From NBC's Chuck Todd
If you needed any more evidence that Republicans are starting to collectively believe Chris Dodd is the single most vulnerable Democratic senator seeking re-election, here's yet another leaked poll. This survey, conducted by the GOP firm Wilson Research Strategies, was conducted last week on behalf of potential Republican candidate Peter Schiff, a financial commentator who was credited with predicting the current economic downturn.
Here are the bare bones of the survey among 400 likely voters:
-- Dodd leads Schiff 42-38.
-- Former Rep. Rob Simmons (who is already announced and raising money and is the NRSC's preferred candidate) leads Dodd 47-38.
Taking the poll at face value, here's what I see: There is a strong anti-Dodd sentiment out there if a guy with very little name I.D. came end up in a statistical tie with Dodd. It conforms with other public surveys we've seen where Dodd is struggling. Simmons, with a tad more name I.D., not surprisingly, has a bigger lead.
Of course, Democrats are ecstatic that Simmons could end up in a primary with Schiff. But let's stay on the big picture. These numbers are just not good for Dodd. Even if you want to believe this Republican poll has a pinky on the scale in its weighting on behalf of the Republicans, the results are still not comforting to Dodd. He's been on TV already trying to improve his personal ratings and he still trails any generic Republican in a state that is now considered VERY blue.
The White House has been doing plenty of little things to help Dodd, allowing him to be out front on a number of agenda items, including financial regulatory reform and health care. It's amazing how many times I've heard Pres. Obama name drop Dodd at public events.
My educated guess on where this race goes from here: Dodd and his folks will take a serious look at his political standing in the state in November and if progress has been made, it will embolden the incumbent that if he works hard enough, he can win.
But if this early advertising doesn't improve his numbers and voters still have a cynical view of Dodd and whether he was too out of touch on the economic crisis, don't be surprised if the holidays become a time of political soul-searching for Sen. Dodd. It's a complicated personal issue for Dodd as he doesn't want to be chased out of office like his father, Thomas Dodd, was. And that personal complication is something no political consultant or pollster can understand. BTW, expect the president to be very helpful for Dodd, whether it's campaign help, or offering a job (Peace Corps Director?) in order to provide him a soft landing.