Quinnipiac polls in Ohio and Connecticut have plenty of bad news for Democrats in two key 2010 Senate races. In Ohio Republican Rob Portman, former Congressman and OMB Director, leads Democratic Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher 39%-36% and Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner 38%-34%. This is a reversal of the lead from previous Quinnipiac polls. Barack Obama’s job approval is negative, 40%-45%, down from 53%-42% in September. Ohio voters disapprove of Obama’s performance on the economy 42%-53% and on health care by a sizzling 36%-57%. These are singing numbers in a state Obama carried 52%-47% and George W. Bush carried 51%-49% in 2004. Quinnipiac also reported that incumbent Democratic Governor Ted Strickland and Republican former Congressman John Kasich are tied 40%-40%. Pretty bad numbers for Democrats in a bellwether state.
In Connecticut Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd remains in political trouble. After representing the state for 29 years in the Senate, and having represented the eastern Connecticut 2nd congressional district for six years before that, only 40% of his state’s voters approve of his performance and 54% disapprove. That’s in a state which Barack Obama carried 61%-38%. Dodd’s approval numbers look a lot like those of defeated New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine.
There’s lots of bad news here for Dodd. In a Democratic primary pairing against an utterly unknown opponent he gets only 55% of the vote—a stunningly low number for a longtime incumbent. In general election pairings he loses 49%-38% to former Congressman Rob Simmons and by a 58%-38% margin in the three eastern counties which he has represented in the Senate or House for 35 years. Obama carried those counties by a 59%-39% margin. Interestingly, Dodd is weaker in this downscale, usually Democratic-leaning area than in higher-income Fairfield County, where he runs even against Simmons. Against four other, lesser-known Republican candidates, Dodd does not top 42% of the vote.
Is the health care issue hurting Democrats in key Senate races? Sure looks like it.