May 27th, 2010
09:19 AM ET
5 years ago

Poll: Most Connecticut voters OK with Blumenthal controversy

A new poll released Thursday has Richard Blumenthal holding a 56 to 31 point lead over his challenger for Senate.
A new poll released Thursday has Richard Blumenthal holding a 56 to 31 point lead over his challenger for Senate.

(CNN) – A new poll suggests that the controversy surrounding Democratic Senate nominee and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's misstating of his military record during the Vietnam War does not seem to be hurting him with most state voters.

A Quinnipiac University survey released Thursday indicates that more than six out of ten Connecticut voters say the controversy doesn't make a difference to their decision in the Senate election, with a third questioned saying it makes them less likely to vote for Blumenthal.

According to the poll, 56 percent say they back Blumenthal, with 31 percent supporting former professional wrestling executive Linda McMahon, in a likely general election matchup. One in ten were undecided. Blumenthal's 25 point advantage is down from a 33 point lead in a March poll conducted by Quinnipiac University.

"It looks like Connecticut voters forgive Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, or feel that there is nothing to forgive in the Vietnam service flap. While he has taken a hit with voters, his poll numbers were so high to begin with that he still maintains a commanding lead over Linda McMahon," says Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz.

Early last week the New York Times reported that Blumenthal distorted his military service record. The article alleged that Blumenthal lied about serving in Vietnam and says that he never served in that war, even though the candidate has claimed he did in speeches before veterans groups and military families.

A day after the release of the article, Blumenthal acknowledged he had not always accurately described his military service during the Vietnam War. Blumenthal served in the Marine Corps Reserves during the Vietnam War, and was stationed stateside. He said he mistakenly said he served "in" Vietnam rather than "during" Vietnam in his previous speeches.

The absence of a strong apology in his remarks last Tuesday fueled criticism from Republicans and even some Democrats.

"I have made mistakes and I am sorry. I truly regret offending anyone," Blumenthal said in a statement sent to the Hartford Courant Sunday night. "I will always champion the cause of Connecticut's and our nation's veterans."

In the statement to the Courant, Connecticut's largest daily newspaper, Blumenthal also said that "at times when I have sought to honor veterans, I have not been as clear or precise as I should have been about my service in the Marine Corps Reserves."

Last Friday McMahon captured the Senate nomination endorsement of state Republicans, but could still face a challenge in Connecticut's August primary.

According to the poll, McMahon leads the GOP primary with 49 percent, with former Rep. Rob Simmons at 23 percent and businessman Peter Schiff at 11 percent. Simmons, who narrowly lost the Republican endorsement to McMahon, suspended his campaign as the survey was being conducted.

"What is surprising is that McMahon gets no bounce from her Republican convention victory. Her negatives went up 13 points from 26 percent unfavorable to 39 percent unfavorable. The more voters get to know McMahon the less they like her," adds Schwartz.

The race is to succeed Sen. Chris Dodd. The five-term Democratic senator announced in January that he would not run for re-election this year. Dodd had been considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats in this November's midterms.

The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted Monday and Tuesday, with 1,159 registered voters in Connecticut questioned by telephone. The survey's overall samplign error is plus or minus three percentage points.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn


Filed under: Linda McMahon • Richard Blumenthal
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. Dave

    While what he did was pretty bad, it's not a deal-breaker. Let's be honest here – the GOP can try to make hay out of this, but considering the amount of loud-mouthed chickenhawks in their party who did all they could do to dodge serving in Vietnam, Blumenthal's offense is absolutely the lesser of the two...

    May 27, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  2. GOP = "I hope he fails"

    I am an issues voter, and I am a Democrat. However, for me, what Blumenthal did goes beyond the pale. I would not, and could not vote for this indevidual.

    Blumenthal stood on the sidelines while others did the fighting in dying in Vientnam. Now that's is over, Blumenthal lies about being on the sidelines so he can take a helping of the honor and glory.

    For me a person's military record is sacrosanct. You don't swift boat your opponent like Bush/Cheney and Specter. And you don't lie about your own record like Blumenthal. These things are below dishonor, and they are total disqualifiers as far as I am concerned.

    Dick Blumenthal is ethically inadequate to hold major public office! PERIOD.

    May 27, 2010 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  3. Sniffit

    Aaaaw, too bad GOPers...looks like another race you're not gonna win in your massive November 2010 "take back" of "your" country. Perhaps you should've chosen a candidate that people could take seriously instead of hypocritically running a "hollywood type" whose business practices with her husband are well known to have ruined many of their employees' lives. Idiots.

    May 27, 2010 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  4. tess

    absolutly, positively DISGUSTING!! democrats stand for nothing and have no morals, core or decency! america – we must get rid of people like this or we have no future! if you have children or grandchildren do you really want them growing up in a world run by people like this – people who lie about whatever and refuse to even be sorry or take responsibility – i certainly don't want my grandchildren led by the lowest denominator!

    May 27, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  5. Anonymous

    What people say and how they will actually vote are two different things.
    Only an election will tell us the truth,

    May 27, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  6. Dis-gusted

    Get real; if he will be dishonest about his service record, he will not be honest about other important matters. He sounds like one of these people who want things to be "my terms only."

    May 27, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  7. Kevin from Co

    So just like Richard Blumenthal, a good portion of the people in Connecticut have no honor? Not surprising from a heavy Liberal state.

    May 27, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  8. Angus McDugan

    Of course they are OK with it. They voted for Obama and he has lied more than most politicians, so why would one lie by this guy be a big deal to any Obama supporter.

    May 27, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  9. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Connecticut voters are smart, they know Richard Blumenthal and they already knew he didn't serve in Vietnam just like they know McMahon didn't serve in Vietnam.

    May 27, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  10. JHL

    He didn't "misspeak": he lied to cast himself in a better light. "I was a warrior" comes off a lot better than "I dodged the draft by getting five deferments and only when I was cornered did I volunteer for the Toys for Tots unit in the Marine reserves." Semper fi, y'all

    May 27, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  11. Mark from Louisiana

    How could someone vote for a liar? Blows my mind

    May 27, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  12. Tom in Delaware

    Change you can believe in.....Replace the liar Christopher Dodds with the liar Richard Blumenthal.

    Somehow I think this is just more MSM spin....trying again to tell the voters what they 'should' be feeling.

    May 27, 2010 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  13. Bertina

    Yes its important to remember that politics is local.

    May 27, 2010 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  14. Meltem

    Why does this not surprise me in todays world. You can lie and still get elected for public office. When we elect people with no intigrity, why are we so unhappy with the congress.

    May 27, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  15. truth

    The voters are okay with the comment because they know how CNN and other news outlets spin the words of democratic politicians. It is about time the voters wake up.

    May 27, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
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