(CNN) - A new poll of Connecticut voters suggests that Sen. Christopher Dodd's approval rating is on the rise, but still in negative territory.
Forty-three percent of people questioned in a Quinnipiac University survey released Thursday morning say they approve of how Dodd is handling his duties as senator, up ten points from April. Forty-nine percent disapprove of the job Dodd's doing in office, down nine points from April.
The poll suggests Dodd is still struggling with Independent voters, with 56 percent giving the five-term Democratic senator who's up for re-election next year a thumbs down.
Quinnipiac's April poll came out right after the news of Dodd's involvement in the AIG bonus controversy. Since then, a bill Dodd co-sponsored that makes it tougher for credit card issuers to raise feeds and interest rates was signed into law. And Dodd took a leading role in steering health care reform through one of the key congressional committees dealing with the legislation.
According to the survey, Dodd now trails former Rep. Rob Simmons, a possible Republican challenger in the 2010 Senate race, 44 percent to 39 percent. Dodd trailed Simmons by nine points in a Quinnipiac poll conducted in July.
"Sen. Christopher Dodd's approval keeps edging up, and he is bringing down his high negatives. For the first time in six months, his disapproval is under 50 percent, just barely," says Quinnipiac University Poll Director Doug Schwartz. "But the incumbent has made only slight progress against Republican front-runner Rob Simmons. About 40 percent of voters will vote for anybody but Dodd, as evidenced by their willingness to vote for Republican candidates they haven't heard of.
The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted September 10-14, with 921Connecticut registered voters questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.