Swing State Project's DavidNYC has a new poll from Quinnipiac University testing incumbent Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd - the longest-serving United States Senator in Connecticut history - against former CT-02 Rep. Rob Simmons, who lost reelection to Democrat Joe Courtney in 2006, as well as two other potential Republican opponents.
The numbers are rough for Dodd, and have vaulted Connecticut to the top of the list of Republican pickup opportunities.
Quinnipiac. 3/3-3/8. Registered voters. MoE 3.9%. (No trend lines)
Chris Dodd (D-inc) 42
Larry Kudlow (R) 34
Dodd's numbers have sagged considerably in recent months, brought on by several contributing factors.
First, Dodd moved his family out of the state, to Iowa, to pursue a quixotic presidential bid which went all of nowhere.
You'd think this kind of thing wouldn't bother constituents that much, but it often does. For those with long memories, longtime California Senator Alan Cranston ran a similarly ill-fated campaign for the presidency in 1984, and his constituents nearly sent him to the Ministry of Love in 1986 when Cranston ran for reelection. Running in a Democratic-friendly state against a liberal Republican, Cranston eked out a 49-48 victory in a year when Democrats picked up eight Senate seats.
Aside from Dodd's presidential bid, his stewardship of the Senate Banking Committee has come under considerable fire amid the recent financial crisis. In particular, Dodd has been getting a good deal of bad coverage from the press for receiving seemingly below-market mortgages from Countrywide Financial.
Finally, as the economic crisis has worsened, David notes that incumbents in both parties appear to be bleeding support:
On top of that, there seems to be a growing "throw the bums out mentality" in the face of the recession. It seems to mostly be afflicting governors for now, but the key thing is that it's nailing both parties - look at approval ratings for Paterson and Schwarzenegger. Dodd's vulnerability may well be increased just because he's getting swept up in that wake.Dodd is a terrific fundraiser, and his politics are more in tune with the state as a whole. Simmons will run well in his old district, but his strong Bush support will probably cripple him elsewhere in the state.
Anyway, it's not yet clear that Simmons will run, and the other candidates tested - state Sen. Sam Caligiuri and failed economist Larry Kudlow - don't look nearly as strong against Dodd.
All this being the case, we still believe Dodd merits a slight edge. But he is more seriously endangered than any other Democratic incumbent in the country, and perhaps more so than any Democratic seat, period.