Quinnipiac’s first eye-opening poll of the day:
Former Connecticut Congressman Rob Simmons has an early lead in the Republican primary race for the 2010 U.S. Senate contest and runs better than any other challenger against Sen. Christopher Dodd, topping the Democratic incumbent 49 – 38 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
Former World Wrestling Entertainment executive Linda McMahon gets 43 percent to Sen. Dodd’s 41 percent, the independent Quinnipiac University poll finds.
Even potential Republican contenders with almost no name recognition and almost no Republican primary voter support give Dodd a run for his money.
Simmons leads a Republican primary matchup with 28 percent, followed by McMahon with 17 percent. No other contender tops 9 percent and 36 percent are undecided.
Connecticut voters disapprove 54 – 40 percent of the job Dodd is doing, compared to a 49 – 43 percent disapproval September 17, and say 53 – 39 percent that he does not deserve reelection.
Next up, I expect Dodd will call his opponents “fat.”
The campaigns are crowing.
Jim Barnett, campaign manager for Simmons for Senate, issued this statement:
Today’s polling shows that despite millions spent by other candidates on advertising, which Rob Simmons has yet to air, he stands alone as the clear frontrunner for the Republican nomination and is the only GOP candidate holding a commanding lead in a head-to-head challenge against Senator Dodd.
Voters in Connecticut understand that Rob Simmons has dedicated his entire life to public service – as an Army veteran, elected official and as Connecticut’s Business Advocate – and he is uniquely qualified to help solve the difficult challenges confronting the state and nation. Although very encouraging, the only poll that counts is on Election Day, and it is Rob Simmons’ demonstrated grassroots support that will ultimately carry the day and bring victory for Republicans and real change for Connecticut.
Meanwhile, McMahon campaign spokesman Ed Patru released this statement:
We are pleased and encouraged with the results of this poll. In less than two months since Linda became a candidate for the U.S. Senate, she has risen from a virtual unknown, to a serious contender in this primary contest. In that time, Linda has attended more than 110 events around the state. Her commitment to meeting with party leaders, activists and voters across this state is paying off. She is without question the candidate with momentum.
People want a Senator in Washington who understands how to create jobs and grow the economy, and Republicans deserve a nominee whose commitment to fiscal conservatism doesn’t waver from week to week, but is instead principled and consistent. Linda’s determination to reduce federal spending, bring the federal debt under control and restore trust in government is clearly resonating. And it’s very clear Connecticut Republicans are becoming increasingly aware that, more than anyone else, Linda is building a campaign capable of defeating Sen. Chris Dodd’s special interest-funded campaign machinery.
UPDATE: The campaign of Tom Foley e-mails me to remind me that Quinnipiac shows their guy beating Dodd, 47 percent to 40 percent.