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Democrat keeps lead in Connecticut Senate race: poll


Connecticut's State Attorney General and U.S. Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal speaks to reporters at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in West Hartford, Connecticut, May 18, 2010. REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin
Connecticut's State Attorney General and U.S. Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal speaks to reporters at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in West Hartford, Connecticut, May 18, 2010. REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin

BOSTON (Reuters) - The Democratic nominee for a Senate seat in Connecticut is holding on to a wide lead over his Republican opponent, despite having been forced to apologize for misleading statements about his military record, a new poll shows.

State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal led Republican Linda McMahon, a former wrestling executive, by 56 to 31 percent in the Quinnipiac University survey taken this week and released on Thursday.

Democrats badly need to hold on to the seat being vacated by retiring Senator Christopher Dodd in November if they are to retain their overall Senate majority.

Blumenthal came under fire after the New York Times reported this month he had sometimes claimed to have served in Vietnam, though he actually never left U.S. soil during his service in the Marine Reserve.

He apologized, saying he had not been "as clear or precise as I should have been."

The new poll showed Blumenthal's lead had shrunk somewhat since the previous Quinnipiac survey in March, when he led 61 to 28 percent. However it suggested damage from his widely-publicized statements was not serious enough to endanger his election bid.

"It looks like Connecticut voters forgive Attorney General Blumenthal, or feel that there is nothing to forgive in the Vietnam service flap," said Douglas Schwartz, poll director at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.

Schwartz noted that McMahon's negatives jumped to 39 percent from 26 percent after her victory in the Republican nominating vote on May 21. "The more voters get to know McMahon, the less they like her," he said.

By contrast, Blumenthal, an activist law enforcer whose office has taken on Wall Street, credit card lenders, drug companies and even ski resorts, retained a 76 percent approval rating from Connecticut voters.

(Reporting by Ros Krasny, editing by Alan Elsner)

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