Dodd Trails Potential GOP Opponents in 2010 Race, Poll Shows

Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd is trailing several potential Republican challengers in the 2010 Senate race, according to a new state poll which shows the veteran Democratic lawmaker suffering from fallout over the AIG bonuses. 

The Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday shows Dodd with record low approval ratings. Just 33 percent of Connecticut voters approve of the job Dodd is doing in the Senate. 

The numbers foretell a challenging race for the five-term senator in 2010. In one matchup, the survey shows Dodd trailing former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, an announced rival, 50 to 34 percent. 

In two other matchups, Dodd trails state Sen. Sam Caligiuri, 41 to 37 percent, and former ambassador Tom Foley, 43 to 35 percent. 

Dodd's job approval rating stands at 33 percent, a dip from 44 percent in a March 10 poll

That is "especially devastating" considering he is a longtime incumbent Democrat in a solidly blue state, poll director Douglas Schwartz said.

Simmons, who acknowledged that his standing against Dodd could fluctuate drastically over the next year and a half, said it's still "exciting to start not only even but way ahead." 

He said Dodd's numbers are a reflection of the controversy over the $165 million in bonuses doled out by American International Group -- the insurance giant that distributed the bonuses despite being bailed out by the federal government to the tune of more than $180 billion. Some employees have since pledged to return their bonus money. 

"This is a historic low (for Dodd's numbers), but these are historic times," Simmons said. "People up here feel he has abdicated his responsibility."

Dodd is chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee and took heat for a provision added to the February stimulus bill that exempted previously negotiated bonuses at companies like AIG from certain pay restrictions. 

The Quinnipiac survey shows 27 percent of state voters believe Dodd is most to blame for the bonuses, while 28 percent pin the blame on former President George W. Bush

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was the top scapegoat for 20 percent, while 7 percent blamed President Obama

The poll surveyed 1,181 registered Connecticut voters and had a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.  The poll was conducted between March 26-31.