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Dodd Goes From Bad To Worse

Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd is facing a serious challenge in his reelection race. (Photo by Win McNamee of Getty)

Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd (D) is in serious trouble in his 2010 race for a sixth term as a new poll shows him badly trailing former Rep. Rob Simmons (R) in a hypothetical general election matchup.

Simmons holds a 50 percent to 34 percent edge over Dodd in the latest Quinnipiac University poll released this morning, a rapid erosion in the Democrat's numbers since last month when a Q poll showed Simmons at 43 percent and Dodd at 42 percent.

Dodd also trails two virtually unknown Republicans -- state Sen. Sam Caliguri and former Ambassador Tom Foley in head to head matchups, a sign that voters seem willing to vote for almost anyone other than Dodd at this point.

Beyond the topline numbers, there is bad news for Dodd almost everywhere you look in the data. Just three in ten voters hold a favorable opinion of him including just 50 percent of self identified Democrats. A whopping 65 percent of independents have an unfavorable view of Dodd while just 22 percent view him favorably.

Dodd's job approval scores aren't any better with just one in three voters approving of how he is handling himself in the Senate and 58 percent disapproving. Back in April 2001, the Q poll had Dodd's job approval at a stratospheric 71 percent -- an indication of just how far he's fallen in the past eight years.

Asked whether they plan to vote for Dodd for reelection, just 35 percent said "definitely" (eight percent) or "probably" (27 percent) while 59 percent said "probably not" (19 percent) or "definitely not" (40 percent).

The poll also makes clear that Dodd's chances at reelection -- already imperiled following his admitted ties to troubled mortgage lender Countrywide and other revelations -- have been further harmed by the recent furor over bonuses paid out to AIG executives.

After initially insisting he did not know how the bonuses exemption made it into the economic stimulus plan, Dodd later acknowledged that he had included he provision at the behest of the Treasury Department.

Ruh roh.

Not only have more than eight in ten (81 percent) Connecticut voters heard a lot of about the AIG bonuses but they also put a large amount of the blame for those bonuses at Dodd's feet. Thirty nine percent of the sample said Dodd deserves "a lot" of the blame for AIG while 35 percent said he deserves "some." Just 21 percent said Dodd should get little or no blame.

Democrats make two basic points about the poll: 1) Dodd's numbers, as a result of the proximity of the AIG scandal to the dates the poll was in the field, are artificially low among Democrats (he wins just 58 percent of his own party against Simmons) and will bounce back once the race begins in earnest 2) Republicans are likely headed to a primary, with Simmons and Caliguri already announced and Foley clearly interested.

All true. But, such thinking is a bit of whistling past the graveyard. Dodd's political persona in the state has been badly damaged over the past few years and it remains an open question as to whether a bounce back is even a possibility.

Today there is no incumbent -- for either party -- more vulnerable than Dodd. (Kentucky Republican Sen. Jim Bunning is close but last we checked there was no poll data showing him behind an announced opponent by 16 points.)

How does Dodd handle these numbers -- by far the worst in his long political career? Does he mull stepping aside, a move that would almost certainly rob Republicans of a pickup opportunity given Connecticut's strong Democratic tendencies? Does a serious primary challenge emerge against him? (State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal would be the strongest candidate but has passed on so many statewide races before it's hard to imagine him challenging Dodd in a primary.) Or does Dodd find a way to right himself and begin what looks to be a long, tough slog for a sixth term?

No matter what happens next, Connecticut is a must-watch race for political junkies for the rest of the cycle.

By Chris Cillizza  |  April 2, 2009; 10:50 AM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Katem - It's clear you attach more weight (respect?) to the term analyst as opposed to columnist (opinionated?). I simply don't. I do a lot of reading of Mac computer sites and "analysts" come up with some real howlers.

I agree with you that Chris shares his opinions. I think he also has good analysis. As for where it's located, Chris's column is always demarked. Just as Dana's and John Kelly's columns are separate from news items. Whether it's on another page or with Will, Krauthammer, Dionne, Marcus, and company, doesn't matter much to me.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | April 3, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: scrivener50 | April 2, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

we generally remove our crooks, even in many cases of simple innuendo. Libs, however promote them to chair and circle the wagons. The difference in the press treatment is noticable.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | April 2, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

"No matter what happens next, Connecticut is a must-watch race for political junkies for the rest of the cycle."

Uhhhh, na ah. I know you were trying to end the article, and that they may be a pain to end sometimes, but if Dodd were to drop out and Blumenthal to announce, it would be his seat and would be extremely boring, a la Warner v. Gilmore 2008.

Posted by: jsperez | April 2, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

bsimon: he's with the President on the 8 day europe trip....
along with 499 others in the entourage.

king---are you saying there are no crooked conservatives?

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 2, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

The DoDo bird is extinct, it's just evolution - many species aren't fit.

Posted by: newbeeboy | April 2, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

BN writes
it's Mister Rahmbo please......"

I was quoting citizenjane. He's Rahm Emmanuel or WH CoS Emmanuel to me.

Posted by: bsimon1 | April 2, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Dear armpit: too much funny stuff here to know where to start: CT voters being "too stupid and uneducated to change horses no matter how matter how many times they get screwed". After 2 terms of Dubya, that idiocy speaks for itself.

Dodd "most responsible for the mess we're in". Again, see Dubya for a place to lay that pile. Tax cuts plus two wars equals goodbye Clintonian surplus. Whatever Dodd is guilty of is just icing on this cr@p cake.

"Socialist" Senators who voted against all "controls". I thought you and all your dittohead friends were against "socialism" because it was all about government control?!

Nice try, armpit, but April Fool's day was yesterday. On the other hand, if you're serious, the cognitive dissonance inside your head must be terrifying.

Posted by: citizenjane | April 2, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Just another crooked lib exposed for what he is. The frightening part is the rest of them that the press won't touch.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | April 2, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Blarg, what you say about CT being a D state makes sense, so much so that I cannot imagine Dodd failing to draw a primary challenge. Two years will not be enough time for CD to walk away from the labels "Countrywide" and "AIG".

I think CD would make a good Peace Corps director.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | April 2, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Dodd will get re-elected by the voters of Conn. because by 2010 the practically all liberal Conn. voters will have forgotten everything about his many scams. Like most of the liberal Democrap Socialist voters of New England, the Conn. voters are too stupid and too uneducated to change horses, no matter how many times they get screwed. Just look at Barney Frank. Here's a guy who was most responsible for the economic mess that we're in, and the Mass. voters keep voting him back into office. Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Chuck Schumer, Maxine Waters, and other Democrat Socialists forced Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac and all the other mortgage companies to give mortgage loans to people who everyone knew couldn't pay them back, with threats of lawsuits for red-linning and racial discrimination. They even forced these companies to accept the welfare money and the value of the food stamps these people were getting as collateral. When President Bush and the Republicans tried to reign in these phoney loans because they forsaw this mess coming back in 2003 and 2005, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton, and all the rest of the Democrap Socialists voted against any controls. EVERY DEMOCRAP SOCIALIST SENATOR VOTED AGAINST ANY CONTROLS!!! Now when the do-do has hit the fan, these same shysters are in control of solving the very economic mess that they caused, having been voted into office by the people too stupid to have learned anything from history. Dodd will get re-elected, and you can take that to the bank!!!

Posted by: armpeg | April 2, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Katem - Analysis IS opinion, at least in a political context. Dodd is behind in hypothetical matches. That's an established fact. He is the most vulnerable incumbent. That is opinion. Burris and Bunning come to mind as alternates, though the Burris seat is unlikely to change parties.

By the way, who is this "we" of which you speak? When you write "to the right", I think you forgot to add "of me".


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | April 2, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

If Dodd has any grace and any sense of decency/obligation to his fellow Democrats and the progressive cause, he will retire.

If he doesn't voluntarily step down, then the Republicans are going to pick up a Senate seat, and with a 60-vote supermajority required these days to get anything significant through the Senate, that could be very bad for the progressive cause.

Even if he gets knocked off by a Democratic primary challenger (where is Lamont in all this?), I wouldn't put it past Dodd to do a Lieberman and run as an Independent, splitting the Democratic vote and opening the door to another Republican. These long-term incumbent senators of both parties are such power-hungry egomaniacs--they think of nothing except their own greater glory.

Maybe Obama should offer Dodd a face-saving ambassadorship. How would he like to go down to Venezuela and tangle with Chavez? Better yet, pack him off to Argentina--the farther away, the better. Of course, that would require Senate confirmation and open the door to all kinds of Republican mischief-making and grandstanding.

Too bad Dodd won't have the sense to just GO AWAY. He's simply one more toxic asset.

Posted by: jm917 | April 2, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

it's Mister Rahmbo please......

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 2, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

yrral: me too--
"After initially insisting he did not know how the bonuses exemption made it into the economic stimulus plan,-------

here's the rub in that statement----
i don't think there was a "bonus exemption" stated in strict language in HR1. If there was, I would like to know where.
The language of "bonus exemption" is tricky (and it may be coming from ONLY the WaPO press room here) to use.
"Honoring contracts" is the language more attuned to that. AIG was honoring contracts so they say.

Also, the language of "economic stimulus plan" is very tricky for the press to use. Mainly because some folks will combine the Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 with HR1 - the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. They are two seperate public laws.

it is a tangled web.

the scuttlebutt is that the treasury had "it covered" --(when this all broke);
1-the economic stabilization act of 2008 opened the door for AIG to "honor contracts" which in turn, manifested in the bonus debacle. AIG honored contractual bonuses that were written in before.
2-dodd amendment to HR1 (actually lost in translation from the original senate amendment 98 --which dodd's amendment was tacked onto)---sees the train wreck of this and hopes to "reverse the bonuses" somehow. AIG comes back and says "hey, we were honoring contracts just like we were supposed to".
3-treasury dept steps in and says "wait senator, we saw this coming with the economic stabilization act of 2008. HR1 is clean because we did NOT address this issue in it.
treasury's counter play (in which they probably told Dodd this) is---
the Budget.
which has now been submitted.

i welcome all comments on this...
(((sly grins)

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 2, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

citizenjane makes the most interesting point thus far:
"Once the you-know-what starting hitting the fan over the AIG bonuses ... someone had to go under that bus of many miles, and if it was a choice between Obama's people at Treasury or Chris Dodd, you can be darn sure that Rahmbo will make sure it's not the latter."

As far as Dodd's reelectiong goes, its too soon for the Dems to start looking for alternatives, but its not too soon for the Repubs to establish the 'time for Dodd to go' storyline.

Posted by: bsimon1 | April 2, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

As others here have noted "at the behest of the Treasury dept" is the operative phrase in this article.

Once the you-know-what starting hitting the fan over the AIG bonuses (and the initial dodge of "we can't abrogate contracts willy-nilly" line that was first proffered is an indication that the WH was caught flat-footed by the anger these bonuses engendered), someone had to go under that bus of many miles, and if it was a choice between Obama's people at Treasury or Chris Dodd, you can be darn sure that Rahmbo will make sure it's not the latter.

Still, if Dodd can't find a way to turn this around soon, he should step aside for the good of the party. The margin for error (and the majority) is too thin. Just look at what the Repubs were able to do to cap-and-trade yesterday!

Amazing that a man who seriously thought he had a shot at the Dem nomination for President just last year may now be ousted from the Senate.

Posted by: citizenjane | April 2, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

In the 2006 Senate election in Connecticut, the Republican candidate won less than 10% of the vote. The Republicans decided to support an independent semi-Democrat rather than their own candidate.

In 2008, Republican Chris Shays lost the House seat he'd held for over 20 years. Every other district went Democratic by at least 20%. The state Senate is 2/3 Democratic, the state House 3/4.

The situation looks bad for Dodd. Sometimes a sufficiently weak candidate can lose even in a state dominated by their party. (Look at Alaska in 2008.) But it's important to remember how weak the Connecticut Republican Party is. Early polls don't tell the whole story.

Posted by: Blarg | April 2, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

I don't disagree with how far Dodd has dropped in the polls, or how bad it 'looks', what I do find annoying and untruthful is this whole title of political analyst that the FIX has going on. It's his opinion, and we have all noticed that, and that he is to the right, which is fine, but why not put this blog where it belongs in OPINION, with Froomkin and his opinion blog, slightly to the left. Chris does write some news articles, and they are normally fine, but calling this OPINION piece news analysses is insulting to our intelligence. He has said in the past that people understand the blog is his opinion, than why not say that in the title, instead of deceiving us with this analyst crap?

Posted by: katem1 | April 2, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse


Have to agree with some of what's below:

Dodd won't run, he'll retire with some dignity left intact. The Dems know he's unelectable now and will start to groom a young, dynamic successor in the Kennedy mold...

Can you say "Tim Shriver"? I believe he's a Connecticut native with a doctorate from UConn.



Take down The American Gestapo -- and purge the saboteurs and Dr. Strangeloves -- before they take us all down.


Posted by: scrivener50 | April 2, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Butter yourself up, Senator Dodd; you are toast. [Of course, once he loses his seat, he'll end up as a lobbyist for Fannie/Freddie/AIG.]

Posted by: CubsFan | April 2, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

"After initially insisting he did not know how the bonuses exemption made it into the economic stimulus plan, Dodd later acknowledged that he had included he provision at the behest of the Treasury Department."

I'm just as outraged about the AIG bonuses as the next person, but iS Sen. Dodd really the bad guy here? Isn't the Treasury Department primarily at fault? They asked for the exemptions to be included. I've read that Dodd wasn't aware of the bonuses at the time the legislation was being written.

Of course Dodd didn't do himself any favors with his handling of the issue, first saying he wasn't aware of the exemption, then acknowledging he introduced it into the bill, but I'm a lot more annoyed at the bright lights at the Treasury Department who thought the exemption was such a good idea in the first place that they asked for it to be included.

Posted by: yrral | April 2, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Could his AIG friends donate their bonus checks to Dodd w/o penalty?

Posted by: las100 | April 2, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse


Let another of the elite Washington Do-Nothing career politicians go away for good. Sen Dodd's accomplishments: uhhhhhh.

Sen Dodd, you've milked the system for all it's worth, now it's time to let another power hungry thug take the reigns!

Posted by: jchar70 | April 2, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

"After initially insisting he did not know how the bonuses exemption made it into the economic stimulus plan, Dodd later acknowledged that he had included he provision at the behest of the Treasury Department"

ruh roh indeed!

it sounds as if Mr. Dodd did not know what he did.
this makes me very "edgy" (for lack of better wording)
do our elected officials actually read the bills, etc.?

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 2, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

The people in Connecticut have confirmed that while most politicians are liars and are self-serving, one cannot be a bald faced liar. A little corruption is fine, but don't insult the folks, eh?

Posted by: Tupac_Goldstein | April 2, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Dodd is Ddod spelled backwards.... how creepy is that?

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | April 2, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

And just think, his good friends at AIG can't make any PAC contributions right now either. How unfair is that?

Posted by: hairguy01 | April 2, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

there is nothing wrong with "time marching on".
it's the paradiagm shift within the out-dated idealogical society that we need at this time.

the old ideas aren't working.
the bow ties can't push their "morays" on us any longer.
no matter what party.
we are hip now.
it was a difficult journey.
and the worst part of this journey is that
you, as you read this,
must believe that this paradiagm shift is for the good.

out with the old
in with the new.
serious times for serious people
smart times for smart people

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 2, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

If Dodd is truly concerned about Obama succeeding and the Democratic party succeeding in their platform, he should immediately announce his retirement and not run in 2010.

Posted by: Nevadaandy | April 2, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Any chance Dems will consider mounting a primary challenge against Dodd?

Posted by: parkerfl1 | April 2, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

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