In a Patch Blue Nutmeg and Red Nutmeg survey of Connecticut political insiders the day after the second debate between U.S. Senate candidates Linda McMahon, a Republican, and Democrat Chris Murphy, respondents overwhelmingly backed their party’s candidate. But some called for an end to the negative campaigning that has defined the race.
All 16 of the Democrats who participated in the Blue Nutmeg survey thought Chris Murphy should be declared the victor in the debate, which was hosted by the University of Connecticut at the Jorgensen Center on the Storrs campus. Eleven Democrats thought Murphy had won by “a wide margin.” All nine Republicans thought Linda McMahon won, five of them saying she took it by a wide margin.
It comes as no surprise that Connecticut Democrats and Republicans would line up according to party affiliation, especially in a political season that has seen its share of fierce partisanship. Indeed, the tone of many of the candidates’ answers during the debate echoed their television ads: aggressive and dismissive.
One respondent seemed thoroughly disheartened.
“The Murphy and McMahon campaigns are nasty. Does negative campaigning work? Studies have shown yes, it does. But nasty campaigning is a different story,” one respondent said. “… This campaign is a character attack and, in complete honesty, is disheartening. … What happened to campaigns worthy of the voter and worthy of voters’ dignity?”
Both candidates, respondents thought, focused more on tearing the other candidate down than touting their own positions.
“We need issues discussion broadened,” a Republican lamented about the debate.
“Linda McMahon (just) parroted her TV ads,” a Democrat said.
Democrats said Murphy needed to “keep to the issues,” but several pointed to the economy and health care as two areas where they thought he outpointed McMahon. Republicans, too, thought McMahon needed to stick to the issues (“Linda needs to focus more on her accomplishments and ignore Murphy’s snide remarks”) but thought she excelled at explaining her positions on taxes and job creation.
“Was it just me or did it seem like for two or three answers each of the candidates told the other candidate to talk about the issues?” one respondent said. “So, in effect, they are talking about talking about the issues but are not ACTUALLY talking about the issues.”
Several respondents expressed disdain for the way both campaigns have chosen to conduct themselves throughout this election season, and some pointed to the high-stakes reward of a Senate seat as the main reason for the increasingly divisive tone.
“Murphy and McMahon are doing this because they know what’s on the line. They know that somewhere in upwards of 85% of the incumbents who run in the Senate are re-elected,” one Democrat said. “They know that once one of them gets this seat, there is an overwhelmingly high probability that they can keep it as long as they want.”
Although some respondents chose to focus on familiar themes (“Murphy is an idiot,” said one; “McMahon is trying to buy the election,” said another), many either somewhat agreed or strongly agreed that their candidate’s performance in the debate would help their chances to be elected in what is sure to be a tight race.
The next Murphy-McMahon debate is Monday, Oct. 15, at 7 p.m. in New London at the Garde Arts Center. The pair will meet for the final time Oct. 18 in Hartford.
Patch’s surveys are not a scientific random sample of any larger population but rather an effort to listen to a swath of influential local Republican and Democratic activists, party leaders and elected officials in Connecticut. All of these individuals have agreed to participate in the surveys, although not all responded to Thursday night's questions. Surveys were conducted between noon and midnight on Oct. 12.
Patch will be conducting Red Nutmeg and Blue Nutmeg surveys throughout 2012 in hopes of determining the true sentiment of conservatives and liberals on the ground in Connecticut. If you are an activist, party leader or elected official and would like to take part in weekly surveys that last just a few minutes, please email Regional Editor Corey Fyke at email@example.com.
Red Nutmeg Roster: Mark Gill, Kevin Dombrowski, John Rodolico, Mike Cherry, Mimi Peck Llewellyn, Fred Camillo Allyn Jr., Fran Lowell, Julia Cronin, Bob Beaver, Mark Zacchio, Thomas Harrison, Britta Lerner, Lisa Bigelow, John Shaban, Ward Mazzucco, Dan Carter, Harry Thomas, Don Patterson, Harold Cummings, Brian Motola, William Nicholson, Mark Kalina, Adam Weissberger, Christine Vincent, Jack Scavone, Laura Roberts, Andy Powell, Anthony Candelora, Michael Doody, Rose Angeloni, Vin Candelora, Abbe Smith, Denise Hall, Peter Martin, Steven Adler, Burke Doar, Jay Sarzen, Meredith Trimble, Phil Dunn, Frank Morse, Todd Cusano, Marti Stiglich, Malvi Lennon, Jeff Ingram, Aaron Jubrey, Lisa Boccia, Jason Buchsbaum, Vinny Toscano, David Freudmann, Ric Hossak, Beverly Miela, April Holinko, Tony Lent, Jason Perillo, John Anglace Jr., Ross Mandell, Nathan McKay, Dorry Clay, Wendy Bury, Stephen Bessette, Christopher Davis, Chris Fryxell, David Reed, Sharon McLaughlin, Janet Wieliczka, Jeff Gutman, J.P. Sredzinski, Robert Yamin, Joe Cavo, Mark Boughton, Shay Nagarsheth, Michael McLachlan, Norbert Fay, Dan Steward, Kathleen McCarty, David Lewis, Alan Wilensky, Tim Herbst, Suzanne Testani, Susan LaFrance, Paul Lavoie, Diane Pomposello, Kristin Ingram, Stacy Geist, Jay Berardino, John Szewczyk, Jeremy Renninghoff, Pat Dinatale, Ed Bailey, Scott Kaupin, Patrick Droney, John Kissel, Tom Kienzler, Greg Stokes, Peter Tesei, Livvy Floren, Fred Camillo, Steven Warzoha, L. Scott Frantz, Frank Szeps, Bryan Perry, Ed Munster, Eloise H.P. Killeffer, James M. McLaughlin, Valerie M. Saiz, Nancy Haase, Charles Haberstroh, Avi Kaner, Michael Rea, Jonathan Steinberg, Lisa DiLullo, Mike Digrego, Michael. S. Casey, Pam Staneski, Tom Jagodzinski, Matthew Galligan, Timothy Becker, Mark Tweedie, Cheri Pelletier, Darren Cunningham, Sean Askham, William Stokesbury, Brian Ladouceur Jr., Cathy Durdan, Paul Henault, Len Cahill, Phil Williams, Phil Sengle, Vincent Cimino, Charity Folk, Stephen Walko, Daria Novak, Diane Carney, Linda Davis, Leora Levy, Aundré Bumgardner.
Blue Nutmeg Roster: Wendy Howard, David Peña, Daryl Worobow, Linda Merlin, Michael Freeman, Neal Bobruff, Edward Haberek Jr., Dorry Clay, Corey Sipe, Don Maranell, Dee Dee Martin, Nick Kapoor, Susan Koneff, Alan Vaglivelo, Kelly Plunkett, William D. Saums, Michael Graner, Rebecca Graebner, Kenneth Koe, Stephanie Calhoun, Dave Holdridge, Sheri Cote, J.W. "Bill" Sheehan, Cheryl Larder, Andrea Kanfer, George Peteros, Tony Silber, Roy Fuchs, Mary Beth Thornton, Nancy DiNardo, Richard W. White, Karen Cheyney, Michael Doyle, James McLaughlin, Allison Dodge, Laura Williams, Drew Marzullo, John Blankley, David Rafferty, Anthony R.J. Moran, William Satti, Rich Martin, George "Bud" Bray, Dan Pickett, James Albis, Jack Stacey, Sharon Hightower, Peter Kochenburger, William Ryan, Mark LaPlaca, Toni Moran, Andrea Epling, James Ezzes, Jonathan Steinberg, Jan Rubino, Rick Field, Bob Pagoni, Josh Freeman, James Maroney, Richard Smith, Kim Rose, Richard Roy, Paul Davis, Robert Hoffman, Kathleen Devlin, Francis Devlin, Ted Graziani, Tracey Kiff-Judson, Mike Pohl, Josh Howroyd, Dave Dumaine, Ryan Barry, Mike Farina, Doreen Richardson, Darleen Klase, Bill Herzfeld, Brandon McGee, Al Simon, Kevin Cavanagh, Alan R. Mordhorst, Phil Sylvestro, Bill MacDonald, Frank Farricker, Tom Gugliotti, Jeff Blumenthal, Peter Mahoney, Marie Herbst, Thomas DiDio, Michael Winkler, Ethelene DiBona, Jennifer Wolfer, Dolly Mezzetti, Joe Mezzetti, Jeff Tindall, Hal Schwartz, Kevin Coyner, Craig Nussbaum, Catherine Zamecnik, Jane Scully Welch, Leon Karvelis, Barbara Reynolds, Bob Schrage, Mark Lewis, Gayle Weinstein, John Hampton, Lisa Heavner, Helen A. Garten, Tricia Evans.