Christine Stuart file photo

The latest Quinnipiac University poll is somewhat good news for beleaguered US Sen. Chris Dodd.

Dodd leads his newly announced Democratic challenger Merrick Alpert 44 to 24 percent and is gaining on Republican challenger Rob Simmons.

But if the 2010 contest was held today Simmons would win with 45 percent of the vote, leaving Dodd 39 percent of the vote, according to the results of the latest poll. An April 2 poll had Simmons with 50 percent of the vote compared to Dodd’s 34 percent.

Dodd’s favorability rating is up from 30 percent to 37 percent, but is still in the negative range with more voters having an unfavorable opinion of him. The poll released today found 51 percent of those surveyed have an unfavorable opinion of Dodd, which is less than the 58 percent that felt that way in the April 2 poll. 

“Sen. Christopher Dodd’s numbers are getting better but they are still lousy,” Quinnipiac Poll Director Doug Schwartz. “He still has high negatives: About half of the voters don’t trust Dodd and disapprove of the job he is doing. And he is still behind Simmons in a general election matchup.”

“But Dodd is an exceptionally skilled politician, and he has plenty of time. He is lucky to get this early warning more than a year before the election,” Schwartz said.

“Nobody knows Merrick Alpert, the new challenger to Dodd, and it should be troubling to Dodd that this political nobody is still getting a quarter of the Democratic primary vote,” Schwartz added. However, the poll also found 93 percent don’t know enough about Alpert to have an opinion.

If the Republican primary between Simmons and Republican state Sen. Sam Caligiuri, Simmons would best Caligiuri 48 to 10 percent. The poll also found 87 percent of Connecticut voters don’t know enough to form an opinion about Caligiuri.

As for Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell her approval numbers remained steady going up from 68 percent to 73 percent and US Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s approval ratings have remained steady with 46 percent approving and 44 percent disapproving of the junior senator.

The poll surveyed 1,575 Connecticut voters and was conducted between May 20 and May 25. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.