Senate race nears end

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Photo by Lorenzo Ligato.

After months of aggressive ads, debates and campaigning, the Connecticut Senate race is entering its final week before elections.

As of Monday, polls show Democratic candidate Chris Murphy building a slight advantage over Republican competitor Linda McMahon, but the race nonetheless remains close. State Senate majority leader Martin Looney said Murphy’s lead is a result of strong debate performances, which supporters hope voters will remember come Tuesday. Ben Mallet ’16, campaign director for the Yale College Republicans, said the race is still very close, and McMahon advocates will continue to campaign ­— shifting their focus from registering voters to ensuring that those who have voiced support for McMahon turn out to vote for her on Election Day.

“Murphy’s message is coming across more clearly now, especially since the debates,” Looney said. “He really showed his experience and mastery on a range of issues, including the issue that will likely decide this election: the economy. The debates were a real turning point.”

A Rasmussen telephone poll of likely Connecticut voters released Monday indicated Murphy winning 51 percent of the vote compared to McMahon’s 45 percent. These latest polling figures come at the end of a month when candidates for the most part remained in a dead heat; McMahon had even pulled ahead by 1 percentage point in the start of October.

Looney said the Senate seat is still anyone’s game. According to the RealClearPolitics Average, Murphy leads McMahon by a four-point spread. Mallet agreed that the race is still up for grabs.

“It is so exciting how much momentum the McMahon campaign has gathered over the last couple months,” Mallet said, “and now it’s really neck and neck.”

Nicole Hobbs ’14, a student who has volunteered for the Chris Murphy campaign through the Yale College Democrats, said in an email to the News that although she believes Chris Murphy is in a good position to win the election, there is still much work to be done in the coming days.

The focus of the McMahon campaign is beginning to shift from finding out where voters are to making sure voters come to the polls, Mallet said. One controversial strategy the McMahon campaign employed is unveiling a new campaign ad informing voters that many people in Connecticut are voting for both McMahon and President Barack Obama despite the fact that the two represent opposing parties, he added.

Looney called the strategy “surprising,” adding it “definitely angered the Republican base in the state.”

Volunteers on both sides spoke about building excitement in the final week of the campaign.

“With a week to go before the election, those working on campaigns are definitely feeling a range of emotions,” Hobbs said, “In only a week’s time we’ll be able to see if all of the hard work we have put in over the past months will bring us the results we have been working for.”

Mallet echoed that sentiment and said people at the McMahon campaign are excited for Election Day.

Former President Bill Clinton campaigned Sunday with Murphy in Waterbury, Conn. Speaking at the Palace Theater to a crowd of over 2,500, Clinton criticized McMahon for falling into lockstep with presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s economic policies. The McMahon campaign fired back, criticizing Connecticut’s current economic stagnation and touting McMahon’s business record in an Oct. 28 press release.

“Connecticut needs more good jobs,” the McMahon campaign said. “McMahon has a six-point Jobs Plan ready to take with her to Washington to get our economy back on track.”

Neither campaign could be reached for an official comment Monday afternoon. Campaign offices closed early in lieu of Hurricane Sandy.

As the race storms on, both campaigns said voter turnout on the day of the election is key.

“Who wins this election, whether we’re talking about the presidential election, the Senate race here in Connecticut or even more local races, will absolutely be dependent upon turnout,” Hobbs said. Mallet agreed, citing the primary as an example of an election in which a few people changed their minds right before voting.

Polls open in Connecticut at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Correction: Oct. 31

A previous version of this article referred to Nicole Hobbs ’14 as a student working on the Chris Murphy campaign, but Hobbs only volunteers for the Murphy campaign through the Yale College Democrats. The article also mistakenly stated that Hobbs said each campaign is in “get out the vote” mode — increasing canvassing and phone banking initiatives to convince people to vote. In fact, she said this is typically how campaigns operate in the week before an election but added that the Murphy campaign has put its voter turnout efforts on hold in the wake of the hurricane.

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