United States Senate election in Connecticut, 2010
The 2010 United States Senate election in Connecticut was a midterm election which took place on November 2, 2010 to decide a Class III Senator from the State of Connecticut to join the 112th United States Congress. Incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd suffered from dropping approval ratings in the past few years due to major controversies, leading him to announce in January 2010 that he would retire, instead of seeking a sixth term. As Dodd was a Democrat, Richard Blumenthal, incumbent State Attorney General, announced on the same day that he would run for Dodd’s seat. The Connecticut Democratic Party nominated Blumenthal on May 21. Businesswoman Linda McMahon won the state party's nominating convention and the August 10 Republican primary to become the Republican candidate.
|Turnout||45.9% (voting eligible)|
Dodd's decline in popularityEdit
Chris Dodd's power and popularity may have deteriorated for at least three reasons since his last re-election:
- His poor performance in his bid for the 2008 Democratic Presidential nomination appears to have soured local voters. Dodd was criticized for moving to Iowa and neglecting his Senate duties to pursue what many in Connecticut saw as a hopeless campaign. That poll, showing Dodd's job approval at 51% was taken before the scandals.
- Dodd received mortgage loans as part of the "Friends of Angelo Mozilo" program run by subprime mortgage lender Countrywide Financial. The Hartford Courant reported that Dodd had taken a "major credibility hit" from this scandal. A later poll in September 2008 showed Dodd's job approval declining to 43%, with 46% terming his job performance as "fair" or "poor".
- On March 18, Dodd admitted responsibility for adding provisions in the 2009 stimulus package that allowed for controversial employee bonuses. He had previously denied responsibility, saying the Administration pushed for the bonus clauses. Dodd only admitted wrongdoing after an unnamed source within the Treasury Department provided insider information to CNN. On March 19, after Dodd came forward, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner took full responsibility, saying he pushed Dodd against executive bonus limits.
In December 2008, it was reported that Dodd had a little less than $670,000 banked for a re-election campaign, far less than other senators anticipated to seek re-election. In February 2009, a poll indicated that Dodd's favorability ratings were slipping, and many Connecticut voters were not satisfied with Dodd's explanations regarding the mortgage.
On March 2, 2009, noted pundit Michael Barone suggested Dodd was "ripe for the picking" in the 2010 election due to the fallout from his various controversies. Nate Silver of the prominent website FiveThirtyEight suggested that if necessary, another Connecticut Democrat should primary Dodd. Silver rated Dodd as the single most vulnerable incumbent senator up for re-election in 2010. On December 10, 2009 the Cook Political Report listed this race as "Lean Republican."
Many political leaders speculated Dodd could be persuaded to retire so as to preserve his "senior statesman" legacy. Fellow Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman had indicated that he would have supported Dodd's reelection, despite past disagreements, including Dodd's 2006 endorsement of Ned Lamont and Lieberman's support of John McCain's 2008 Presidential Campaign.
In fundraising reports issued for the first quarter of 2009, Dodd reported having raised over $1 million, but reported only five contributions from Connecticut residents.
A March 2009 Quinnipiac University Polling Institute poll confirmed Dodd's vulnerability. On April 2, 2009 Quinnipiac released a poll indicating Dodd in serious danger of losing re-election, despite the fact that Connecticut is a heavily blue state that President Obama won in 2008 with over 60% of the vote.
He failed to attain a 50% level of support against three lesser known possible Republican opponents. Former U.S. Congressman Rob Simmons (R) in particular was leading in general election polling with double digit margins, and Simmons reached as high as 51% in a GQR poll. Notably, Rasmussen Reports had Simmons 48% to 35% over Dodd in December 2009, a thirteen-point spread.
- Richard Blumenthal, state Attorney General
- Merrick Alpert, former aide to David Walters and Al Gore
- Lee Whitnum, businesswoman
Merrick Alpert announced his candidacy to challenge current Senator Chris Dodd in May 2009. Facing grave prospects at re-election, Dodd announced his retirement from the Senate on January 6, 2010. Richard Blumenthal, the Attorney General and former State Senator announced he would be running.
Merrick Alpert and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal squared-off in a March 1 debate highlighting important issues. On healthcare, Alpert revealed that he supports a single-payer system. Blumenthal explained that pool-purchasing powers should be explored. Alpert presented information as to how insurance rates have skyrocketed in Connecticut since the Attorney General took office. On the topic of war, Blumenthal pledged his support of President Obama's current plan. Alpert expressed that, being a former peacekeeper in Bosnia, he understands what policies work and which ones do not. The current one does not. Alpert set out a plan for the withdrawal of troops from the current war in Afghanistan. On a question concerning relations with Cuba, Blumenthal explained that it would take time, and that he would put together a panel of Cuban-American people to decide the best course of action. Alpert explained that he would vote on the issue that night.
|Poll source||Dates administered||Richard Blumenthal||Merrick Alpert||Lee Whitnum||Undecided|
|Quinnipiac||January 8–12, 2010||84%||4%||––||12%|
|Quinnipiac||March 9–15, 2010||81%||6%||––||13%|
Blumenthal won the convention overwhelmingly, disallowing any other candidate to get at least 15% of the vote necessary to get on the primary ballot. Therefore, Blumenthal went uncontested within the Democratic Party and officially became the Democratic nominee.
- Linda McMahon (campaign) - businesswoman
- Ethan Book, businessman - petitioned for placement in the Republican primary, but likely fell short. He sought to run as an independent or minor party candidate.
- Vincent Forras, founder and CEO of Phoenix Group and founder of the 9/11 charity, "Gear-Up, Inc." He sought to run as an independent or minor party candidate.
- Peter Schiff, securities dealer and investment advisor, economic adviser to Ron Paul's 2008 presidential campaign. Endorsed by the Tea Party.
- Rob Simmons, former U.S. Congressman
On February 27, 2009, Commentary magazine reported that various Washington, D.C. Republicans were seeking to get Larry Kudlow, a popular TV talk show host and columnist, to enter the race against Dodd. State Senator Sam Caligiuri originally planned to run the U.S. Senate, but after doing poorly in both primary and general election polling he decided to drop out and instead run the U.S. House of Representatives in the 5th District. Tom Foley also left the race to instead run for Governor of Connecticut, as incumbent Governor M. Jodi Rell is not seeking re-election.
After the Quinnipiac poll that showed him edging Dodd in a potential matchup, Simmons decided to officially enter the race. Upon his announcement, the DSCC attacked Simmons for his past support of George W. Bush and ties to Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay. A leading state political blogger, who had endorsed Simmons' opponent in 2006, questioned whether these issues were relevant to the 2010 race. Simmons suspended his campaign after he lost the convention, but did not publicly endorse McMahon. In late July, Simmons revived his effort with a TV ad reminding Connecticut Republicans that "I'm still on the ballot."
McMahon, a billionaire, spent slightly more than $21 million through July 2010. Her two primary opponents each spent slightly more than $2.5 million each. When the Republican primary was held on August 10, frontrunner and party-endorsed candidate McMahon defeated Simmons and Schiff to become the official GOP nominee for the fall election against Richard Blumenthal.
|Poll source||Dates administered||Rob Simmons||Linda McMahon||Peter Schiff|
|Research 2000||September 8–10, 2009||38%||––||1%|
|Quinnipiac||September 10–14, 2009||43%||––||2%|
|Quinnipiac||November 3–8, 2009||28%||17%||5%|
|Moore Information||December 15–16, 2009||35%||37%||4%|
|Quinnipiac||January 8–12, 2010||37%||27%||4%|
|Quinnipiac||March 9–15, 2010||34%||44%||9%|
|Research 2000||May 24–26, 2010||44%||48%||––|
|Quinnipiac||May 24–25, 2010||23%||49%||11%|
|Quinnipiac||June 2–8, 2010||29%||45%||13%|
|Quinnipiac||July 7–13, 2010||25%||52%||13%|
|Quinnipiac||July 28 – August 2, 2010||30%||47%||14%|
|Quinnipiac||August 3–8, 2010||28%||50%||15%|
* Denotes candidate met the minimum threshold of 15 percent to appear on the primary ballot
** Peter Schiff collected 10,000 signatures to be placed on the ballot via petition.
- Richard Blumenthal (D), state Attorney General
- John Mertens (CFL), professor of engineering
- Warren Mosler (I), economist and entrepreneur
- Linda McMahon (R), businesswoman
The first debate between Linda McMahon and Richard Blumenthal in the 2010 Senate race occurred on October 4, 2010, moderated by Fox News Channel anchor Bret Baier and televised live on Fox Connecticut. In the debate, McMahon identified Blumenthal as a career politician, touted her job creation record while CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, criticized Washington partisanship for Republicans not being invited to the negotiating table during healthcare reform discussions in Congress, and stated that remaining stimulus dollars were a waste that should now be used to pay down debt. Blumenthal as well criticized partisanship, saying that he would have sided with Republicans who voted against the Troubled Assets Relief Program. He also used the debate to argue that middle class tax cuts should not have to wait for current tax rates on top income earners to be extended, stated that he would oppose special interests in Washington, and criticized McMahon for outsourcing WWE products overseas.
The Greater Norwalk Chamber of Commerce, Bridgeport Regional Business Council, and Business Council of Fairfield County sponsored a second debate in Norwalk on October 7. It was aired on News 12 Connecticut.
|Cook Political Report||Lean D||November 1, 2010|
|Rothenberg||D favored||October 31, 2010|
|RealClearPolitics||Leans D||October 31, 2010|
|Sabato's Crystal Ball||Leans D||October 28, 2010|
|CQ Politics||Leans D||November 1, 2010|
|Rasmussen Reports||Leans D||November 1, 2010|
|Poll source||Dates administered||Richard Blumenthal (D)||Linda McMahon (R)|
|Public Policy Polling||January 4–5, 2010||60%||28%|
|Rasmussen Reports||January 6, 2010||58%||34%|
|YouGovPolimetrix||January 6–11, 2010||47%||35%|
|Quinnipiac||January 8–12, 2010||64%||23%|
|Daily Kos/Research 2000||January 11–13, 2010||56%||34%|
|Rasmussen Reports||February 1, 2010||56%||36%|
|Rasmussen Reports||March 2, 2010||60%||31%|
|Quinnipiac||March 9–15, 2010||61%||28%|
|Rasmussen Reports||April 7, 2010||55%||35%|
|Rasmussen Reports||May 4, 2010||52%||39%|
|Rasmussen Reports||May 18, 2010||48%||45%|
|Quinnipiac||May 24–25, 2010||56%||31%|
|Daily Kos/Research 2000||May 24–26, 2010||52%||33%|
|Rasmussen Reports||June 1, 2010||56%||33%|
|Quinnipiac||June 2–8, 2010||55%||35%|
|Quinnipiac||July 7–13, 2010||54%||37%|
|Rasmussen Reports||July 15, 2010||53%||40%|
|Quinnipiac||July 28 – August 2, 2010||50%||40%|
|Rasmussen Reports||August 11, 2010||47%||40%|
|Rasmussen Reports||September 9, 2010||53%||44%|
|Quinnipiac||September 8–12, 2010||51%||45%|
|Quinnipiac||September 21–26, 2010||49%||46%|
|Rasmussen Reports||September 26, 2010||50%||45%|
|Public Policy Polling||September 30 – October 2, 2010||53%||41%|
|CNN/Time/Opinion Research||October 1–5, 2010||54%||41%|
|Fox News/Pulse Opinion Research||October 2, 2010||52%||42%|
|Greenberg Quinlan Rosner||October 3–4, 2010||53%||38%|
|CT Capitol Report/Merriman River Group||October 3, 2010||52.4%||44.7%|
|Rasmussen Reports||October 5, 2010||54%||43%|
|Fox News/Pulse Opinion Research||October 9, 2010||49%||43%|
|Quinnipiac||October 7–11, 2010||54%||43%|
|Rasmussen Reports||October 14, 2010||51%||46%|
|Suffolk University[permanent dead link]||October 19–20, 2010||57%||39%|
|Quinnipiac University||October 18–24, 2010||54%||42%|
|Rasmussen Reports||October 24, 2010||56%||43%|
|CT Capitol Report/Merriman River Group||October 24–26, 2010||51.8%||43.8%|
|Public Policy Polling||October 27–29, 2010||54%||43%|
|Quinnipiac University||October 25–31, 2010||53%||44%|
|Rasmussen Reports||October 31, 2010||53%||46%|
|Candidate (party)||Receipts||Disbursements||Cash on hand||Debt||As of|
|Richard Blumenthal (D)||$8,690,397||$8,663,221||$27,176||$2,621,525||November 22, 2010|
|Linda McMahon (R)||$50,232,567||$49,942,727||$289,839||$500,000||November 22, 2010|
- Source: Federal Election Commission
|Republican||Linda E. McMahon||498,341||43.22%||+11.08%|
|Independent||Warren B. Mosler||11,275||0.98%||N/A|
|Connecticut for Lieberman||Dr. John Mertens||6,735||0.58%||N/A|
|Write-in||Write-in candidates (8)||724||0.06%||N/A|
Note: Blumenthal also appeared on the line of the Connecticut Working Families Party and received 30,836 votes on it. His Working Families and Democratic votes have been aggregated together on this table.
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