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Poll: McMahon Leads Shays In Conn. U.S. Senate Race

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Linda McMahon (file / credit: Richard Messina-Pool/Getty Images)

Linda McMahon (file / credit: Richard Messina-Pool/Getty Images)

HARTFORD, CT (AP / CBSNewYork) - A new poll shows former wrestling executive Linda McMahon still leading in Connecticut’s Republican Senate primary, but former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays has gained some ground and fares better against potential Democratic challengers in a general election.

WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau On The Story

The Quinnipiac University survey, released Thursday, shows McMahon leading Shays, 51 percent to 42 percent, or nine percentage points. Six percent are undecided. A September 2011 poll showed McMahon leading Shays 50 percent to 35 percent, or 15 percentage points. Lesser-known candidates for the Republican endorsement were not included in the poll.

“The question is whether (Shays) can catch up by primary day, Aug. 14,” poll director Douglas Schwartz said.

In a potential general election matchup, Shays nearly ties U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, the leading Democrat. The poll shows Murphy with 41 percent of the vote, compared to Shays with 40 percent. In contrast, Murphy leads McMahon, 52 percent to 37 percent.

In a matchup with former Democratic Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, Shays garners 43 percent of the vote, compared to 42 percent for Bysiewicz. Versus state Rep. William Tong, Shays leads 50 percent to 25 percent.

In contrast, Bysiewicz bests McMahon, 49 percent to 39 percent, while McMahon leads Tong, 43 percent to 39 percent.

The candidates are all hoping to fill the seat being vacated by the retiring U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent and former Democrat. A primary is expected for both the Republicans and the Democrats.

“This is about electability. (McMahon) cannot win in a general election; she can’t,” Shays spokeswoman Amanda Bergen said. “Her numbers have gotten worse and her name recognition is basically at 100 percent. So with numbers like that she has nowhere to go.

“We’re just getting better and better and closer and closer.”

A message seeking comment was left with McMahon’s campaign.

On the Democratic side, Murphy continues to hold a double-digit lead over his closest competitor, Bysiewicz. He leads her by a 37 percent to 25 percent margin, or 12 percentage points. In September, his lead was similar, 36 percent to 26 percent. Tong garners four percent of the vote, compared to one percent in September’s poll.

Quinnipiac surveyed 1,622 registered voters from March 14-19. Live interviewers called both landlines and cellphones. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.

The survey includes 429 Republicans. For those questions, the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.7 percentage points. The survey also includes 640 Democrats and the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

What’s your prediction for the race? Sound off in the comments section below!

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 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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