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Good News for Blumenthal, Crist in New Polls

In a Tuesday, May 26, 2009 file photo, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announces during a news conference in his office in Hartford, Conn. that he has asked Craigslist to detail its new and stronger policies and procedures for keeping pornography and prostitution off its recently initiated adult services section, including the process for screening ads. AP

New polls from Quinnipiac are showing some good news for Democrat Richard Blumenthal in Connecticut and Independent Charlie Crist in Florida.

In Connecticut, Blumenthal is maintaining a big lead over his Republican challenger, Linda McMahon, in the race for the Senate, despite admitting to exaggerations in his military record. The polls show that voters prefer Blumenthal to McMahon by a 55-35 margin.

But there was also some good news for McMahon, as she has made some headway in what appears to be an uphill battle.

The poll, released today, shows that while McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, may be trailing by double-digits, she managed to cut the lead down from an earlier 56-31 margin.

Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz says the dip may be a response the controversy over Blumenthal's service record.

"Three weeks after the Vietnam flap, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has lost a little more ground to Linda McMahon, but he still has a comfortable lead," said Schwartz. "Prior to the Vietnam controversy, Blumenthal led by 33 points. A week after the controversy, his lead was 25 points. Now it's down to 20 points."

But despite the drop, the poll still shows Blumenthal enjoying a comfortable 59 - 29 favorable/unfavorable rating and that 61 percent of voters say the controversy doesn't make a difference. This perhaps indicates that McMahon's gains are not solely attributed to Blumenthal's gaffe -- more good news for McMahon.

A spike in McMahon's favorability rating, from 32 percent in May to 38 percent in today's poll, and an increase in the number of voters believing that she has the right kind of experience could also be factors in her increased standing in the overall horse-race poll.

In the Florida Senate race, another Quinnipiac poll released yesterday has Republican-turned-Independent Charlie Crist edging out Republican Marco Rubio 37-33 percent and Democrat Rep. Kendrick Meek coming in at 17 percent. If Democrat Jeff Greene defeats Meek in the Democratic primary, the poll gives Crist a 40-33 edge, with Greene coming in at 14 percent.

Charlie Crist
Gov. Charlie Crist announces his veto of Senate Bill 6 concerning teacher tenure and merit pay on Thursday, April 15, 2010, in Tallahassee, Fla. Already trailing badly in the GOP Senate primary race, Crist further alienated many powerful Republican and business interests Thursday by vetoing a contentious teacher merit-pay and anti-tenure law they pushed through the Legislature. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) AP Photo/Steve Cannon

"Gov. Charlie Crist leads Marco Rubio by a nose in the Senate race. Obviously there is a long time until November, but the Governor is doing very well among independent voters, almost as well among Democrats as Meek and better among Democrats than Greene," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "With Rubio getting two-thirds of the Republican vote, the fate of Gov. Crist, who switched from a Republican to independent six weeks ago, depends heavily on his ability to appeal to Democratic voters."

Crist may be helped in his bid to win over Democratic voters by both Meek and Greene being relatively unknown. While Democrats view Meek as being slightly more favorable than Greene, their overwhelming opinion is that they don't know enough about either candidate - 59 percent saying so about Meek and 64 percent saying the same about Greene.

Those who did support one over the other, however, split nearly evenly, with Meek barely leading Greene 29 percent to 27 percent among likely Democratic primary voters. But 37 percent were undecided.

In addition, Quinnipiac found a dramatic shift in public opinion toward offshore drilling. Yesterday's poll showed that Florida voters now oppose drilling 51-42, a 48-point swing from results in an April 19th survey that had voters supporting it 66-27.

"Clearly, the gulf oil spill has changed the way Floridians view offshore drilling and almost certainly is responsible for the drop in President Obama's approval rating [40 percent]," said Brown. "Voters disapprove 54 - 37 percent of the way Obama is handling the spill."

In Florida's Republican gubernatorial primary race, a Quinnipiac poll has Rick Scott, a newcomer to politics, surging ahead of Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum on the heels of an aggressive multi-million dollar ad campaign introducing him to voters. The poll has Scott holding a 44-31 point lead over McCollum among likely Republican primary voters.

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