Chris Dodd may be the first political casualty of the bailout of AIG.
The powerful head of the Senate banking committee is in “severe political danger,” according to Politico. In the most recent Quinnipiac poll Dodd trails former GOP congressman Rob Simmons by 16 points, 50 to 34 per cent. Among independent voters, Simmons leads Dodd by 31 points — 56 to 25 per cent. Dodd is up for re-election in November 2010.
Dodd has served in the Senate since 1981, making him the longest serving Senator in the state’s history. His father, Thomas Dodd, was elected to the Senate by Connecticut voters in 1958. He served until 1970 but was censured by the Senate in the late sixties for using political contributions for personal reasons.
This is basically an almost unprecedented political revolt against a 30 year incumbent in a heavily Democratic state. Dodd’s popularity had been badly hurt in the last year, in particular by his ties to Countrywide. But the AIG bailout and bonuses seems to have amplified voter anger.
Dodd’s approval ratings are in the tank, with 58 per cent of Connecticut voters disapproving of his job performance and only 33 per cent viewing him favourably. He doesn’t even have support within his own party – only 51 per cent of Democrats approve of him.
“A 33 per cent job approval is unheard of for a 30-year incumbent, especially a Democrat in a blue state. Sen. Christopher Dodd’s numbers among Democrats are especially devastating,” said Quinnipiac pollster Douglas Schwartz.
Voters are taking their anger out on Dodd for his involvement in legislation that allowed AIG executives to receive millions in bonuses. A whopping 74 per cent of voters said they blamed Dodd for the bonuses. Meanwhile, 54 per cent said they don’t believe Dodd is honest and trustworthy.
For now Democrats are saying they won’t ask Dodd to step aside, although the very fact that this is being seriously discussed and denied is stunning. Nate Silver, the famous internet political stats guru, thinks it might be wise for the Democrats to hold a primary and nominate a new candidate.
It’s nice to entertain the notion that there may be political consequences for the terrible AIG bailout. Maybe the Democracy bubble hasn’t burst after all.
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