A new UConn/Courant Poll shows Democrat Chris Murphy with a 6-percentage point lead over Republican Linda McMahon in the U.S. Senate race, fueled by an increase in support from women. He leads, 44 percent to 38 percent, with 17 percent undecided.

The poll found McMahon dominating the eastern and western thirds of the state, but Murphy with a lead in the more populous central third, covering the heavily Demcratic Hartford and New Haven regions.

The survey of 574 voters was taken from Oct. 11 to 16. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Unlike other recent polls, the UConn survey shows Murphy with a strong favorable rating. Forty percent of respondents said they had a favorable opinion, while 34 percent had an unfavorable opinion. McMahon’s favorable/unfavorable split was 42 percent to 39 percent.

Republicans complained that the last UConn poll’s sample was too light on unaffiliated voters, who outnumber both Democrats and Republicans in Connecticut. In the new poll, the sample was 50 percent Democrats, 16 percent unaffiliated and 34 percent Republicans.

By comparison, the last Quinnipiac University poll had a sample that was 34 percent Democrats, 38 percent unaffiliated and 23 percent Republicans.

McMahon leads among unaffiliateds in the UConn poll, 44 percent to 32 percent, so an undercount of unaffiliateds could significantly skew the results.

The UConn poll also has a much higher undecided vote. Quinnipiac University, for example, pushes undecided respondents to say towards whom they are leaning, and the leaners are added to the total.

The last Quinnipiac poll found McMahon leading by a single point, 48 percent to 47 percent. It was released Oct. 4, three days before the first of three debates between McMahon and Murphy. The fourth and final debate is today.

UConn went into the field on Oct. 11, the same day as the second debate and finished its calls on the 16th, the day before the third debate.  The polling occurred while Murphy mounted a major push to portray McMahon as weaker on women’s issues, especially abortion and reproductive health.

The poll found Murphy leading among women, 50 percent to 32 percent, and McMahon leading among men, 45 percent to 37 percent.

For the first time the race, television advertising was roughly equal during the polling period. McMahon still heavily outspent Murphy on TV, but Murphy was assisted with ads run by outside groups.

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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