It’s not every day that a campaign shares internal polling showing its candidate trailing by 13 percentage points.

That’s what Republican Linda McMahon’s U.S. Senate campaign did Tuesday, in an attempt to discredit polls that give Democrat Richard Blumenthal an even bigger lead.

It’s a page from the same playbook used two weeks ago by Blumenthal, when he tried to show that his campaign was not in free fall from disclosures he misstated his military record.

mcmahon wins 3 5-22-10

Endorsed Republican Linda McMahon: Showing off a 13-point deficit

“Voters overwhelmingly in this state believe this is going to be a close election,” said Ed Patru, the communication director for McMahon. “Clearly, we believe that. And Blumenthal’s campaign believes that.”

Trailing by 13 points usually is nothing to celebrate, but it’s better than the 25-point lead Blumenthal had in the most recent Quinnipiac University poll. Or 23 points in a Rasmussen poll.

“To the extent that there’s an appetite for a change in direction out there, I think it makes a difference when people understand this is a close race and their participation in the process will absolutely make a difference,” Patru said.

The McMahon campaign offered its spin with a twist: If you want to validate their poll by Moore Information, compare it to Blumenthal’s by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research.

Greenberg had Blumenthal in the lead by 15 percentage points, 55 percent to 40 percent, according to the Democratic nominee’s campaign.

In a poll of 600 registered voters conducted June 1 to 3, McMahon’s pollster Moore had Blumenthal ahead, 51 percent to 38 percent.

Voters who expressed “strong” support for a candidate favored Blumenthal by 15 percentage points, 39 percent to 24 percent.

Blumenthal’s campaign shared some details two weeks ago, but refused to allow reporters to see the full poll. McMahon allowed a reporter from The Mirror to examine her survey.

Mindy Myers, Blumenthal’s campaign manager, said all the polling shows is that McMahon, who is self-funding her campaign, cannot match Blumenthal’s appeal to Connecticut voters.

“Whether Linda McMahon is down 13 points or 25 points, as independent polling has found, the real number Linda McMahon should be worried about is the $16 million Linda McMahon has already spent. It has only made the people of Connecticut like her less,” Myers said.

“I think it’s important to remember that it’s June. There is a long way to go in this campaign,” Patru said.

The McMahon poll showed that 55 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of Blumenthal and 33 percent view him unfavorably. McMahon was viewed favorably by 40 percent and unfavorably by 32 percent.

Thirty-two percent had a “very favorable” view of Blumenthal and 23 percent a “somewhat favorable” view. McMahon’s “very favorable” number was 13 percent and her “somewhat favorable” was 27 percent.

Sixty-two percent identified the economy and jobs as the most important single issue, followed by 11 percent who named taxes. No other issue had more than single-digit support.

For the next senator, 45 percent named improving the economy and creating jobs as the most important goal, 21 percent named spending and the deficit and 10 percent chose protecting Social Security and Medicare.

The sample was 43 percent unaffiliated or independent, 37 percent Democratic and 19 percent Republican. That approximates the proportions of registered voters in Connecticut.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

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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