Thanks to heavy and effective television advertising and a disciplined campaign, former WWE CEO Linda McMahon has pushed her Senate race against Rep. Chris Murphy (D) from Likely Democratic to Leans Democratic.
At the beginning of this cycle, many Washington Republicans wrote off her campaign. National Republicans now compliment her campaign's execution over the past year. They make no pretense that this race is on par with tossups in Virginia or Massachusetts, but insist it is much more competitive than it seems on the surface.
The biggest difference between this campaign and her failed, expensive 2010 effort is her opponent.
Her previous opponent, now-Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D), had held statewide office and patiently waited for his turn to run for Senate. His name identification served as a shield for McMahon's television advertising and his own missteps.
Conversely, Murphy is a relatively junior Member of Congress, with room to grow when it comes to name identification. McMahon has already begun to negatively define him.
The question is: How much will Murphy and national Democrats have to spend on this race? Murphy has had healthy fundraising, but McMahon has virtually bottomless pockets.
She obliterated former Rep. Chris Shays in the GOP primary. Part of Shays' case for the nomination was that he would be more electable in the fall. But now, some in his camp begrudgingly concede that McMahon has serious potential.
The DNA of this state is Democratic, and Republicans have historically had a difficult time winning Senate elections here. McMahon's work in professional wrestling offered Democrats plenty of opportunities to unleash opposition research in 2010. Democrats are expected to do the same again in the fall, and this continues to be Murphy's race to lose.
This race is to replace retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman (I).