Blumenthal Beats McMahon; Women Doomed Her
by Paul Bass & Staff | Nov 2, 2010 6:38 pm
Posted to: Politics, Campaign 2010
(Updated 8:10 p.m.) Despite spending more than $40 million, Republican Linda McMahon Tuesday failed to stop Democrat Richard Blumenthal from becoming the state’s new U.S. Senator—because she couldn’t persuade women like Ann Cresswell to vote for her.
McMahon began losing Cresswell on the “qualifications” question—then blew it altogether with all those robocalls.
Cresswell, a voter from New Haven’s Westville neighborhood who registers as an independent, voted for Republican McMahon’s Democratic opponent, Richard Blumenthal, in Tuesday’s election for Connecticut’s U.S. Senate seat. She was part of what pollsters identified as a yawning gender gap that McMahon struggled to close in the campaign’s final weeks.
Minutes after the polls closed at 8 p.m., networks began projecting Blumenthal the winner.
What was it about McMahon that turned off women—even after spending nearly $50 million getting her message out?
Pundits had theories galore as polls showed Blumenthal with double-digit leads among women. Monday’s Quinnipiac Poll showed Blumenthal leading McMahon among likely female voters by an astonishing 25 percentage points. McMahon, who made her fortune running World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), led among men by 4 percentage points. Preliminary exit polls by the Associated Press Tuesday evening showed Blumenthal winning three out of five female votes.
If McMahon had engendered even a little bit less animosity among female voters, this election might have been a cakewalk.
We asked dozens of women who voted in cities and suburbs across the state for their take on the gap. Like the Q Poll, our unscientific survey found Blumenthal overwhelmingly taking women’s votes, even when the same women voted for Republican Tom Foley for governor.
The word “wrestling” came up often—as an epithet. So did “commercials.” And “qualifications.”
“Maybe men are more taken in by the appearance. Maybe men really like that wrestling stuff,” Ann Cresswell (pictured) said. “I can’t stand it.”
Cresswell runs a mental health project in Derby. She said she leaned toward Blumenthal because he had a good record as Connecticut’s attorney general, whereas “I don’t see that Linda McMahon has any qualifications whatsoever to be a senator.”
Then came the robocalls.
“I got a phone call from her campaign every day,” Cresswell complained. “I called. I asked them to stop.” They didn’t stop.
“I don’t like her husband [WWE’s] Vince McMahon,” said Florence Ritchie (pictured). And “she was too busy slinging dirt.”
Ritchie, who’s 72, is precisely the kind of voter McMahon needed most: She’s independent. She lives in East Haven, a bellwether community in state elections. (McMahon put her regional campaign office there and stopped there Tuesday afternoon.)
Ritchie voted for a Republican candidate for state representative. She couldn’t decide between the Democratic and Republican candidates for governor until she went into the voting booth at Overbrook School. (She reluctantly voted Democratic in that race.) Voting for Blumenthal, on the other hand, was an easy call. She didn’t like McMahon—or her ads. “The only thing she did that was good is she came on TV to thank people.”
Other independents and ticket-splitters cited McMahon’s torrent of advertising.
“I thought she was rude, putting down somebody else instead of telling us about her values,” said a Republican who split her ticket for Blumenthal and Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley at A.W. School in Guilford. She declined to give her name. So did a female registered Democrat at the same polling place who split her ticket the same way. “Blumenthal made me nervous with his ‘misspeaking’ [about serving in Vietnam] but I think the other candidate just doesn’t have enough experience,” she said.
Nancy Owen of Derby, a registered independent, said McMahon’s ads were what made her decide to cast her ballot for Blumenthal.
“I didn’t like any of McMahon’s ads,” she said. “Her ads just turned me right off.”
“Too much ‘me,’” a female registered Republican in Hamden said in explaining why she voted against her party’s candidate.
“Over the top,” Blumenthal voter Sandy Wood of Manchester (pictured)—who was holding a sign for a Republican probate judge candidate—said of McMahon’s ads.
“All that bickering and carrying on was a turn off,” said Janus Clark (pictured), who split her vote between Blumenthal and Foley at New Haven’s Woodward Avenue fire station in the Annex neighborhood.
Allison, a retired teacher in Westville who preferred not to have her last name published, is a Democrat who voted for Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell in the past. To her, the problem with McMahon’s campaign wasn’t gender, it was idiocy. “I’m not sure she does well with intelligent male voters, either,” Allison said.
“Down To Earth”
To be sure, many of the Democrats voting against McMahon did so out of party loyalty and outlook. And many Republican women voted for McMahon, with enthusiasm. Some called her “down to earth.” A “girl power” rally with female state legislative candidates whipped up enthusiasm Monday night in Guilford. One-on-one on the trail, McMahon charmed everyday people.
“I think she’s strong,” said Republican Grace Halsey (pictured), who pulled the McMahon lever at Edgewood School. “I don’t think she’ll cave to lobbyists. My sisters-in-law think I’m crazy for voting for her. They think World Wrestling is a crock of baloney. But it’s jobs for people. It’s not real blood on people’s hands.”
“What I like about McMahon is that she’s a regular person. We have enough lawyers in the Senate; we need businesspeople to turn things around,” said Kathleen Allen, a 54-year-old registered Republican and state social services supervisor who voted for McMahon at Ansonia’s First Congregational Church. A registered Democrat, 43-year-old Gina Wilkinson, also pulled the McMahon lever there. (She said she votes the way her husband, a registered Republican, does.)
But, as Q Poll’s Doug Schwartz observed, the images projected in all the millions of dollars in advertising didn’t warm some people to her. Something about that image, campaign strategy, and biography backfired.
“It got to the point where I was so sick of the vicious attacks on Blumenthal—we’ve been listening to this since last Spring. I would turn the television off or turn it to mute when she came on,” said 70-year-old Dorellen Sullivan (pictured), who runs a religious education program at Our Lady of Assumption in Woodbridge.
“I think she’s offensive to women. Women tend to be more diplomatic and prudent.”
“I don’t like the ads. I don’t like all the money,’’ said Shirley Womack, a South Windsor Democrat who said she felt McMahon was attempting to use her immense fortune to buy the election. “Nobody can buy my vote. I’m a retired teacher, and I worked too hard, and I’m not going to be sold out,” Womack said.
“When Linda McMahon came out saying he [Blumenthal] sues small business people,” said voter Judy Goldberg (pictured) in Hamden, she thought of the time she spoke to him personally on the phone. She had called the attorney general’s office to complain about a contractor who took her money for some work on her home and he didn’t finish the job. A while later she got a panicked call from the contractor, who told her he’d go to jail if didn’t finish the work or refund her money, and he made good on the work.
Allan Appel, Sharon Bass, Jeff Kiely, Jeremy Lent, Laura Marris, Hugh McQuaid, Frances Taylor, Gwyneth Shaw, Christine Stuart, and Melinda Tuhus helped reported this story.
Tags: Linda McMahon, Richard Blumenthal
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Oh great, they preferred someone who LIED over and over about serving in Viet Nam. Nice job ladies.
Here’s an odd ball:
Went to my polling place and before walking in the door a Linda campaign worker approached me. I explained I was voting for Blumie. As a smart azz gesture, I chided the young man saying, “and you should be voting for him too!” He replied, “I did!” Got a big chuckle out of that one.
I am a woman who voted against McMahon. I find the observations here to be fair, even though I am not entirely comfortable with making broad generalizations about large groups of people. While I don’t want to be construed as saying anything even remotely sympathetic to her, isn’t it weird to run this story when the polls are barely closed? Seems to me it would have made more sense after the results are in.
Beautiful. Thanks to you and your staff for breaking the news, Paul.
Newsflash: as with Sarah Palin, Republicans discover that women don’t vote for someone just because they’re also a lady….you actually have to earn our votes based on experience, message, and issues.
This is such great news!
In a country that is so often, and so obviously, up for sale. It is nice to see that even the simpleton vote could not be bought….This time.
There is a G_d above! It wasn’t her involvement in the wrestling business, but rather because of how she allowed women to be portrayed as sexual useless objects. Because she would run mud-slinging ads and all of a sudden turn on that, I care emotional ad, and will remember you when I get to Washington>ugh!
Most important is that I have the deepest respect for Dick…and I am going to miss him as our Attorney General…he was one of a kind and a true fighter for the people! But look what we got in Washington because of it!
Congrats Dick! Linda, maybe you will take control of those Diva prancing young women and say “no more”! I believe many women sent you a message…a big one that cost you dearly. In the tune of $50 million.
What is with all the use of the expression “pulled the lever”? Haven’t you noticed we fill in paper ballots now?
No Win for us all. McMahon was a poor choice and she was smacked down. Now we have a Senator who lied about his Vietnam service. Anyone check how many GENUINE Veterans there are in the Senate? ... We deserve better.
it’s either white liberals or women who carry the day in the election world of the independent.
the organized african american voting block apparently doesn’t exist in that world.
I am proud that women saw through McMahon’s hype and money and realized that she was a candidate with absolutely no substance. The better candidate won and you’re welcome, maryinrichmond.
I was happy to her that my ward did not buy the game. We had a high turn out in 9 and 10 and both had around 1200 votes and only 100 for her! I would love to see some of the number around the city on this election
How can anyone refer to Linda McMahon as a “regular” person???? What “regular” person can spend $40 million for a campaign?! I hope the day comes when campaign spending is VERY limited & those running fpr office discuss issues in a truthful way instead of “bashing” the other person. Does it bother anyone else that candidates spend millions while so many people are jobless & homeless??? At the same time, they talk about the economy & jobs! What’s wrong with this picture?!
WOW. Imagine what that $40M could have done for those in need. Imagine what the combined campaign spending of $4B could have done for any other cause. Our collective priorities need to be honestly evaluated.
Honestly. He didn’t lie, he misspoke. He served stateside during Vietnam. So using “in” instead of “during” makes him a big fat liar?
Over & over? He misspoke twice in a 20 year career. He fumbled a preposition. Big deal.
Being wealthy, female, & steely-eyed isn’t a good enough resume to get my vote for a senate seat. Sorry, Mistress Linda.
ohhh I can finally use someone fantastic phrase…
I spent 40 Million and all I got was this WWE T-shirt.
sorry had to
Well, as a result of running in this election, the next time she fancies using her financial resources to become a ‘late in life politician’ she can at least claim to have a little political experience.
And it was not just women who were disgusted with her complete lack of competence… I know as many male voters who thought she was an unqualified nitwit trying to purchase a seat in DC as well.
Thanks, maryinrichmond, for the compliment - I think we did a nice job too.
Look, Blumenthal admitted he wasn’t perfect. As far as I can remember, McMahon never made such a statement and never apologized for the treatment of women in the WWE. Blumenthal’s record speaks for itself; he stood up for CT residents over and over again. McMahon’s record speaks for itself too; she made millions and millions on an entertainment industry that celebrates violence and aggression among men, and the poor treatment of women. Doesn’t seem to say much about her values….
And I’m SICK of the assumption that women will vote for women because we’re the same sex. We’re actually much smarter than that.
I can’t believe how many women voted against her because she was associated with wrestling and they don’t like it! OMG! I don’t particularly like wrestling either but it is a legitimate, solid business that created good jobs in CT! What is wrong with you women?? This truly reads like “she is strong and I don’t trust strong women.” They don’t like her husband?? How well do they know Blumenthal’s family?? McMahon’s experience was in creating, building and running a huge business. Yet the experience of a liar, oh, um, misspoken person made him the more qualified candidate? Unbelievable. Disappointing and unbelievable.
Maryinrichmond: Blumenthal’s record vastly outweighed his poor judgement in extending his true Vietnam-era service to actually serving in Vietnam. He apologized- and CT voters recognized that his experience and being right on the issues would serve us well in the Senate. Who hasn’t told a lie or exaggeration? We weren’t electing a saint- we were electing an experienced leader. Simply put, McMahon was underqualified for the job
Well, now that all is said-and-done, we don’t have much room to complain & bicker, now do we?
Let all of the slander & mud-throwing end - - the election is over, so let us all move on.
I was in Operation Enduring Freedom shortly after 9/11 and when we came back, I could see how patriotic America had become - the world had changed and it was shocking to see the vast transformation that happened after only 7 months time. And let me say that when I was “in,” that means that I served DURING the war - - I was deployed, yes… was I on the front-lines, no. So when someone says that they came back from war - more often than not, one could surmise that the individual served during the conflict and was deployed at some point during that time.
People are so busy pointing fingers and throwing stones that they loose sight of what’s really going on. I’m so happy that this is over with - - for now.
It’s funny to read the reason people have to vote for either candidate. These people don’t seem to realize this election was about national issues. Blumenthal will now have to figure out a way to make Social Security solvent without adding to the already horrendous deficit. He will have to find a way to create jobs for the millions without adding to the deficit. If you think he is better qualified for this fine but the reasons people use to vote are ridiculous. They should be embarrassed.
“sing along” i don’t care to much for linda cause money can’t buy me love. lol
posted by: jenks on November 3, 2010 2:34pm
Any person who spends over $ 40 million of their own money and calls themselves a Conservative Republician must have ego problems.
Will Sen B put his foot on the throat of Ben Bernanke who wants to start printing money to make the banks’ MBS problem go away (simultaneously devaluing everyone elses assets)?
Never fails to amaze me how women can justify their behavior. Women have problems with another woman obtaining a position of power.
Most of these are made up excuses to justify their base instinct to prevent another women from gaining perceived authority over them.
This is no difference then all the power struggles the women in offices have.
I have been involved in the senatorial campaign since January, and I think “BobInThe2nd” hit the nail on the head. Anyone who actually met Linda (and had MANY opportunitieDownsdo that) came away impressed with her breadth of knowledge on the issues; even the Hartford Courant and the New London Day noted that. The Courant went so far as to suggest that Linda be brought on board as a “business advocate for the state” after the elections.
The elections are over; the time for finger-pointing is over… but I deeply regret that those Connecticut women posting on this site and quoted in this article didn’t make the time to meet Linda head-on at numerous opportunities, and who constantly quote the “WWE stigma.” I am a single-income household, barely surviving in my beloved, but unaffordable state. Somehow, I’m not living on the dole (yet); I fully believe that Linda would have made my life better. You see, I’m a private sector employee, one of those who get no pay increases year over year, who’s health insurance increases at astronomical rates year over year (for example: my copay for a required medication is $90 for a 3 month supply, and unfortunately for me, I take 13 required medications just to live. $90 each x 13 prescriptions x 4 refills per year = $4,680 every year JUST in prescription copays!)
What I most regret is some of the horrible, disgusting, personal posts about Linda I saw over the months, which ranged from the clothes and shoes she wore to the size of her rear end (and by the way, for those of you who met her, she’s tiny). The newspaper endorsements for Blumenthal, and even some of the biggest-known “Linda Haters” admitted to me personally that to meet her was to love her. She has the personal quality that makes you want to talk to her, question her, listen to her ideas; she could have made a positive impact on healing the rift in Washington by her personality and in-depth knowledge of the issues alone, as the major newspapers clearly noted… but her eyes always told you she meant business about working her hardest to save our state and our country.
It saddens me that Republican candidates across the country who decided to “self-fund” rather than use taxpayer money are constantly referred to as “trying to buy my vote.” Folks: you don’t know what it takes to run a campaign without taxpayer dollars and special interest contributions to your campaign. You don’t seem to see the difference between putting your personal money where your mouth is, and taking $9 MILLION dollars in taxpayer money to fund your campaign (a la Malloy). It was OK to skewer Linda over her personal wealth, but God forbid you bring up that Dick Blumenthal’s wife’s family owns the Empire State Building and much of the real estate in Manhattan. If you even mention that fact—I guarantee you, you get hit with the “race card.” HUH? But it happened over and over and over again. Candidates putting up their own money were “trying to buy votes”; candidates taking our taxpayer money were “the best of the best.” And if you tried to even say, hey, it’s not your taxpayer dollars paying for the campaign, why are you saying “buy my vote?” you were AUTOMATICALLY (for some unknown, non-reasonable way) labeled a racist! OMG!
Republicans in Connecticut are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t. There is no fighting the class warfare that has developed in our state. The problem is, and I challenge you to check it out, that the Democratic winners have significant wealth, and their campaigns were funded with either or both public taxpayer dollars or special interest contributions from unions. Why is there a class warfare - with the occasional racist card thrown in—when it takes so much money to run a race these days? Who in their right mind doesn’t understand what it takes to run a race? And candidates who couldn’t raise the money—like Janet Peckinpaugh—had no chance with the $1.7 MILLION contributed to Courtney’s campaign by special interest groups…
And people have the audacity to ask: “Why can’t the Republicans put up “better” candidates?”
WHO WHO WHO in their right mind, especially after this election, would run for office as a Republican for public office in Connecticut? They put up their own money—NOT yours—and in the end, all they get for their 24x7 efforts is never ending controversy on the size of their a@@ and the fact that they built a business that consumers wanted. If you want to keep cr@pping on Linda, why don’t you direct your comments to the people that liked what their business offered? If people were THAT offended, how did the business grow?
Oh, and I’m prepared for all the responses about corruption and lobbyists (which ALL companies have in Washington, so make sure you hit Pratt, UTC, Pfizer, and all other major employers in CT while you’re at it on the lobbyist theme). UTC is leaving Connecticut, whether you understand that or not. Slowly but surely, they are leaving Connecticut. And they will soon be gone forever, like many other businesses that have been around for 100+ years. If nothing else, it’s just gotten too nasty to stay in Connecticut and speak your mind on the issues.
I now fully understand why Connecticut was one of the very last states to ratify the 19th amendment—after it had already received enough votes across America for federal ratification so Connecticut was essentially a token vote. Real change—change we can really believe it—actually originates in the Midwest. Check out the history of the abolitionist movement and the women’s rights movement (basically led by Ohio).
My faith in this state is shattered, and it is shattered most specifically because people were quite specific in stating that the size of someone’s tiny a@@ and/or how they made their personal money—not YOUR money—THEIR money—determined their vote.
Since all the Dems were re-elected with YOUR money, I hope you have some higher expectations for our state, which will soon follow California into bankruptcy. And yes, I lived in California too. I saw it first hand, and I fled the obvious. Our youth are fleeing CT in record numbers, as are retirees. Why can’t people see what is happening, rather than focusing on campaign funding sources, union buses pushing people into the bus to go vote (I witnessed that myself in Hartford), shoes, and butt sizes?
Criticize Republicans for not putting up “better candidates”? We had the BEST candidates this year—Jerry Farrell was endorsed by EVERY newspaper, and he was the one and only Republican endorsed by ALL the papers, and he lost to PTA mom! Sean Sullivan, a 26 year Navy vet and Commander of the New London base who fought harder than any of the other people who have claimed “I saved the sub base!”—it was SEAN SULLIVAN who was the clear leader in saving the sub base and all those direct and indirect jobs. And he lost to an incumbent who arrogantly says repeatedly “I’m a union person; I won’t compromise” at numerous public meetings???
I can’t imagine any Republican in their right mind to take the personal abuse (and rob their children of their inheritance) to run for office in Connecticut. This election was a clear message to all future, potential Republican candidates. I know I sure got the message.
To Got it Right: The Senate campaign wasn’t decided on the basis the red herring you site - Mrs. McMahon’s posterior. Nor thankfully, on the basis of personality - Linda is no doubt a lovely individual. Those writing about her on the “pages” of New Haven Independent, always treated her with respect and were even complimentary about her and her campaign, as she took to New Haven’s streets to meet the people- a rather gutsy move given the city’s political leanings. I don’t think people were upset about her self-funding campaign-millions (a mini-boom to the economy)as much as the idea that in appearances, money seemed to be in lieu of the type of experience that would make her the best candidate. Having experience in business is good, but is not, in and of itself, a qualifier for the office she sought.
Politics is a dirty business and you actually undersell your candidate by suggesting that she was not up to playing hardball. Given Mrs. McMahon’s personal grit(did you see how she launched that kick to the groin?),I would suggest that she was thick-skinned enough to brush aside the silly critiques of her appearance.
As to Connecticut’s future, your dire predictions(sound more like a wish)about the state’s imminent demise are just off the mark. This State, as all states, could be in better shape, but it remains perfectly viable. Decades of Republican gubernatorial governance, I would submit, have helped create the climate you so decry. Let’s give Democrats a chance to govern now, and feel free to help out where and when you can. The campaign is over, and it is time to
put its rhetoric to bed.
Spending $ 40 million of your money as a Conservative Republican is a reality check for me. ... She should call the former EBAY president running for Governor in California. Maybe they can get the group world. The political world in USA is loaded with rich crazy people entering politics.
You are dripping with class warfare. Why all hatred of people who EARNED they own money?
Do not people who worked hard and smart get to run for office, or do only people who make lifetime careers of “public” service get to?
Or only people who marry into money like Kerry and Dick Blummy?
...I believe Meg and Linda both (in there own little worlds) felt they were doing it for the greater good….and I can’t speak for meg…but I think Linda’s vague memory’s of her trouble way back when do linger in her mind as a battle won…but if this had happened to her in this day and age I believe that the barriers that the republican’s have put up for the working middle class to succeed…..she would never of made it as far as she did in life….I believe that her limited sight does not allow her to see the world as it really is. I believe her money bought her votes and maybe a little bit if an education of reality. But I know she if she ran again…would still stand by the rich and powerful…and make those road blocks for the middle class ever higher.
What makes me really sick in the end is…the 100 mill meg spent and the 50 mill that linda spent….could of really made some change in this country…if they where wise they should of did that with the doe…they could of then spouted about how they understand if they had gotten their hands dirty.
Not to mention there campaign staff where just as clueless….as we watched this whole thing unfold over the past few months I could see 100 mistakes they made…bRAVO GUYS!
Linda I challenge you to donate your TIME and a little cash ...but TIME, person to person in DV shelters! I want you to understand…no your stuff does not make a man hit a women…my son loves WWE and I am a survivor…but I raised him right…but what WWE does do is it encourages the belittlement of women for young men that do not have someone like me in their lives…for young men to justify in their minds it is ok (not your fault by no means) but BIG BUT…you are syndicated and on a half a dozen stations…you can not say you do not understand what we are talking about! You market it, you made your money on it.
God bless and do the right thing.
You state:...“but if this had happened to her in this day and age I believe
that the barriers that the republican’s have put up for the working middle
class to succeed”
As some one interested in always improving the common lot what are these barriers?
As a lay person my understanding is limited…but my best guess and my personal view is because of the bush years tanking the economy…trillions spent on the war..deregulation allowing the wall street to go hay wire. Bank not willing to work with startup company’s at all. Not to mention the republicans…filibuster mode that is making the economy recovery go slow because the country is afraid to do anything till everyone is on board. Which they (the Republicans) are promising to continue this behavior till Obama is gone.
But that is just my laymen view from the outside.
But even though the republicans are stonewalling we are starting to see some moment
Maybe I got hit more with Linda’s campaign literature and phone calls because I’m a registered Republican. But after a while, I couldn’t take it. I couldn’t take that she had zero experience and was trying to buy my vote and everyone else’ vote.
She had no qualifications whatsoever. I question her success at the WWE. She did NOT build that enterprise from the ground up. Nope. It was freely handed to her from her father-in-law. Her father-in-law started it years ago before she married Vince. If anyone is the brains behind the business, it is Vince. Not Linda. Maybe Vince should have run for Senate. The whole classifying the wrestlers as contractors is a scam to get the wrestlers to pay their own benefits. Is that we want for Connecticut’s working people? I got the sense that her Senate run was just what Greenwich socialite’s do after they’ve achieved vast amounts of money. After the challenge of obtaining money is gone, the desire for power takes over. She wanted to get power so badly, even if she had no qualifications and had to buy it herself.
And yes, I threw away my vote. I did a write-in because I couldn’t stand either Linda for Blumenthal. I don’t know which one I hate more. I voted for Peter Schiff in the CT primary.