As long as Linda McMahon has been the Republican Senate candidate in Connecticut, everybody — even conservatives — assumed her long, infamous ties to World Wrestling Entertainment would be a huge liability for her. But it might pay off for an unforeseen reason, particularly if her opponent’s narrow lead keeps shrinking.
On November 2, voters and their families will face a choice: head to the polls to vote, or rush over after work to the Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport for a rollicking night of “Smackdown” — election night fun for the whole family.
The event has Connecticut Dems working the refs.
The show will begin at 6:45 p.m., a full hour and 15 minutes before the polls close in a district that went 60-40 for President Obama in 2008. The venue can hold up to 10,000 people. And Democrats are worried that — whether they’re stuck in traffic, or watching a large man in tights get bodyslammed — a significant number of voters might not make it to the polls in time to vote.
That could spell bad news for Richard Blumenthal — and worse news for Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT), whose lead over Republican challenger Dan Debicella is a modest 2.6 percent, according to the TPM Poll Average.
Last night, TPM spoke with WWE spokesman Robert Zimmerman. He cautioned that these events are set up months — and sometimes as much as a year — in advance. Linda McMahon declared her candidacy in September 2009, and didn’t win the nomination until August 10 of this year. In other words, it’s unlikely that this was set up to narrow the margins (or flip the race) on election day.
Another mitigating factor, according to Zimmerman, is that most “Smackdown” shows begin with an interlude of “dark matches” — essentially exhibition shows for fans who arrive early. Many of the diehards, he said, don’t show up until the event begins in earnest, an hour or so later.
“They have all day to vote, then they can do that, or they can vote through [the dark matches] and come for the main event,” Zimmerman said.
We’re waiting to learn exactly when this event was scheduled, and will report back when we do. But even if, as it appears, there was no funny business involved, it’s certainly possible that it will, perhaps mildly, lay the smackdown on voter turnout in a Democratic part of the state.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.