(CNN) – There's new evidence today that Senator Chris Dodd is in political trouble back home in Connecticut.
Only one out of three Connecticut voters questioned in a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday approve of the job Dodd's doing as senator, his lowest approval rating ever. Fifty-eight percent disapprove of how Dodd's handling his duties, up 14 points from last month.
The five term Democratic senator is up for re-election in November of next year and the poll indicates that Dodd trails former Republican Congressman Rob Simmons, a potential Republican challenger, 50 percent to 34 percent. Dodd trailed Simmons were basically deadlocked in Quinnipiac's poll from early last month.
Matched against two other possible Republican challengers, the poll suggests that Dodd trails both State Sen. Sam Caligiuri by four points and former ambassador Tom Foley by eight points.
Fifty-nine percent of those questioned say they will definitely or probably vote against Dodd in 2010.
The Senate Banking Committee Chairman has come under fire over his admission that he added a loophole into the stimulus package that allowed embattled insurance giant AIG and other companies that received taxpayer bailout money to pay millions of dollars in bonuses to their employees. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has told CNN his department asked Dodd to include the loophole in the stimulus bill.
"Three-quarters of those polled say they blame Dodd for the fact that the AIG bonuses were paid," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "That includes two-thirds of the Democrats questioned."
Republicans have highlighted Dodd's involvement in the AIG bonuses controversy as well as his political contributions from AIG. They also bring up an ethics panel investigation into discount mortgages Dodd allegedly received from Countrywide Financial Corp., a big lending company in the middle of the home foreclosure crisis. Dodd says he was unaware of the discounts.
The GOP also says Dodd concentrated in 2007 on running for the Democratic presidential nomination when he should have concentrated on his duties as Banking Committee chairman.
"It's possible that Dodd's run for the White House may have lost him some support in Connecticut," Holland adds. "His approval rating was at 60 percent before he started his presidential campaign, but was down to 51 percent after he bowed out of the race in 2008. That alone might not have hurt his chances to be re-elected to his Senate seat, but it may have softened him up for a hit on another front, such as the AIG controversy."
The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted March 26-31, with 1,181 Connecticut registered votes questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.