A new poll by Rasmussen Reports shows Democratic US Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal's supposedly impenetrable ratings among Connecticut voters dropping dramatically, and support for at least one GOP challenger soaring.
While Blumenthal's popularity is dropping like a rock, former US Congressman Rob Simmons is surging, narrowing the gap between his campaign and Blumenthal's to an entirely manageable 14 points. The Rasmussen poll shows Blumenthal at 52 percent to Simmons' 38 percent, a 6-point drop for Blumenthal and a corresponding 6-point increase for Simmons in the last month.
This is bad news for Blumenthal, currently the state Attorney General and arguably the best known politician in the state, because thus far Simmons has not been advertising to the general public at all. Rather, he is focusing his efforts on the local Republican Town Committees and convention delegates who will be selecting their preferred candidate for the US Senate race at the state convention in May.
This also is not good news for Simmons' main GOP opponent, Linda McMahon, co-owner of World Wrestling Entertainment, who is five points behind Simmons in the Rasmussen poll, with voters giving Simmons a significant edge in his ability to defeat Blumenthal.
McMahon's unfavorable ratings also are climbing dramatically. Her overall unfavorable rating now stands at 45%, with 27% "very" unfavorable. Pollsters and campaign professionals say the "very unfavorable" number is key in terms of measuring the intensity of opposition to her, and how many voters she has little to no chance of winning over. Her "very unfavorable" number has been marching upward steadily from 14% in February, to 21% in March, to 27% now.
What's worse, especially from the standpoint of the McMahon camp, is that her campaign's first-quarter 2010 financial report shows that she has spent $14 million dollars thus far, $8 million of it in the last three months, in a massive advertising blitz to convince Connecticut voters that she is a viable GOP candidate.
McMahon's campaign seems to be heading in the direction of the vast majority of other self-funded candidates who throw millions upon millions of their own dollars into vanity campaigns, only to lose on election day. In Connecticut, Democrat Ned Lamont's woebegone campaign against Sen. Joseph Lieberman comes to mind.
Simmons meanwhile, is raising considerably less, but is using it far more effectively and his money is coming from more than ten thousand individual voters who certainly will be there for him in November.
Despite her lavish spending, however, McMahon also has increasingly come under scrutiny from the mainstream media. In fact three issues that could certainly have an impact in future polls surfaced in state newspapers last week. These included allegations of interfering with a 1990's federal investigation of World Wrestling Entertainment which she owns with her husband; inaccurate answers to a questionnaire she filled out for Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell before Rell appointed her to the state Board of Education last year (including getting her college major wrong); and lesser issues of hypocrisy in her claim to be a political outsider when she has spent millions on top-of-the-line Washington lobbying firms to press her issues in the nation's Capitol.
McMahon also is the object of continuing ridicule over the name of her luxury yacht the Sexy B**ch! I use the asterisks, but the second word is spelled out on her yacht.
It would seem that McMahon's inability to buy the hearts and minds of Connecticut's voters is weighing heavily on her campaign. This was apparent considering the haste with which she issued a press release touting a fluff piece done on her by the New York Times this week, two days after the Rasmussen Report was issued.
The Times article, which primarily discussed Blumenthal's gaffes and weaknesses, also anointed McMahon as the GOP candidate who will face him, not mentioning Simmons even though he leads her in the latest poll.
However, considering The Times' reputation among many conservative voters as a despicable left-wing rag and propaganda tool for far-left national Democrats that delights in exposing our armed forces and intelligence agents to potential harm, McMahon's decision to promote the Times' back-handed endorsement may not have been a smart move.
It is far too early to make any predictions about where all this is headed. We are talking about politics after all and many things can and do happen with great haste and frequency.
But I will point out that of the three front-runners for their respective party's nomination, Simmons, McMahon and Blumenthal, only Simmons has regularly been through the wringer of voter examination and emerged with his career intact.
Blumenthal has not had a serious challenge to his status as Attorney General in more than a decade, possibly two. Linda McMahon has never run for public office and there are strong indications that the media has only scratched the surface of issues that could further erode her support among likely voters.
As the polls are showing, Blumenthal is not invincible. But if the New York Times is successful in pressing McMahon as its chosen candidate, he at least will be able to counter any charges she lodges against him, with counter-charges of his own against her. It is unlikely that she will be able to overcome his long-term popularity, even if his margin is slipping.
Simmons on the other hand, has been through a series of brutal campaigns, winning eight out of nine, despite Democratic voter registrations that always favored his opponent in his district.
If Simmons faces Blumenthal, the campaign will have to focus on real issues, which would be great for the voters, but not so great for Blumenthal. Then again, the New York Times and other liberal news outlets already know that.
Friday, April 16, 2010