Addition by subtraction in Connecticut

When Chris Dodd withdrew from his re-election race last week, most of us assumed that the Democrats would get a boost from his retirement.  Did they ever!   In the first Quinnipiac poll in Connecticut since Dodd’s retirement, the new Democratic candidate, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, has a 35-point lead over his nearest Republican challenger:

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has 35 to 47-point leads over three Republican candidates for the 2010 U.S. Senate contest, thumping former wrestling executive Linda McMahon 64 – 23 percent, bruising businessman Peter Schiff 66 – 19 percent and smacking former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons 62 – 27 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Simmons tops McMahon 37 – 27 percent in a Republican primary, with 4 percent for Schiff and 28 percent undecided, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds.

With Dodd out of the way, Connecticut returns to its blue status, even among a large number of Republicans:

In matchups with Republicans, Blumenthal gets 89 to 90 percent of the Democratic voters, 60 to 64 percent of the independent voters and 30 to 38 percent of Republican voters.

Connecticut voters approve 84 – 11 percent of the job Blumenthal is doing as attorney general and give him a 74 – 13 percent favorability rating.

Although I predicted that Democrats would benefit from Dodd’s retirement, the scale of the rollback is rather breathtaking.  Even for Connecticut, one would have predicted some pushback from the radical agenda pursued in Congress over the past year.  Apparently, though, people like Blumenthal so much that those concerns are pushed back to a secondary consideration.

Of course, it’s still early, and Simmons and McMahon have plenty of time to make a case against Blumenthal.  But these numbers make it clear that doing so will be about as much of a long shot as anything we have seen in politics — more so than Scott Brown winning his Massachusetts race.

Meanwhile, Dodd’s retirement didn’t do anything to endear voters to Joe Lieberman:

Connecticut voters disapprove 54 – 39 percent of the job Sen. Joseph Lieberman is doing, one point off his worst grade ever and a steep drop from a 49 – 44 percent approval November 12. Republicans approve 61 – 35 percent while Democrats disapprove 67 – 27 percent and independent voters disapprove 57 – 36 percent.

Barack Obama gets a 55% approval rating in Connecticut, which may explain Blumenthal’s massive lead — although Quinnipiac points out that this is his worst-ever showing in the state.

The bottom line: Democrats appear to have successfully rescued the seat from certain defeat.