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Quinnipiac Poll: McMahon Leads Shays In Connecticut U.S. Senate Race

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Chris Shays and Linda McMahon (file / credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Richard Messina-Pool/Getty Images)

Chris Shays and Linda McMahon (file / credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Richard Messina-Pool/Getty Images)

HARTFORD, CT (WCBS 880/AP) - Former wrestling executive Linda McMahon would defeat former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays in a probable Republican primary for Connecticut’s U.S. Senate seat if the election were held today, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released Friday.

WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau On The Story

McMahon and Shays have not officially announced their candidacies, but are expected to do so in the coming weeks.

The telephone survey of 1,230 registered voters, conducted Sept. 8-14, shows McMahon leading Shays, 50 percent to 35 percent. McMahon was the GOP candidate for Senate in 2010 but lost to now-Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, after spending about $50 million.

“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,” said Pollster Doug Schwartz.

While McMahon is better known than Shays, who represented the 4th Congressional District in southwest Connecticut for more than 20 years, the polling shows “not many voters have a good opinion of her,” Schwartz said.

The same poll shows McMahon losing to the two leading Democratic candidates for Senate, U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy and former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz. Murphy holds a 49 percent to 38 percent edge over McMahon while Bysiewicz has a 46 percent to 38 percent advantage.

There is some bad news for McMahon in this poll. She has the highest negatives, a problem that has followed her since her matchup with Blumenthal.

“She does especially poorly among women. We said in the last campaign that women were especially turned off  by her wrestling background,” Schwartz told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau.

In the Democratic primary, Murphy holds the lead. Thirty-six percent of registered Democrats said they’d vote for the congressman, while 26 support Bysiewicz and 1 percent back state Rep. William Tong, D-Stamford.

“There is a lot of room for movement because about a third of Democrats are undecided,” Schwartz said.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, who has held the seat since 1989, has announced he will not seek a fifth term.

The same poll shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leading the pack of Republican presidential contenders in Connecticut. He garners 37 percent of the GOP vote, followed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry with 19 percent and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann at 8 percent. However, in a potential general election match-up with President Barack Obama, the Democratic president tops Romney, 49 to 36 percent, and Perry, 52 to 33 percent.

Despite that advantage, Obama receives only a split approval in Connecticut, with 48 percent of voters approving of the job he’s doing as president and 48 percent disapproving.

The survey, which involved questioners calling landlines and cell phones, has margin of sampling error of 5.4 percentage points among the Republican participants and 2.8 percentage points for all voters surveyed.

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(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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