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Dorgan to retire; GOP sees opening
AP: Conn. Sen. Dodd to retire
Recruits for 2010 put glee in GOP

In Arkansas, Mrs. Lincoln, a Democrat who found herself smack in the middle of the national debate over health care, is paying a price. She trails four possible Republican challengers in the latest Rasmussen survey, with her support running from 39 percent to 41 percent in head-to-head matchups.

Opposition to the health-care plan runs high in the state — 65 percent — and 83 percent think it is likely to lead to higher taxes on the middle class. Mr. Obama’s job rating in Arkansas is dismal — just 34 percent now approve.

Pennsylvania incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter, who last year switched party affiliation from Republican to Democrat, fares the same. He trails GOP primary challenger Pat Toomey by four points, Rasmussen found.

While Mr. Obama beat Mr. McCain by 11 points in the state, Mr. Specter’s approval rating has fallen to less than 50 percent, and 53 percent of voters oppose his health-care plan.

And New York, one of the most liberal states in the country, where Mr. Obama defeated Mr. McCain in 2008 by a whopping 27 percentage points, now appears to be in play for 2010. The incumbent Senate Democrat, Kirsten Gillibrand, leads a potential challenger, former governor George Pataki, by just 0.2 percent in an average of all polls compiled by

The scene is similar in Ohio, where Mr. Obama beat Mr. McCain 51 percent to 47 percent. Just 44 percent now approve of the president’s performance, according to the latest statewide poll, and only 41 percent approve of his health-care bill.

Rob Portman, a former Ohio congressman and director of the Office of Management and Budget during the administration of President George W. Bush, leads Democratic Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher in potential 2010 U.S. Senate matchup 40 percent to 33 percent, according to a December Rasmussen poll.

The Democrat incumbent trails the GOP challenger in Colorado, where, again, Mr. Obama’s rating has fallen to 50 percent and opposition to his health-care plan has spiked to 55 percent. Former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, a Republican, leads incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet by nearly 10 points, 46 percent to 37 percent.

In Connecticut, Mr. Dodd was trailing all three GOP candidates, attracting just 35 percent to 40 percent of the vote. Even Linda McMahon, the ex-CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, polled six points higher than Mr. Dodd.

A whopping 80 percent of voters in the state say the health-care bill is likely to force an increase in middle-class taxes, according to the most recent poll. And while Mr. Obama remains popular at 57 percent, that’s below the 61 percent he took in 2008, and just 33 percent strongly approve of the president’s performance.

Pollsters see a pattern.

“The health-care debate has energized the Republican base and is helping at the moment with independents — many of whom are conservative-leaning and also frightened about spending trillions of dollars,” said pollster John Zogby.

In North Dakota, Mr. Dorgan was getting pummeled by Republican Gov. John Hoeven, trailing by 19 points, according to the latest Zogby poll.

Just 30 percent favor the proposed health-care-reform plan, and Mr. Obama’s popularity among state voters has fallen to just 41 percent.

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