;
  • 69 – 21 percent that Blumenthal cares about their needs and problems;
  • 45 – 33 percent, with 22 percent undecided, that she cares;
  • 73 – 19 percent that he has strong leadership qualities;
  • 54 – 23 percent, with 24 percent undecided that McMahon has strong leadership.

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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