The Washington Times - September 14, 2010, 02:48PM

The race to fill retiring Sen. Christopher Dodd’s seat in Connecticut is tighter than ever, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll out Tuesday that shows Republican Linda McMahon trailing Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal by six points.

News of Mr. Blumenthal’s shrinking lead comes two days before President Obama heads to Connecticut to campaign for him on Thursday.

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The new single-digit deficit compares with what was once a 40-percentage point spread back in January, and seems to show that Mrs. McMahon’s money-pumping strategy [-] helped by a few notable gaffes on the part of Mr. Blumenthal [-] is working.

The race pits a political novice and one-time wrestling mogul against a longtime political veteran who analysts say hasn’t faced a credible political challenge in years.

Mrs. McMahon, former chief executive of Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment, has pledged to spend up to $50 million on the race.

Douglas Schwartz, Quinnipiac University’s polling director, said the shift is due more to voters opposed to Mr. Blumenthal than a groundswell of support for Mrs. McMahon.

“For Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, an elected official with a 70-percent approval rating, this race is surprisingly close,” Mr. Schwartz said. “It is not that voters are wild about McMahon; her favorability rating is tepid. And many of her supporters are more anti-Blumenthal.”

Likewise, Mr. Schwartz said Mr. Obama has been a drag on Mr. Blumenthal, noting that the president’s approval rating is only 45 percent in the traditionally blue state. While Mr. Blumenthal hopes the appearance will rally base voters to turn out in November, national Republicans hope to exploit Mr. Obama’s visit.

In a response to the new numbers, the McMahon camp credited her progress to Connecticut voters’ fatigue of “career politicians.”

“Since January, Dick Blumenthal’s 41-point lead in the polls has all but evaporated. While Linda has been focused on economic recovery and job creation, Blumenthal has been waiting out the clock and relying on his political allies to run negative attacks against Linda,” spokesman Ed Patru said. “This will be an election, not a coronation.”