Christine Stuart file photo

(Updated 12 p.m.) A new poll shows that Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s approval rating has dropped to an all-time low of 59 percent.

However, after a protracted budget battle Rell still fared better than lawmakers who got a 35 percent approval rating from the 921 voters surveyed in the latest Quinnipiac University poll. Still 56 percent of voters believe Rell “copped out” when she let the budget go into effect without her signature.

“By a hefty 22-point margin, voters think that by allowing the budget to become law without her signature or veto, Gov. Jodi Rell copped out,” Poll Director Douglas Schwartz said in a press release.

“Democrats can’t take comfort in these numbers, since their score on the budget is much lower than the Governor’s,” Schwartz said. “But Democrats might hope that the Rell juggernaut finally has hit a pothole, which could set the stage for a competitive race for Governor next year.”

While the 2010 U.S. Senate race is expected to dominate the news cycle, Schwartz opined “if her job approval continues to decline, that could change.” It’s the second poll in which Rell’s job approval ratings have fallen.

But even though her approval rating has dropped, 57 percent of voters polled said they definitely or probably vote for her in the next election. The number is down just 1 percent from July 22 and is up 2 percent from Dec. 17, 2008.

Also Schwartz said at a Capitol press conference Wednesday that Rell’s approval rating remains higher than governor’s in other states like New Jersey and New York. New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine is at 34 percent, New York’s Gov. David Paterson is at 30 percent, and Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell is at 39 percent.

“The poll reflects the fact that we have been dealing with a very difficult budget situation and Governor Rell made some choices she knew would not make everyone happy. That’s leadership,” Rich Harris, Rell’s spokesman said in a written statement. “For the good of our state the budget crisis is now resolved, because Governor Rell put an end to it.”

As for the legislature a 35 approval rating is its worst score since July 2003, which was also the last time the state was struggle with a budget deficit.

Voters disapprove 61 – 28 percent of the way Democrats in the legislature are handling the state budget. When asked if the state budget should have cut more spending or spare vital state services voters were split. About 46 percent of voters said cut more spending, while 44 percent thought any additional spending cuts would jeopardize vital services.

Voters were also split 45 – 44 percent in their approval of the way Rell is handling the job situation and disapprove 49 – 44 percent of the way she is handling taxes.

The poll was taken Sept. 10 to 14 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

There will also be a new poll out tomorrow on the U.S. Senate race, president’s approval numbers, and health care, Schwartz said.

Throughout the day various groups responded to the poll results.

Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, D-Meriden, said, “During especially tough times it is not unusual to see a range of public opinion. I am encouraged, however, by the vast majority of people who agreed with legislative Democrats that the wealthiest in our state need to be part of the budget solution.”

Senate President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said, “It is clear that on so many key issues, people support the Democrats.”

And Nancy DiNardo, chairwoman of the State Democratic Party, said, “This poll confirms what we’ve known for a while now: As the Chief Executive of the State of Connecticut, Governor Jodi Rell has been unable to show the kind of leadership that the people of this state want and deserve.”