Democrats have long maintained that McMahon — who won the GOP nod in 2010, spent more than $50 million of her own money, then lost in the general election — would be easy to crush again in 2012, particularly in a left-leaning state in a year when President Obama will be on the ballot.

But the Quinnipiac poll showed Murphy would beat Shays by 8 points, compared to his 3-point lead over McMahon.

“You have worked hard to share Linda’s plan to create jobs and turn our economy around, and this poll shows that is clearly resonating with hardworking families and small-business owners across Connecticut,” wrote McMahon’s campaign manager, Corry Bliss, in an email to supporters.

In the Democratic primary, Murphy has a whopping 30-point lead over former Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz. Three months ago, Murphy led Bysiewicz by just 12 points.

Despite staying neutral as a general rule in Democratic primaries, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, through its chairwoman, Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayCDC director to miss fourth hearing because of potential ethics issues Week ahead: Lawmakers near deal on children's health funding Ryan suggests room for bipartisanship on ObamaCare MORE (Wash.), has endorsed Murphy. But other Democratic-aligned groups, including EMILY's List, have lined up behind Bysiewicz.

Bysiewicz’s campaign manager, Jonathan Ducote, said the poll did nothing to change the state of the race.

“This election is about who will stand up for the middle class and hold Wall Street accountable,” said Ducote. “Over the next two and a half months we'll engage the 700,000 Democrats who are eligible to vote in the August primary about who has the best plan to accomplish these goals.”

The Hill rates this race as likely Democratic.