Poll shows Richard Blumenthal fighting back Vietnam War service allegations
The efforts of Richard Blumenthal’s political opponents to ruin his career by casting him as a ‘liar’ for misstating the nature of his Vietnam War-era service appear to have failed, according to a poll out today from Quinnipiac University. The poll hints that Democrats can rest easier that Connecticut will be a safe hold in November.
The poll shows that Blumenthal is beating Republican opponent Linda McMahon of World Wresting Entertainment fame by a 25 percentage point margin (56% to 31%, with a 2.9% margin of error). And it does not appear that allegations that Blumenthal lied about his service have made a severe dent among Connecticut voters according to the AP:
Forty-one percent of voters said the controversy was very important or somewhat important to their vote in the general election, while 57 percent said it was not too important or not important at all.
What the polling shows is that Blumenthal could still lose some ground over the Vietnam War-era service issue, but not enough to lose the election. While the New York Times’s editors were snookered by the McMahon campaign’s opposition research operation into publishing their ‘flawed‘ reports on Blumenthal’s single error, a clear majority of voters have proved themselves smart enough to know that not everything in the Times is fit to print.
McMahon is set to go into a tailspin now that she’s won her party’s nomination. Democrats are succeeding in casting her as a ‘business as usual politician’, which is no small thing when you consider that Blumenthal has more of the guise of an incumbent given his decades of public service. Yet even Rob Simmons, the ex-congressman who sought the Republican nomination against McMahon, is uninterested in backing her, telling the National Review’s Robert Costa yesterday that, “he does not think that Linda McMahon can win in the Nutmeg State. “No, I don’t think so at all,”…. if McMahon asks Simmons for help on the trail, he says he’ll say he is “preoccupied.””
Why is McMahon failing so badly? I’d suggest it’s the result of running a rancorous, negative campaign against Blumenthal. The Republican candidates who have had the most success since 2008 – Governors Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell in New Jersey and Virginia, and Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts – have run campaigns that focused on the issues while avoiding personal attacks on their opponents. They argued that they would more competently run their states, or represent their state’s voters in Washington, casting themselves more as competent pragmatists than curmudgeonly ideologues. They came across as concerned with local issues, which connected with voters as much if not more than their ‘anti-incumbent’ credentials.
On this point, Liz Mair the other day at The Daily Caller offered a useful reminder to GOP politicians, one that Democrats should heed, too:
But congressional and senatorial candidates must remember, they are not running for President or party leader, and Barack Obama’s name is not on the ballot—however much they think that would benefit them. If they want to win, Republican challengers and those vying for open seats must remember who their actual opponent is—and make their campaigns and policies relevant to local voters. Otherwise, they run a significant risk of underperforming in November, and matching, as opposed to exceeding, expectations.
If Blumenthal keeps everything else on the level, all of McMahon’s millions won’t save her at the ballot box.