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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Why Lieberman is beatable

DavidNYC from the Swing State Project nails it in his analysis of Lieberman's vulreability and why the possiblity of the senator losing to Ned Lamont in a primary is realistic.

From Swing State Project
Let me start by saying I am not trying to debate the issue of whether Joe Lieberman should be challenged by a Dem or an independent. Rather, I'd like to discuss the mechanics of such a challenge - what it would look like, and whether it might succeed.

To that end, I don't think former Gov. Lowell Weicker can beat Lieberman as an independent. Quinnipiac recently released a poll showing Lieberman beating Weicker in a direct head-to-head (with no Republican) by 65-21. I doubt that Weicker could overcome such a huge gap, especially since his favorability rating is negative - he garners only 19% positive and 32% negative. Pretty harsh.

However, I think a primary challenge could succeed. Lieberman gets pretty good job approval from Dems (55-29), while Republican approval of him is a good bit higher (68-20). And his favorability rating among Dems is good as well (50-15). But those numbers only tell part of the story.

By a 52-39 margin, Dems say Lieberman should once again be the senatorial nominee. That's not exactly terrific. But it gets even more interesting. Self-identified liberals - who strike me as being more representative of primary voters than just self-identified Dems - are tied on the question. Forty-seven percent say Lieberman should be re-nominated; forty-seven percent say "someone else."

This is the pivot-point for Ned Lamont. He would only need to move that 47% number just a wee bit in order to dethrone Lieberman. For Lieberman to avoid that fate, he'd either have to tone down his attacks on fellow Democrats or try to put daylight between himself and Bush on the Iraq war issue. It's not clear to me that he could do that successfully, given how stubbornly he's refused to change his ways over the past five years. In other words, I think Lamont would have a chance.


Now you can understand why Lieberman is not only nervous, but also freaking out over the possibility of Lamont challenging him in a primary. Lieberman knows that he's pissed off a good portion of liberals in the state with his close relationship with President Bush and his recent criticism towards the anti-war movement. He has to know that Lamont is going to get a tremendous amount of support from not only liberal groups within the state, but liberals groups and blogs on the national level such as MoveOn.org and DailyKos (both groups would love nothing better than removing Lieberman from office).

Add the national exposure Lamont will receive in the MSM and the blogs (he's already receiving a great amount of exposure on the web) and one can see a senario where Lamont could get those extra 4 percent needed to bounce Lieberman out in a primary.

Basically, if one wants Lieberman out of office, you better go after him in the primary because conservatives in the state will make sure that their favorite Democrat gets reelected in the general election.