Poll: Dodd making up ground on Simmons

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), facing the most uphill reelection fight of his career, gained ground against his GOP challenger in the last month, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The Quinnipiac University Poll found that Dodd trails former Rep. Rob Simmons (R) by 39 percent to 45 percent margin. That's good news for Dodd, who trailed Simmons by a 34 to 50 percent margin in an April 2 poll.

Dodd has been plagued by several public relations disasters in the past couple months that quickly made him a top target for the GOP next year. First, news broke that Dodd appeared to receive so-called VIP mortgages from Countrywide Financial. Then Dodd got the brunt of the blame for a loophole in the stimulus package that allowed AIG to pay out $165 million in bonuses.

The April 2 poll was taken shortly after the outrage over the bonuses came to a head. Wednesday's poll appears to suggest Dodd is no longer in free fall.

"Dodd appears to have stopped the bleeding," said Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz. "But he still has a long way to go to restore the trust of Connecticut's voters."

There is still plenty in the poll to give Dodd cause for concern, though. Simmons continues to lead Dodd among independents by a 53 percent to 30 percent margin. More, 53 percent continue to disapprove of Dodd's job performance and his favorability ratings are upside down, with 37 percent viewing him favorably and 51 percent viewing him unfavorably.

And on top of that, nearly half - 49 percent - said Dodd is not honest and trustworthy.

But a majority - 56 percent - said Dodd has strong leadership qualities and half said he pays attention to the needs of Connecticut.

"Dodd's numbers are getting better but they are still lousy," Schwartz said. "But Dodd is an exceptionally skilled politician, and he has plenty of time. He is lucky to get this early warning more than a year before the election."

Be sure to check out Aaron Blake's recent interview with Dodd about how he is going back repairing his image in Connecticut here.

jeremy.jacobs@thehill.com

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