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CT-Sen.: Is Chris Dodd in Trouble?

Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd (D) could face a serious Republican challenge in 2010. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd has sustained serious political damage due to allegations of favorable treatment in securing a home loan, according to a new Quinnipiac poll, and is emerging as a prime Republican target in the 2010 election cycle.

The poll, which was released on Tuesday, painted a dire picture for Dodd. Just one in ten (11 percent) said that Dodd definitely deserved reelection while one in three (32 percent) said he definitively did not. Forty one percent of voters approved of the job Dodd is doing while 48 percent did not.

It's clear from the poll results that Dodd's problems are directly tied to his acknowledgment that he received a home loan through Countrywide under a special program -- although he has insisted he received no preferential treatment and was unaware of his special status. (Last week Dodd allowed reporters to see all of the documents tied to the loans and said he would refinance his Countrywide loans through another bank.)

In the poll, roughly three quarters of the sample said they had heard "a lot" (42 percent) or "some" (31 percent) about Dodd's Countrywide problems and, far more troubling for the incumbent, just 24 percent said they were satisfied with his explanation of his involvement with Countrywide while 54 percent said they were not satisfied. Voters also were divided on whether Dodd was honest and trustworthy (41 percent) or not (42 percent).

Neil Newhouse, a leading GOP pollster, declared Dodd's situation dire in a memo prepared for National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair John Cornyn (Texas) and obtained by the Fix.

"Make no mistake, Senator Chris Dodd is definitely feeling the effects of the Countrywide Financial controversy regarding allegations of preferential treatment," wrote Newhouse. "The slippage of his job approval to an all-time low is just the tip of the iceberg for the Senator."

It's clear that Dodd's stature in the state has been significantly reduced over the last few years during which he has weathered the Countrywide scandal as well as quixotic 2008 presidential bid that went absolutely nowhere.

And, Dodd has done himself no favors with a lackluster fundraising effort to date -- collecting just $279,000 over the final three months of 2008 and closing the year with a relatively weak $671,000 in the bank.

But, it's also far too early to write Dodd's political obituary.

First, and most importantly, Republicans don't yet have a serious candidate in the race. Former Reps. Rob Simmons and Chris Shays, who lost reelection in 2006 and 2008, respectively, are both looking at the contest with Simmons the more likely of the two to run, according to informed party strategists.

While Simmons has met with Cornyn in recent weeks, it's not immediately clear whether he is more interested in the Senate race or a run for governor if Jodi Rell (R) decides against running for reelection (not likely).

Dodd allies argue that while Simmons would be a credible candidate, he would also carry a six-year voting record filled with bad votes in line with the Republican majority at the time.

The other major argument in Dodd's favor is the heavily Democratic nature of the Nutmeg State. President Obama carried the state with nearly 61 percent last November and Democrats now control the entire seven-member congressional delegation.

Dodd's last name is legendary in the state -- the result of his own three decades of Senate service as well as the renown of his father, Thomas Dodd, who was a major figure in Connecticut politics in the 1950s and 1960s.

Even Dodd's most loyal defenders acknowledge, however, that he is not in nearly as strong a position as he has been for most of his 30-year career in politics.

Dodd's political fate may well be decided by outside factors over the next two years. As chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Dodd will be at the center of the Obama administration's attempt to stabilize financial markets. If the banking world -- and the economy more generally -- improves, Dodd will be able to take a piece of the credit; if it collapses, Dodd could be in a world of electoral pain.

By Chris Cillizza  |  February 11, 2009; 11:50 AM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Excellent summary. How can the lapdog press cash their checks. Don't they ever feel guilty for collecting pay for non-reporting and non-investigation?

Posted by: leapin | February 12, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

He looks like hell -- maybe he should get a reality show makeover type of thing going as part of the stimpack!

Posted by: newbeeboy | February 12, 2009 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Armpeg, my advice to you is to turn off Rush's show for 10 minutes and clear your head.

The C.R.A. did not cause the economic meltdown... less than 5% of all of the subprime mortgages that were written overall can be traced back to C.R.A.

I realize hating on poor people for this mess gives some people the warm fuzzies, but it is actually inaccurate.

Posted by: jenzinoh | February 11, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse


Could it be that the coordinated, ongoing Bush-Cheney "programs of personal destruction" wiped out so many "targeted" American families that it sent the economy over the edge? OR

Posted by: scrivener50 | February 11, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Cris Dodd, Barney Frank, Maxine Waters, and Chuck Schumer should be in jail for causing the economic mess we're in that will need $850 billion of our tax-dollars to fix. It was they who were promoting the Democrap Socialists "Community Reinvestment Act" that forced Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac, and the banks to give mortgage loans to people who couldn't pay it back. It was they who were threatening these mortgage lenders with law suits for red-lining, discrimination, and racial lending practices if they didn't accept these peoples applications, and even forced them to accept these peoples welfare income and the value of their food stamps as collateral. When President Bush and the Republicans in Congress tried to reign in these fraudulant loans in bills back in 2003 and again in 2005, because they forsaw this meltdown comming, every Democrap Socialist in congress voted AGAINST these bills. What this all boils down to is that the same people now in charge of fixing this economic mess we're in, are the same people who caused it to begin with. The one and only reason that the causes of this economic mess we're in isn't made public knowledge, is because the Main Stream Media is in the hip--pocket of the Democrap Socialists and is protecting them from political fallout.

Posted by: armpeg | February 11, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Dodd is a slimebag and you haven't pointed out 1% of his sins. There is enough evidence of pay for play hardball politics far more outrageous than anything done by "Rod" Blagojevich, outright bribes, and other assorted crimes associated with him and Chuck Schumer that it ought to make people vomit. Sure they're Democrats, but they are self serving crooks first and foremost. Right now, they are up on The Hill, play acting as populists, but for years they have been the 1 and #2 recipients of of huge/obscene amount of money from the financial services industries. Add in the money they received to support guest worker visas like the H1-B and increases in the numbers of those visas in the face of accelerating unemployment by U.S. workers in those jobs and it is hard to see why they aren't turned out in the streets by voters. These are swine, subhuman cockroaches, that have the morals that make even the bank CEO's look downright good.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | February 11, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

OIFVet06 writes
"Any one of us would have been sweating bricks if we had done the same."

No, we wouldn't. Dodd getting a sweetheart deal through the Countrywide VIP program is not illegal. If you or I could get a similar loan, we would have no reason to 'sweat bullets' - in fact, we would be stupid not to take the deal. Where Dodd's behavior becomes questionable is that his committee has oversight responsibilities on Countrywide & the financial industry. Dodd's mistake is in trying to pretend there's not an appearance of a conflict of interests. If he were smart, he would not have accepted the deal in the first place.

Posted by: bsimon1 | February 11, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

We're talking about the same state where Lieberman lost the Democratic primary and won a three-way race as an independent. And that was when the Republican brand name wasn't completely and utterly in the toilet. If the Republicans couldn't win that one what chance do they stand now? Dodd should be more concerned with the Democratic primary than a Republican challenger.

Posted by: caribis | February 11, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Its hard to imagine that Dodd faces a significant chance of losing in a state where Repubs decided to back Lieberman rather than one of their own in order to defeat Lamont.

Posted by: bsimon1 | February 11, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

leapin wrote:
Of course he is not in trouble. First, he's a democrat. Second, even if voted out of office he will make more as a lobbyist/consultant for Countrywide.

~~~~~~ ~~~~~~ ~~~~~~ ~~~~~~
Good observation. Any one of us would have been sweating bricks if we had done the same. Christopher Dodd, Barney Frank and Joe Biden are all up to their eyeballs in the Freddie and Fannie home loan fiasco and the Obama Campaign received enormous contributions by that same "government" agency. What’s with that? Somebody is giving these people assurances that there will be no Congressional inquires, and no Justice Department investigation into wrongdoing on their part. And the beat goes on.

Posted by: OIFVet06 | February 11, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse


First, front-pager about tax issues of Congresspeople...

Then, Chris' story about Dodd (an issue Dodd thoroughly vetted months ago...)

Coming on the heels of Geithner and Daschle tax contretemps (and don't forget about the lady who owned a couple hundred dollars and still withdrew)...

Is there a pattern here? Is the IRS being used as a political weapon, a la Nixon?

Is it possible that these outfits purposely give "special attention" to VIPs... allowing operatives to later use this information against their "targets"?

Interesting how the media runs in packs on this angle.

Chris, don't you think Neil Newhouse was working an agenda when he brought this one to your attention? What's this about "obtained by The Fix"?

He's playing you... so at least raise that issue as a possible motivation for this spate of stories.




OR (if links are corrupted):

Posted by: scrivener50 | February 11, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Of course he is not in trouble. First, he's a democrat. Second, even if voted out of office he will make more as a lobbyist/consultant for Countrywide.

Posted by: leapin | February 11, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

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