When Chris Dodd retired last night his seat went from one of the most vulnerable to one of the safest for Senate Democrats. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal leads all three of the Republicans in the race by at least 30 points in polling we conducted Monday and Tuesday night before Dodd's announcement.
Blumenthal is unusually popular, especially in hyper partisan times when voters like few politicians. 59% have a favorable opinion of him to just 19% who see him negatively. It's no surprise that he's liked by 71% of Democrats and 60% of independents, but even Republicans view him favorably by a 37/35 margin. It doesn't take a lot of hands to count the number of Democratic politicians with positive numbers among GOP voters these days.
Blumenthal leads Rob Simmons 59-28, Linda McMahon 60-28, and Peter Schiff 63-23. It would take an epic collapse for him not to be Connecticut's next Senator.
Blumenthal's numbers in this survey are quite a stark contrast to Dodd's. The incumbent clocks in at just a 29% approval rating, with 57% of the state's voters disapproving of him. Even in his own party only 45% of respondents express support for him with independents and Republicans giving him ratings of 24 and 7% respectively. He trailed Simmons for the 11th consecutive time in a publicly released poll, 44-40, and also found himself locked in a tie with McMahon at 43.
Although it's not particularly pertinent now with Blumenthal in the race we also found Chris Murphy leading Simmons and McMahon by 7 point margins, despite the fact that a 49% plurality of voters in the state said they didn't know enough about him to have formed an opinion. That's an indication that the strong poll numbers Simmons and McMahon were posting were completely a result of Dodd's unpopularity, and that any other major Democratic office holder in the state would be favored to keep the seat in the party's hands.
The Connecticut Senate seat is certainly one situation for Democrats where a retirement is a good thing. And while Dodd may have wanted to continue his tenure, getting out now ensures that he'll be remembered more for his 30 years of service in the Senate than for losing his final reelection bid.
Full results here