Christine Stuart file photo

(Updated 11:30 a.m.) A new poll shows that 49 percent of voters still disapprove of the job U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd is doing, but that’s three points better than he fared in the July poll.

And where former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons was beating Dodd 48 to 39 percent in July, the margin of victory was much slimmer in Thursday’s poll which showed Simmons beating Dodd 44 to 39 percent.

In a Republican primary, Simmons gets 43 percent, while no other challenger tops 5 percent and Dodd leads businessman Merrick Alpert 56 to 13 percent in a Democratic primary, the poll found.

In a match up between Dodd and Peter Schiff, who announced his candidacy Thursday morning, Dodd beats Schiff 42 to 36 percent. When Republicans voters were asked which Republican candidate they would vote for in the primary only 2 percent chose Schiff, while 43 percent chose Simmons.

Republican candidate and World Wresting Entertainment Chief Executive Linda McMahon, who announced her candidacy this week, was not included in the poll.

“The Republican show in Connecticut could give the Ringling Brothers a run for their money. Between a defeated three-term Congressman, a Ron Paul acolyte, a George Bush foot soldier, and a wrestling personality, this cast of characters will be endlessly entertaining to watch,” Eric Schultz, communications director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a written statement.“Meanwhile the people of Connecticut will be watching Chris Dodd build on his record of delivering everyday for his state.”

While Dodd’s approval numbers still aren’t over 50 percent, Poll Director Doug Schwartz said they are improving.

“Sen. Christopher Dodd’s approval keeps edging up, and he is bringing down his high negatives,” Schwartz said in a press release. “For the first time in six months, his disapproval is under 50 percent, just barely.”

“But the incumbent has made only slight progress against Republican front-runner Rob Simmons,” Schwartz said. “About 40 percent of voters will vote for anybody but Dodd, as evidenced by their willingness to vote for Republican candidates they haven’t heard of.”

When asked if the VIP mortgage deal Dodd received from Countrywide made a difference in their opinion of Dodd about 59 percent voters said it didn’t make a difference, 26 percent said it made them think of him less favorably, while 14 percent said it made them think of him more favorably.

But 51 percent of voters don’t believe Dodd is trustworthy, while 40 percent of voters believe he is trustworthy, which is about 5 percent more than in the last two polls.

Health Care

Connecticut voters support 64 to 30 percent giving people the option to buy health insurance from a government plan. But by a 68 to 26 percent margin they don’t believe President Barack Obama’s promise that the health care plan will not add to the deficit.

But 54 to 30 percent trust Obama to do a better job handling health care than Republicans in Congress. And 57 percent of voters believe Republicans in Congress want Obama to fail, while 33 percent of voters feel they are playing a constructive role.

Forty-seven percent approve and 45 percent of voters disapprove of the way the president is handling health care.

The president received an overall 57 to 36 percent approval rating, down from 63 to 32 percent July 23 and his lowest approval in the state since his inauguration.