With the primaries fast approaching in the Connecticut Senate race Chris Murphy and Linda McMahon look like strong favorites to win their party's respective nominations.
The Republican contest is pretty much over. Linda McMahon leads Chris Shays by a remarkable 48 point margin, 68-20. GOP voters flat out dislike Shays, with only 37% rating him favorably to 40% with a negative opinion. That's pretty unusual to see in a primary. McMahon leads Shays 67-25 even with moderate voters, a group he ostensibly should have done well with. With voters describing themselves as 'very conservative' the gap expands to 63 points with McMahon ahead 76-13.
The Democratic contest is closer but Chris Murphy is still a clear favorite there, leading Susan Bysiewicz by 17 points at 49-32. That's up from a 6 point lead when PPP last looked at the contest in September and found Murphy ahead 39-33. Murphy is leading with voters in every ideological group we track across the Democratic spectrum, is up with both men and women (44-34), and is particularly strong with younger voters (52-25).
Murphy will start out as the favorite in his likely general election contest with McMahon. He leads her 50-42, almost identical to his 50-43 advantage over her on our last poll ten months ago. While McMahon is popular with the GOP base, she does not have good numbers with the overall electorate. 42% of voters rate her favorably to 48% with an unfavorable opinion. Murphy is not as well known yet but generally seen positively by the voters who are familiar with him. 38% rate him positively while 31% have a negative opinion.
One thing interesting about the numbers on this race is that McMahon actually leads Murphy 53-36 with independent voters. Her problem is that she's getting only 74% of the Republican vote, with 19% of GOP voters crossing over to support Murphy. We see very few races anywhere these days where a Democrat's getting 19% of the Republican vote and it's an indication that McMahon is simply unacceptable to some voters within the party. By comparison Murphy's at 82% of the Democratic vote.
Democrats will go into the general election favored to win this race. It might be closer than they'd like in Connecticut but Murphy has the clear advantage for both the primary and general.
Full results here