(CNN) - A new poll spells more trouble for Sen. Chris Dodd's bid for re-election.
A Quinnipiac University survey released Thursday morning suggests that 54 percent of Connecticut voters disapprove of the job Dodd's doing as their senior U.S. senator, with 4 in 10 giving him a thumbs up. The 54 percent disapproval rating is up 5 points from September. The poll also indicates that by 53 percent to 39 percent, Connecticut voters don't think the five term Democrat deserves to be re-elected next year.
According to the survey, Dodd is losing or tied with all of his potential Republican challengers in hypothetical 2010 general election matchups. Former Rep. Rob Simmons leads Dodd by 11 points, with former World Wrestling Entertainment executive Linda McMahon, new to the race, 2 points ahead of the incumbent senator. The poll indicates that former ambassador Tom Foley leads Dodd by seven points, with Sam Caligiuri and Peter Schiff in a statistical tie with Dodd. In a hypothetical Republican primary, the survey suggests that Simmons has the early lead.
"After inching up in the polls for months, Sen. Christopher Dodd is sliding back down again on job approval. He continues to struggle with independent voters as 60 percent disapprove of the way he is handling his job. President Barack Obama is still popular with independents, but voters say that his support of Dodd won't affect their Senate vote," says Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz.
"Health care is an issue that should work for Sen. Dodd. Voters who tell us it's the most important issue side with him. But voters who care most about the economy say the Republican candidate will be better able to deal with it. If the economy worsens, this will hurt Dodd," adds Schwartz.
Dodd's approval rating in Quinnipiac polling bottomed out at 33 percent earlier this year, after the news of his 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.
"Health care is an issue that should work for Sen. Dodd. Voters who tell us it's the most important issue side with him. But voters who care most about the economy say the Republican candidate will be better able to deal with it. If the economy worsens, this will hurt Dodd," says Schwartz.
"We'll see lots of polls over the course of this campaign, some accurate, and some not. In truth, we have a hard time believing Chris Dodd has done anything but strengthen his political position based on his well-publicized and heroic work on healthcare reform, tightening our country's financial regulations and protecting consumers," says Colleen Flanagan, Communications Director for the Connecticut Democratic Party.
The Quinnpiac University poll was conducted November 3-8, with 1,236 Connecticut registered voters questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.
- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report
Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn