Sen. Chris Dodd has gained on challenger Rob Simmons, according to the latest poll from Quinnipiac University, and is now only down by a handful of points. The number in parentheses is from April’s poll.
This is a ten-point swing in Dodd’s favor (Dodd now up by 5%, Simmons goes down by 5%), which is good news for Dodd (though not as good as, say, being ahead). He also actually leads Sam Caligiuri, now, by the narrow margin of 41-39.
Dodd also leads Democratic challenger Merrick Alpert 44%-24%. Yes, he’s under 50% in a Democratic primary against someone no one has heard of, which is not great news for him, but it could be worse. Alpert could be ahead.
The rebound follows a month in which Dodd has not made any negative headlines, and has had a major credit card reform act passed by Congress and signed by a popular president (whose praise for Dodd was effusive). Dodd’s biggest nosedive, in April, came after a month of scandal and bad press, and this poll suggests that while he hasn’t quite recovered completely from that, he’s made some headway.
What to make of Alpert’s numbers? Well, for a challenger with essentially zero name recognition, this isn’t at all bad. There are apparently a significant number of Democrats out there who are willing to vote for anyone over Chris Dodd. Richard Blumenthal take note. However, 54% of Democrats say they want to see Dodd run again.
One thing to note about this poll (and other Quinnipiac polls) is Dodd’s numbers in the various Congressional districts.
In a general election matchup, would Dodd really lose the 1st and 3rd districts? This poll, and the April poll, suggest that he is behind there. It could absolutely be that Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents in these districts are turning against Dodd. But if that were the case, I’d expect Dodd to be doing far worse in the 4th district, which he is actually winning. This seems a little odd.
In fact, his numbers are consistent in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd districts, which are very different places. It’s hard to know what’s happening here without seeing more specific numbers for each district (i.e., a breakdown by party ID, the sample size, etc.). We don’t have a breakdown by Congressional district for other polls, so it’s hard to verify this trend.
This race right now, however, is far more about being angry at Chris Dodd than it is about Rob Simmons, and so voters may just be taking their frustrations out on him in remarkably uniform ways.
Favorability Low, But Better
Dodd gets a lousy 37% favorability rating, compared with a 30% rating in early April. It’s still better than April’s 30% number. He was at 46% back in early March, however, before the AIG scandal hit.
Dodd still has an honesty problem. 24% of those who disapproved of Dodd’s performance as a U.S. Senator cited dishonesty as their main problem with him (11% said his mortgage deal, 15% cited his ties to the banking industry). Only 35% said that they found Dodd to be honest and trustworthy.
Dodd’s campaign is likely to be relieved by this poll. The bleeding has stopped, for now. However, Dodd is still in very deep trouble with voters all across the state, and the damage done in March still lingers. Alpert’s numbers are disheartening, but not devastating. If Dodd had been close to or behind Alpert in a Democratic matchup, other more well-known Democrats might have given the race a second look.
The main conclusion to draw here is that Dodd still has an awful lot of work to do to really recover. But at least he seems to have hit bottom for now.
Everyone still loves Jodi Rell and Barack Obama. 73% approve of Rell, while 71% approve of Obama.
Joe Lieberman is back in positive territory, barely. 46% approve of his performance, while 44% disapprove.
Interestingly, 56% now say that they are somewhat or very satisfied with the way things are going in Connecticut, compared to 42% in March.