Chris Dodd's retirement today was probably the only logical move a partisan Democrat could make after looking at the fate of New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine. It was clear for over a year before the 2009 gubernatorial election that the numbers had hardened and Corzine was unpopular with his state's voters -- a majority of them were ready to make a break with him. Corzine fought on, hoping that by spending a boatload of money, relying on his state's Democratic tilt, and benefiting from a Republican-turned-independent candidate to siphon off some votes he could beat the odds. The polls did tighten before the election, but in the end it wasn't enough to overcome the electorate's ingrained feeling that it was time for the incumbent to go.
Dodd faced a similar problem, without some of Corzine's benefits. Dodd would have had the money to run a competitive race and Connecticut more than leans Democratic. But there wouldn't have been any Chris Dagget to pull votes away from the eventual Republican nominee, and the fact is that Rob Simmons and especially Linda McMahon should have plenty of money to get their own message out. And Dodd's polling was in some respects even more atrocious: he was at risk of losing to relatively minor candidates for the GOP nomination, not just the frontrunners. It would be like if Bill Clinton was preparing to run for reelection in 1996 while losing head-to-head match-ups against Alan Keyes and Morry Taylor.
The question is whether Harry Reid will be the next Democrat taken out by the Corzine effect. His numbers are looking equally consistent and increasingly bad. But Nevada Democrats have more incentives to keep the Senate majority leader as their nominee in 2010, even if he is currently polling poorly.
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