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August 09, 2006

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See also Salon, Sid Blumenthal.

Joe Lieberman's fall from grace appears straightforward. In Connecticut, where George W. Bush and his war are intensely disliked, Lieberman stationed himself as the president's defender. But Lieberman's precipitous descent from nomination as vice president to rejection by his home state partisans is also something of a mystery.

Lieberman was once the most attractive and promising Democrat in his state, his grasp of political realities subtle and sinuous. But he became scornful of disagreement, parading himself as a moral paragon to whom voters should be privileged to pay deference. The elevation of his sanctimony was accompanied by the loss of his political sense.

I suspect the exit poll overstates how many of Joe's primary supporters will stick with him. It is one thing to say so immediately after voting in a hotly contested primary - another thing after he's lost, and he bolts the party.

Not to mention all the dynamics that will push Lieberman rightward, and specifically Bush-ward, between now and November. He will have to express positions, and will be surrounded by "friends," that won't sit well even with fairly conservative Dems, or for that matter many swing voters.

I suspect the exit poll overstates how many of Joe's primary supporters will stick with him. It is one thing to say so immediately after voting in a hotly contested primary - another thing after he's lost, and he bolts the party.

Not to mention all the dynamics that will push Lieberman rightward, and specifically Bush-ward, between now and November. He will have to express positions, and will be surrounded by "friends," that won't sit well even with fairly conservative Dems, or for that matter many swing voters.

Oops - double post.

Dang, I need to unplug. I saw the headline on the RSS and thought I was reading Crooked Timber.

Sorry, but Lamont would have voted to give Bush war powers to invade Iraq in 2001 to save his political skin, just like Kerry, Hillary, etc. These cloth coated Republicans are not liberals and will not go against the corporate authority now ruling the commonwealth.

Powerpuff, where do you live and what are your voting choices?

Interesting correlation is that Joe started talking, in the last few days of the primary, about how much he " always opposed the administration's handling of the war"

I wonder if that got his numbers up. According to the CBS poll, the majority of those that made up their mind in the last three days voted for Lieberman (54% Lieberman, 44% Lamont).

What a weird fucking race.

A week ago, the Lieberman team panics at how far back they are in the polls and slashes GOTV to save money for the general election. Of course, then the Democratic regulars filter back to Joe, and on election day he can't turn out his best areas to take a winnable race.

You couldn't make this stuff up.

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Going forward, this is all about Joe's fundraising over the next 3 - 6 weeks. If Lieberman can raise money, he'll stick around in the race. If not, he'll drop.

If it ends up that he can raise money, he ain't dead yet.

Petey, I enjoyed your comments elsewhere about lunchpail vs social democrats. Still feel the same after New Haven and Hartford went lamont?

He's proving himself to be a decent politician, more than a cardboard cutout. He also seems to learn fast.

Going forward, this is all about Joe's fundraising over the next 3 - 6 weeks. If Lieberman can raise money, he'll stick around in the race. If not, he'll drop.

If it ends up that he can raise money, he ain't dead yet.

What if it's all R money?

I don't think there's that much R money to be thrown around. The R's might spend a ton on Joementum if they weren't desparately trying to save their majorities (and it may be a lost cause in the House), but this year they have actual Republicans to protect who would be with them on a whole slew of other issues where Joe wouldn't. Just look at the Senate, where they've got a bunch of incumbents in trouble, and there's no question they'd vote for a Repub leader. What about Lieberman? I still think he'd probably vote for a Dem leader (although he'd be even more insufferable as an I than he's been as a D).

I think Petey's probably right about money determining his ability to stay in the race. As I've said elsewhere, I think he'll get a good amount of AIPAC money, because those donors tend to be more conservative, like that he's a fellow Jew, and know he'll back an aggressive stance in favor of whatever the Israeli right supports. But they aren't enough, and most of that money has probably already come in. NYC is outrageously expensive, and he'll have no ground game that he can't buy, and even then he won't be able to buy the loyalty of enough Dems to implement it. He'll have all three House candidates pleading with him to get out of the race. Dodd and DeLauro and Clinton and just about everyone with his ear who's not Peretz or From will be telling him to drop out. Bayh abandoning him is probably significant. And there won't be much institutional money coming his way.

I agree with Petey on the money, and will go further and say it won't be enough for him to wage a winning campaign. And there aren't enough passionate Lieberman partisans in CT for him to run a low-cost insurgency-type campaign. And there's still probably at least 20% of the electorate who will vote for a Repub over him.

I think he's done. I just hope he doesn't do a kamikaze run and take the three House challengers out with him.

They are going to be pretty well funded, and I don't see how this threatens them. Turnout helps them, and the new cvoters in the historic Dem primary voted Lamont. They, if they stay in the party or not, will look long at the 3 dems.

I agree with Petey as well, as I often (but not always) do.

from the Stamford Advocate, a very CW view, not altered by the new dynamics:

"He is going to have to work hard to raise enough money to get through this," said Scott McLean, chairman of the political science department at Quinnipiac University. "The Democratic establishment is not going to be there in the same way it's always been there for him."

One strategist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Lieberman had about $2 million remaining after the primary race against Lamont.

A Quinnipiac University poll released in July showed that 51 percent of likely voters would support Lieberman in a three-way race. That's compared with 27 percent for Lamont and 9 percent for Schlesinger, an attorney who was formerly a lawmaker and mayor.

However, a CBS News/New York Times exit poll of nearly 2,700 voters on Tuesday found that 61 percent said Lieberman should not run as an independent.

The academics figure nothing has changed (same view as pre-primary). I don't know that it's true.

Good call, DHinMI. My first reaction about money was that Joe could draw on a bottomless GOP piggy bank, but you're right - that money will be going to vulnerable Republicans, of whom there are suddenly a lot.

Joe has been a pure establishment guy, and without the establishment behind him he'll have to scramble for money and everything else.

"Those new Democratic primary voters strongly supported Lamont, who received 62% of their vote." Wow. Those 29,000 new registrants were key

Am I doing the math right: 29,000 new registrants split about 18k to 11k for Lamont? That means that of his roughly 10,000-vote victory margin, 7,000 votes came from new registrants? It's not quite accurate to say that the usual Dems split evenly Lieberman-Lamont and that this election was entirely decided by new primary voters -- but it's pretty close to that, isn't it?

On another note: Not sure I understand why the conventional wisdom was that big cities, which I always think of as liberal strongholds, were supposed to favor Lieberman.

Machine politics and traditional voting habits, plus lower income lunchpail liberals going to Joe on cultural issues.

I'm not so sure Liberman's loss is all about the war, I think all of the voters Reps and Dems are sick and tired of all the crap they have to contend with because of the incompatence of both parties and the unmitagated gall of the current Adm. To squander our resources both human and monetary, and thier constant pandering to lobbiest and total lack of impathy for " them that brung ya" ( thank you Molly). I would not give a plug nickle or air in a jug to most of our congressmen. I keep hearing the network newscasters saying its the war, just keep believing that till Nov. rolls around. Then maybe we can send that clodhopper W back to his alchol and drugs so he can finish frying what little brains he has left, along with those sycophants he coseys up to.They are all "crooked as a dogs hind leg".
Sorry for the rant and spelling errors!

it isn't all about the war. it is about being more partisan, and the war's a part of that.

The war also symbolizes everything else, and in a singularly pointed way. Besides its own significance it is the perfect metaphor for nearly all Bush policies.

DemFromCT

Great coverage and analysis, thanks

Dem: agree that the three Dem challengers will be well-funded. iirc, Farrell had almost closed the CoH gap, and Courtney and Murphy were doing OK. I'm more concerned about something crazy creating distractions and disarray on the Dem side, although I am heartened by the force and speed with which Dems seem to be coalescing around Lamont. But I am worried a tiny bit about the coordinated campaign, and whether this could keep some institutional money from going in to a coordinated field effort on behalf of Lamont and the three Congressionals.

Well, on the war as well as everything else -- taxes, health care and Medicare Drugs, Welfare, Civil Liberties matters such as NSA and the Patriot Act and all, stem cell research, Education Policy -- you name it, Bush has been "My Way or the Highway" for the last 6 years. Lieberman may have voted 90% with the Democrats -- but that 10% where he voted the Bush agenda is precisely what Lamont has to take a can opener to, and open up for everyone to see. Percentage of pro dem votes includes the resolutions offered by a democrat for National Fried Banana Week you know -- it is that 10% where the meat is located.

Lieberman will have lots of money I think -- one needs to open up the files of "Open Secret" and follow the links to the PAC's that have supported him -- and beyond that, find out who else enjoys their support. Question to ask -- What are they exactly buying? Bloggers should make it rather uncomfortable for certain funding sources and target candidates to be linked up.

Earlier I read through the Kos Comments on Wes Clark's statement today which put in the dig for when, in the Iowa Debates in 2003-04 Lieberman questioned the Democratic Credentials of Wes Clark, and spent much of his debate time on that issue. He apparently was moved by Joe talking about an anti-security wing of the Democratic Party. Clark is ready to march what's left of the US Army into CT in support of Ned Lamont. Amazing how old political ploys come back to haunt.

I should probably make the point that my dream ticket in 2008 is Gore/Clark. In fact, I think they ought to link up as a team before the Iowa Caucus, and use the power of two in the Caucus-Primary season. As far as I can see they agree on most issues, and neither was in the house or senate to vote on the War Resolutions or the subsequent funding ones -- meaning they cannot be taged with the present disasters. That, along with Al Franken for the US Senate from Minnesota is my agenda. So if Clark goes to CT, and campaigns for Lamont, he may also collect a few potential delegates. Fine -- that is how it is done.

would also bring some much needed nat security chops to lamont's area.

not so mysterious

"Lieberman's precipitous descent from nomination as vice president to rejection by his home state partisans is also something of a mystery."

power corrupts

what's so mysterious about that ???

I'm sorry if I've overlooked the explaination of this, but DemfromCT - Not long ago you commented that CT will not go Repub in November. How does it break out that this is certain with Joe 'Leavemin' running independent? Wouldn't he split the Dem vote and tilt the race toward the Repub candidate? Thanks

"Petey, I enjoyed your comments elsewhere about lunchpail vs social democrats. Still feel the same after New Haven and Hartford went lamont?"

While I don't know the details of Connecticut municipal boundaries, yeah, I mainly feel the same.

Lieberman skewed mildly downscale, while Lamont skewed mildly upscale. And this despite Lamont comfortably winning African-Americans, (a real key to his win, btw). If you just look at the white vote, the income skew would have been even more dramatic.

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I don't think I was wrong about the cultural liberal / lunchbox liberal aspects of the primary, but I will note that I was dead wrong in these pages a few months back when I opined that Lieberman would have no problem in a 3 way race. I missed some dynamics that, in retrospect, seem rather obvious.

"What if it's all R money?"

Perhaps DHinMI is right that isn't really an issue, but if it is, 'red' money is as green as 'blue' money. It'll still buy TV spots. Democrats who value partisanship are lost to Lieberman anyway, so he doesn't lose anything by taking contributions from satan.

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"I ... will go further and say it won't be enough for him to wage a winning campaign."

At even money odds, I'd definitely bet on Lamont. But I can also see ways Lieberman could pull off a victory.

Lamont could get 35% of the vote if he hibernated between now and election day. But if the (R) candidate is regarded as a joke and held to an abnormally low percentage, a Lieberman win is possible.

But Lieberman has to raise some serious coin, have the fire in the belly for a pretty unpleasant campaign, and make some smart strategic choices. There are a lot of different places where the whole enterprise could dramatically fall apart.

Loserman is a sore loser and is no Democrat. This was a close primary but if he runs as an independent Loserman will be humiliated in the general election.

The CT Dem machine and all the typical Dem party supporters - unions, etc will be working for Ned. All the DC Dem heavyweights will be supporting Ned. The majority of the Dems that voted for Loserman know he is a sore loser and will think twice. Ned ran a good campaign with a good field operation and bang on the money messaging. He has improved substantially as a candidate. Look at his improvement from the debate to all the TV shows today. Ned's message is where the majority of Americans are and he is framing it right. He'll now get institutional money for his campaign and he can always supplement it on his own. His campaign worked. They will make it better as they are on a roll.The voters in CT can see through the sore loser. They'll support the winner in Nov. They'll support the fresh candidate for change.

What Ned's win will do will be to unite the Dem party and provide them a winning frame for Nov. A referendum on Bush and his decisions. The choice is stark - support "stay the course" into more disaster or "change the course" to at least hope. And yes Iraq and national security will be front and center. As long as the Dems run like Ned did with a clear message that Bush's Iraq adventure is a failure and has made us less safe, Rove and Loserman can run all they want on "anti-security" a lot of the American people are on to them. And that includes the majority of Dems and many Indys. The Dems need to run a straight up, unapologetic campaign and they'll get a landslide. Now is not the time to whimper!

Washington Post editors seem to be stuck in the past and stuck in Repub talking points. They write that Lieberman should run as an independent because he would be a better senator. And he would have won if his positions had been better explained; just like Joe says we wouldn't have all these problems in Iraq if the war had been better conducted. And Joe is a good bi-partisan senator, misunderstood because the parties have become so polarized.
I didn't know these guys were this far gone, this delusional, this taken with Bushie fantasy.

partisan polarizer!
partisan polarizer!
partisan polarizer!
partisan polarizer!
partisan polarizer!
partisan polarizer!
partisan polarizer!
partisan polarizer!
partisan polarizer!
partisan polarizer!
partisan polarizer!
partisan polarizer!
partisan polarizer!
partisan polarizer!

Joe - "I don't know. It's a real tongue twister. You got anything else?"

Karl - "Trust me. Americans are suckers for alliteration."

Anger over Iraq war sets tone in US elections

The stunning defeat of a prominent Democratic senator by a political newcomer with a strong antiwar message is an early sign that voter anger about Iraq will have a big impact on elections in November, experts said.

Democratic senator Joe Lieberman on Tuesday was denied renomination for a fourth term representing the liberal northeastern state of Connecticut, largely because of his support for the war and his perceived coziness with the administration of President George W. Bush which prosecuted it.

"The way voters responded in Connecticut is a real bellwether for the fall elections," said Tom Matzzie, Washington director for the liberal group Moveon.org Political Action, which worked to defeat Lieberman in the race.

White House spokesman Tony Snow said at a press briefing Wednesday that the balloting showed that the war in Iraq "clearly going to be one of the central issues as we get ready for the election campaign this year."

Lieberman lost to neophyte politician Ned Lamont, a millionaire businessman whose message was as decidedly against the Iraq war as Lieberman's was supportive of it.

The primary showed what pundits have been saying for weeks -- that the Iraq war will be a major force in shaping midterm elections, and even the 2008 presidential race.

The election also points to what will be a difficult balancing act for many incumbents, including those from Bush's ruling Republican party and Democrats who supported the invasion.

Democrats are counting on a war-weary US public returning to them majority control of the Republican-dominated US Congress in November's balloting.

However, they will have to balance strong public sentiment for a withdrawal of US troops against military realities on the ground in Iraq, which have forced the administration to increase rather than decrease US troop levels.

A poll in the Washington Post Tuesday showed just how fed up voters are with the three-year long US military commitment in Iraq.

Eighty-one percent of Democrats in a Washington Post-ABC News poll said the war was not worth fighting, 70 percent of whom said they felt that way "strongly."

A majority of Democrats, 54 percent, say that any candidate endorsing Bush's Iraq policy would be less likely to get their vote, while two Democrats in three said it is time to begin decreasing troop levels in Iraq.

Opinion polls also suggest that the election results may also reflect a "throw the bums out" anti-incumbent mood among voters fed up with the entire Washington political establishment.

The same Washington Post-ABC poll found that the percentage of Americans who say they are satisfied with their representative or senator in Congress has also fallen sharply, down to 55 percent from 62 percent just a few months ago.

Fellow Democrats meanwhile slammed Lieberman's independent bid.

"The message sent by Connecticut voters was loud and clear. They want change, and they want Ned Lamont to represent them in the US Senate," former US General Wesley Clark said in a statement.


Dem from CT -- reading General Clark's stuff today suggests that he is in his Hummer and ready to roll -- but just where should he go?

In fact, the Lamont Campaign has to do quick turn around and morph into a General as opposed to Primary campaign, focused on what he has to pick up between now and November, and "What remains" which is a significant destruction of Lieberman's candidacy as an Indie, without turning them off voting for Lamont in November. Tactically it is an interesting matter. On one of the official Lamont Blogs I saw the message -- "do it with Honey." Probably smart. But how much time is allowed for the "Honey" operation?

Conventional Wisdom says one hibernates this campaign till Labor Day -- but I think not. It needs a more deliberate pace, but it needs to keep going. At least one major event each week -- near the weekend, and small events two or three times per week. Lamont cannot afford to let go of at least part of the dynamic environment.

Dem from CT -- reading General Clark's stuff today suggests that he is in his Hummer and ready to roll -- but just where should he go?

In fact, the Lamont Campaign has to do quick turn around and morph into a General as opposed to Primary campaign, focused on what he has to pick up between now and November, and "What remains" which is a significant destruction of Lieberman's candidacy as an Indie, without turning them off voting for Lamont in November. Tactically it is an interesting matter. On one of the official Lamont Blogs I saw the message -- "do it with Honey." Probably smart. But how much time is allowed for the "Honey" operation?

Conventional Wisdom says one hibernates this campaign till Labor Day -- but I think not. It needs a more deliberate pace, but it needs to keep going. At least one major event each week -- near the weekend, and small events two or three times per week. Lamont cannot afford to let go of at least part of the dynamic environment.

IMO, I think Lieberman’s numbers were still too high. Is it possible for registered ‎Republicans in CT to vote in the Democratic primary (or vice versa)? If so, maybe the ‎‎20% who said "they had voted before, but not in a Democratic primary" were really ‎republicans and lied about voting for Lamont... ‎

Sorry, I guess I'm just a conspiracy theorist at heart. --- Still ... I can't help but think that ‎the latest poll showing Lieberman suddenly gaining ground was awfully convenient for ‎the pusillanimous pro-war non-warriors, afraid of risking THEIR lives in Iraq and ‎actually REFUSE to enlist. As a patriotic American, it is my duty to demand all U.S. ‎citizens supporting the war, 42 years and younger to join the military immediately! When ‎one believes in something passionately that causes the death of others then one should be ‎willing to die for those beliefs. ‎

Republicans would have had to register by (iirc) may 8) when it wasn't clear it was important to do so. And I'm not sure Rs wouldn't have really wanted to run against Lamont, given the fall theme. Only non-affiliated could switch to D for the primary, and the new ones voted Lamont.

petey maks na excellent poit, folks, don't lose it in the rhetoric about how Lamont should win. Joe could win, or he could flame out. Lamont was a huge underdog bu ran the campaign he needed to. But just as "it's an auto-joe win" got thrown out the window, it's not an auto-Ned win by any means.

One again DO NOT FORGET this is not a national race. Ned has to win Hartford again, not Peoria or Sacramento, and he has good local people plus the party apparatus. Some of the union leadership will stay Joe (firefighters), most will not.

There's been a lot of discussion about Democratic senators who have come out in support of Lamont (in today's NYTimes, for instance.) What is (or will) Lamont do to consolidate and increase his support in CT? Ryan Lizza argues that Lamont isn't doing enough to cut off Joe's independent bid for the Senate seat.

http://www.tnr.com/user/nregi.mhtml?i=w060807&s=lizza080906

And DemfromCT is saying that Joe could still win...so how is Lamont positioning himself and how's it playing in the CT media so far?

TNR is not a font of electoral wisdom. I really don't care what TNR thinks of this race as far as what Ned or Joe should do.

The instinct to look at negative polling on the Iraq war and conclude that it portends a favorable Democratic outcome in November is understandable but it requires further review. Read an analysis of the Lamont win that discusses how the Democrats position on Iraq and the war on terror will be critical elements in determining which Party will prevail in November…here:

www.thoughttheater.com

A couple of points that, IMHO, need reiteration:

1. The real news here in my view are the thousands of NEW voters.

2. Thanks for the link to the NYT OpEd, especially: "...Democrats were reacting to the way those concepts have been perverted by the Bush White House. This frankness and clarity put the entire Bu$hCo worldview at risk. When did the NYT get guts?

3. I have yet to see a good analysis of the fact that (a) Ned Lamont's messages steered clear of gutter politics, AND ALSO (b) brought out new voters. I believe there is a causal relationship. I don't think one can claim to be 'about change' and parrot the Rovian Shitfest tactics that have worked on tv and talk radio. Ned's message about 'change' was believeable, in large part, because it was delivered in a fashion that stayed out of the gutter, and he insisted that his supporters do the same.

4. The Lamont campaign's clever use of snark led to some interesting 'piggybacking' in other media -- Stephen Colbert bringing out the Empty Chair eloquently piggy-backed on Lamont's basic message. Lamont's message and campaign gave Colbert's humor a great opportunity. None of this is possible with gutter politics.

5. I expect AIPAC and Bu$hCo to find plenty of $$ to fund Lieberman's campaign. They need him more now than they did before Tuesday. It wouldn't surprise me one bit to learn that Rove has already been lining up PACs and donors for Lieberman. He's invaluable to them.

Folks

If Ned can avoid re-triggering the millionaire rule, then I'm not sure Joe can raise enough money to pull this off. He doubled LaMont's spending. And since he'll lose some of his GOTV resources (the unions and machine), he'll need even more money in November. If Ned can avoid letting Joe raise BIG money from the same donors, Joe will have a real challenge in November.

What Lamont can do is raise a bunch of money now, go through that for as long as possible, and then break the millionaire rule late enough in the campaign that Joementum doesn't have time to capitalize on it. He can budget his campaign, spend down to zero, and wait until late September or so to kick in more of his own money.

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