United States Senate election in Connecticut, 2010

United States Senate election in Connecticut, 2010
United States Senate election in Connecticut, 2010
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November 2, 2010
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  Richard Blumenthal, official portrait, 112th Congress.jpg Linda McMahon Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic.jpg
Nominee Richard Blumenthal Linda McMahon
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 636,040 498,341
Percentage 55.2% 43.2%

Connecticut Senatorial Election Results by County, 2010.svg

County results

U.S. Senator before election

Chris Dodd

Elected U.S. Senator

Richard Blumenthal

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.[1] As Dodd was a Democrat, Richard Blumenthal, incumbent State Attorney General, announced on the same day that he would run for Dodd’s seat.[2] 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.[3]


Dodd's decline in popularity


Chris Dodd's power and popularity may have deteriorated for at least three reasons since his last re-election:

  1. His poor performance in his bid for the 2008 Democratic Presidential nomination appears to have soured local voters.[4] 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.
  2. 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".[5]
  3. 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.[6] On March 19, after Dodd came forward, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner took full responsibility, saying he pushed Dodd against executive bonus limits.[7]

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.[8] 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.[9]

On March 17, 2009, the NRSC released a web ad attacking Dodd for his Irish cottage, his mortgage, and his relocation to Iowa in 2007.[10]

Election troubles

U.S. Senator Chris Dodd
Chris Dodd faced rising Disapproval ratings during his Senate term throughout '09 - '10

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.[11] 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.[12] On December 10, 2009 the Cook Political Report listed this race as "Lean Republican."

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Susan Bysiewicz was quoted suggesting Dodd's yet unannounced re-election bid could be a drag on the candidacies of other Connecticut Democrats in 2010.[13]

Many political leaders speculated Dodd could be persuaded to retire so as to preserve his "senior statesman" legacy.[14] 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[15] 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.[16]


A March 2009 Quinnipiac University 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.[17][18][19] 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.[20] Notably, Rasmussen Reports had Simmons 48% to 35% over Dodd in December 2009, a thirteen point spread.[21]

Democratic nomination




Merrick Alpert announced his candidacy to challenge current Senator Chris Dodd in May 2009.[23] Facing grave prospects at re-election, Dodd announced his retirement from the Senate on January 6, 2010.[22] 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.[24]


Poll source Dates administered Richard Blumenthal Merrick Alpert Lee Whitnum Undecided
Quinnipiac March 9–15, 2010 81% 6% –– 13%
Quinnipiac January 8–12, 2010 84% 4% –– 12%


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.[25][26][27]

Republican nomination



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.[32] 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 has 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 barely edging Dodd in a potential matchup, Simmons decided to officially enter the race.[33] Upon his announcement, the DSCC attacked Simmons for his past support of George W. Bush and ties to Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay.[34] A leading state political blogger, who had endorsed Simmons' opponent in 2006, questioned whether these issues were relevant to the 2010 race.[35] 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.[36] 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.[3]


On March 2, 2010, Republican candidates Linda McMahon, Rob Simmons, and Peter Schiff participated in the first debate of the GOP campaign on Fox 61.[37]


Poll source Dates administered Rob Simmons Linda McMahon Peter Schiff
Quinnipiac August 3–8, 2010 28% 50% 15%
Quinnipiac July 28-August 2, 2010 30% 47% 14%
Quinnipiac July 7–13, 2010 25% 52% 13%
Quinnipiac June 2–8, 2010 29% 45% 13%
Quinnipiac May 24–25, 2010 23% 49% 11%
Research 2000 May 24–26, 2010 44% 48% ––
Quinnipiac March 9–15, 2010 34% 44% 9%
Quinnipiac January 8–12, 2010 37% 27% 4%
Moore Information December 15–16, 2009 35% 37% 4%
Quinnipiac November 3–8, 2009 28% 17% 5%
Quinnipiac September 10–14, 2009 43% –– 2%
Research 2000 September 8–10, 2009 38% –– 1%


State Republican Convention results (first round)[38]
Party Candidate Votes Percentage
Republican Linda McMahon* 737 51.76%
Republican Rob Simmons* 632 44.62%
Republican Peter Schiff 44 3.11%
Republican Vincent Forras 7 0.49%
Republican Ethan Book 0 0.00%
Totals 1,414 100%

* Denotes candidate met the minimum threshold of 15 percent to appear on the primary ballot

Republican primary results[39]
Party Candidate Votes Percentage
Republican Linda McMahon 60,479 49.44%
Republican Rob Simmons* 34,011 27.80%
Republican Peter Schiff** 27,831 22.75%
Totals 122,321 100%

* Rob Simmons suspended his campaign on May 25, 2010 but left his name on the ballot.[40] On July 29, he re-entered the race.[41]

** Peter Schiff collected 10,000 signatures to be placed on the ballot via petition.[42]

General election



The first debate between Linda McMahon and Richard Blumenthal in the 2010 Senate race occurred on October 4, 2010,[46] 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.[46] Blumenthal as well criticized partisanship, saying that he would have sided with Republicans who voted against the Troubled Assets Relief Program.[46] 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.[46]

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.[47]

A third debate between McMahon and Blumenthal was held on October 12,[48] aired on WTNH sister network MyTV9.


Source Ranking As of
Cook Political Report Lean D[49] November 1, 2010
Rothenberg D favored[50] October 31, 2010
RealClearPolitics Leans D[51] October 31, 2010
Sabato's Crystal Ball Leans D[52] October 28, 2010
CQ Politics Leans D[53] November 1, 2010
Rasmussen Reports Leans D[54] November 1, 2010


Poll source Dates administered Richard Blumenthal (D) Linda McMahon (R)
Rasmussen Reports October 31, 2010 53% 46%
Quinnipiac University October 25–31, 2010 53% 44%
Public Policy Polling October 27–29, 2010 54% 43%
CT Capitol Report/Merriman River Group October 24–26, 2010 51.8% 43.8%
Rasmussen Reports October 24, 2010 56% 43%
Quinnipiac University October 18–24, 2010 54% 42%
Suffolk University October 19–20, 2010 57% 39%
Rasmussen Reports October 14, 2010 51% 46%
Quinnipiac October 7–11, 2010 54% 43%
Fox News/Pulse Opinion Research October 9, 2010 49% 43%
Rasmussen Reports October 5, 2010 54% 43%
CT Capitol Report/Merriman River Group October 3, 2010 52.4% 44.7%
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner October 3–4, 2010 53% 38%
Fox News/Pulse Opinion Research October 2, 2010 52% 42%
CNN/Time/Opinion Research October 1–5, 2010 54% 41%
Public Policy Polling September 30-October 2, 2010 53% 41%
Rasmussen Reports September 26, 2010 50% 45%
Quinnipiac September 21–26, 2010 49% 46%
Quinnipiac September 8–12, 2010 51% 45%
Rasmussen Reports September 9, 2010 53% 44%
Rasmussen Reports August 11, 2010 47% 40%
Quinnipiac July 28-August 2, 2010 50% 40%
Rasmussen Reports July 15, 2010 53% 40%
Quinnipiac July 7–13, 2010 54% 37%
Quinnipiac June 2–8, 2010 55% 35%
Rasmussen Reports June 1, 2010 56% 33%
Daily Kos/Research 2000 May 24–26, 2010 52% 33%
Quinnipiac May 24–25, 2010 56% 31%
Rasmussen Reports May 18, 2010 48% 45%
Rasmussen Reports May 4, 2010 52% 39%
Rasmussen Reports April 7, 2010 55% 35%
Quinnipiac March 9–15, 2010 61% 28%
Rasmussen Reports March 2, 2010 60% 31%
Rasmussen Reports February 1, 2010 56% 36%
Daily Kos/Research 2000 January 11–13, 2010 56% 34%
Quinnipiac January 8–12, 2010 64% 23%
YouGovPolimetrix January 6–11, 2010 47% 35%
Rasmussen Reports January 6, 2010 58% 34%
Public Policy Polling January 4–5, 2010 60% 28%


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


United States Senate election in Connecticut, 2010[55]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Richard Blumenthal 636,040 55.16% -11.20%
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
Majority 137,755 11.95%
Total votes 1,153,115 100%
Democratic hold

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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External links

Official campaign websites

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