Chris Dodd’s exit from the race for US Senate has led to major shift in voters’ opinions according to two new polls including one that was taken Wednesday night after Dodd officially got out of the race and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal officially got in.

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey, taken Wednesday night, finds Blumenthal leading former Congressman Rob Simmons 56% to 33%. Linda McMahon, the ex-wrestling CEO, trails Blumenthal by a 58% to 34% margin. Long-shot candidate Peter Schiff, trails Blumenthal by more than two-to-one—60% to 24%..

“With a single announcement, Chris Dodd transformed the Senate race in Connecticut from one that leaned in the GOP direction to a fairly safe bet for the Democratic Party,” said Scott Rasmussen, president and founder of Rasmussen Reports.

The second poll is a Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey conducted Monday
and Tuesday, before Dodd made his announcement. The poll has Blumenthal with leads of 30 points or greater against all three Republican candidates.

Blumenthal leads Simmons 59-28, McMahon 60-28, and Peter Schiff 63-23.

59% of voters in the state have a favorable opinion of Blumenthal to just 19% who view
him unfavorably. He’s liked by 71% of Democrats and 60% of independents, and even a
slight plurality of Republicans by a 37/35 margin in the PPP.

Both Simmons and McMahon were ready with responses. McMahon appeared on NBC’s “Today” show and stressed that Dodd’s announcement was not a surprise to her or her campaign staff. She also said Blumenthal’s record will be scrutinized.

Rob Simmons released a video clip from FOX News Channel’s “Your World with Neil Cavuto” in which Blumenthal seemed to be reluctant to detail his positions on key issues. “When you run for a major public office like U.S. Senator, you usually outline your vision and positions on the issues on your very first day as a candidate,” a Simmons spokesman said in a news release. “There’s a common theme here. On whether he supported the $700 billion bank bailout, Blumenthal had no answer. On health care, Blumenthal had no answer. On cutting taxes to stimulate the economy, Blumenthal had no answer,” the statement said.
And then there were eight…and Eight is Enough. Former state Rep. Juan Figueroa entered the race for governor yesterday saying he will build a grassroots campaign as he has done in other efforts involving state government. According to Paul Bass of the New Haven Independent, as head of the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut (UHCF), he oversaw the effort to pressure the legislature to pass the “SustiNet” bill. Governor Rell vetoed the bill; Figueroa’s group organized the coalition that successfully lobbied the legislature to override the veto. The coalition included groups that don’t always work together in politics: small business people, clergy, doctors, reform activists. Figueroa is not particularly well known statewide outside of those involved in the issues he’s worked on.
Democratic Congressman Jim Himes is finding out first-hand how involved the public wants to be in this election year. The Himes campaign says the Ridgefield meeting was moved due to a “greater-than-expected turn-out at earlier meetings.” Himes is holding town hall meetings on America’s policy on Afghanistan with constituents throughout the district this week.

Greater-than-expected turnout at the events in Stamford and Southport has prompted the Congressman to move the Ridgefield meeting from a 70-seat venue to a facility that will accommodate 500 participants. The meeting will now be held at the Ridgefield Play House, 80 East Ridge Street, Ridgefield on Saturday, Jan. 9 at 11:30 a.m.