A new Quinnipiac poll released today shows that five-term Connecticut senator Chris Dodd still trails leading Republican challenger Ron Simmons 45-39 percent in the 2010 race. As I discussed in my recent story on Dodd, his numbers started to plummet in the wake of the furor over the AIG bonus scandal. (Dodd chairs the Senate Banking Committee, and while he originally opposed the bonuses, the Obama administration pressured him to let them through.) Though Dodd seems to be making up a bit of electoral ground (he trailed Simmons by 16 points in April), his approval ratings remain distressingly low: Connecticut voters disapprove 53-38 percent of the job that he is doing, barely budging from the all-time low of 58-33 percent that he polled on April 2. "Dodd appears to have stopped the bleeding," Quinnipiac poll director Douglas Schwartz said in a press release today. "But he still has a long way to go to restore the trust of Connecticut's voters."
For those who disapprove, 24 percent list Dodd's overall dishonesty or lack of integrity, with 17 percent who cite his failure to deal with banking industry problems and 11 percent who point specifically to the Countrywide mortgage deal.
Dodd, for his part, has been trying his damndest to play up his credentials as a progressive reformer as he's crisscrossed the state to reach out to voters. He's been bolstered by at least one major victory: His monumental credit card reform bill passed Congress this month. Speaking about the bill, Obama himself gave Dodd a shout-out as a "relentless fighter" who has spent his career "fighting against special interests and fighting for ordinary people." Ultimately, Dodd's survival will depend on whether he can manage to hammer this message home and redeem himself in the eyes of Connecticut voters.
Suzy Khimm is a senior editor at The New Republic.