Richard Blumenthal has regained a serious lead on Linda McMahon in Connecticut's Senate race.
A Quinnipiac University poll just released Thursday finds the Democratic nominee leading his GOP rival by 11 points, 54 percent to 43 percent, among likely voters. A Quinnipiac poll just two weeks ago found Blumenthal and McMahon virtually tied in the race.
What's behind Blumenthal's resurgence? For one thing, he's gained back support among self-described independent voters, who had previously been favoring McMahon. According to Quinnipiac, Blumenthal now leads among independents, 49 percent to McMahon's 44 percent. He has also opened a commanding lead among women, leading McMahon 63 percent to 32 percent.
At the same time, McMahon's unfavorable rating has gone up. Likely voters in the state are now equally split on whether they like her or not — a number that probably won't be helped by Blumenthal's latest line of attack on McMahon for her ties to World Wrestling Entertainment, the company she once chaired.
At their final debate Tuesday, Blumenthal, who had initially shied away from talking about the WWE, slammed McMahon for what he said was the company's marketing of sex and violence to children. And for the first time, the Democrat mentioned the recent deaths of former WWE performers -- all of whom had been plagued by drug addiction including the use of steroids. "There have been seven dead wrestlers since she started this campaign," Blumenthal said.
In response, McMahon accused Blumenthal of attacking the WWE out of "desperation" because he had no answers on how to create jobs and better the economy in the state. A spokesman later attacked Blumenthal over the WWE comments, noting that the Democrat, who now serves as the state attorney general, had never raised concerns about the company until recently.
But even if Blumenthal scaled back the WWE attacks, McMahon still can't escape the bad publicity. The Hartford Courant fronts a damaging story Thursday about substance abuse within the WWE, asking whether McMahon turned a blind eye to the problems. The story, written by Daniela Altimari, includes an interview with the father of Lance McNaught (also known as Lance Cade), a former WWE performer who died in August of heart failure after struggling with addiction.
McNaught takes aim at McMahon's "experience" argument in the race. "She can tout anything she wants during her time as CEO," Harley McNaught tells the Courant. "It's all about the money. They don't care about these kids. … These kids are nothing more than dollar signs."
(Pool photo of Blumenthal and McMahon: Dana Jensen/AP)