Congressman Chris Murphy attends a lot of events in Waterbury and is pictured here receiving an endorsement for the U.S. Senate from the Connecticut firefighters. Photographs by John Murray

Linda McMahon recently paid a visit to a youth blogging program at Waterbury Youth Services.

  Former wrestling executive Linda McMahon thumps former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays 50 – 35 percent in an early look at the 2012 Republican primary for the Connecticut U.S. Senate seat, but she trails either of two possible Democratic candidates, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. McMahon leads 54 – 37 percent among Republican men and 47 – 32 percent among women.

   In the Democratic Senate primary, U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy leads former Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz 36 – 26 percent, with 35 percent undecided, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. Murphy leads 43 – 25 percent among men and 31 – 26 percent among women.

   In possible 2012 general election matchups: Murphy tops McMahon 49 – 38 percent; Bysiewicz beats McMahon 46 – 38 percent; Murphy beats Shays 43 – 37 percent; Shays gets 42 percent to Bysiewicz’ 40 percent.


   “While Connecticut has never had a woman United States Senator, there are two formidable women in the running as 2012 promises to be an interesting year on the statewide political scene,” said Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz, PhD.

  “In the Democratic primary, U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy leads former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz by 10 points, but it is very early. There is a lot of room for movement because about a third of Democrats are undecided, reflecting the large percentages who don’t have an opinion of either candidate.”

   “In the Republican primary, Linda McMahon’s name recognition advantage over former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays helps give her an early 15 point lead – before she turns on the vaunted McMahon money machine,” Dr. Schwartz added.

   “McMahon is much better known than Shays, but she doesn’t run as well in the general election. And not many voters have a good opinion of her.”

   By a 45 – 38 percent margin, voters have an unfavorable opinion of McMahon. Favorability ratings for other candidates are:


   • 41 – 14 percent favorable for Shays with 44 percent who don’t know enough about him to form an opinion;

   • 39 – 27 percent favorable for Bysiewicz with 33 percent who don’t know enough;

   • 38 – 16 percent favorable for Murphy with 45 percent who don’t know enough.

   Connecticut voters are divided 48 – 48 percent on President Barack Obama’s job approval, down from 53 – 44 percent approval June 15 and the president’s lowest grade ever in the state. There is a large gender gap as women approve 52 – 42 percent while men disapprove 54 – 43 percent. By a slim 49 – 46 percent, voters say the president deserves reelection.

   Among Republicans, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads the pack with 37 percent, followed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry with 19 percent, Minnesota U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann at 8 percent and no other candidate above 4 percent.

   In 2012 general election matchups, Obama tops Perry 52 – 33 percent and beats Romney 49 – 36 percent. In both races, the president carries independent voters, 45 – 33 percent over Perry and 41 – 37 percent over Romney.

   “President Barack Obama getting only a 48 – 48 percent approval rating in blue Connecticut shows just how far the president has fallen. But despite the president’s split approval rating, he still beats the leading Republican contenders,” Schwartz said.

   From September 8 – 13, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,230 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points. Live interviewers call landlines and cell phones. The survey includes 332 Republicans with a margin of error of +/- 5.4 percentage points and 447 Democrats with a margin of error of +/- 4.6 percentage points

   The Quinnipiac University Poll conducts public opinion surveys in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, and the nation as a public service and for research. For more data or RSS feed-, call (203) 582-5201, or follow us on Twitter.