New Poll Gives Lieberman 12-Point Edge
Today’s Quinnipiac University poll, which shows incumbent Senator Joe Lieberman leading challenger Ned Lamont in the November election, is hardly unexpected. What is surprising is the extent and depth of Lieberman's popularity. In a 3-way race running as an independent, Lieberman pulls 53% of likely voters, compared to 41% for Ned Lamont and 4% for Republican Alan Schlesinger. His poll numbers appear to have improved, perhaps dramatically, since the primary. An August 12 poll, by Rasmussen, had given Lieberman only a 5% edge.
Even worse news for Lamont: The Quinnipiac poll shows that 55% of Connecticut voters approve of the job Lieberman is doing, while Lamont has a negative 25-30% favorability rating.
The success of blogs in mounting a Democratic primary challenge to Lieberman was impressive. Against all odds, they carried a somewhat wooden, utterly inexperienced candidate to victory over a popular incumbent senator. But it is now time to face a political reality in which Lieberman, not Lamont, will win the November election with support from both Republicans and Democrats. The blogs may have set up a nightmare scenario for the Senate, with an independent Lieberman as power broker and kingmaker, willing and able to shift his alliance between Republicans and Democrats. Worse, he will have a voter mandate from his state to do so.
Having demonstrated some political acumen during the primary, the blogs astounded many observers by their obsessive coverage of Lieberman in the days following the election. His every utterance was discussed and dissected, to the extent that 80% of the posts on major liberal blogs were about Lieberman. The correct and natural move at this point would have been to exploit his image as loser, marginalizing his comments and devoting attention to Lamont. In short, the blogs behaved like political naifs, rowing upstream against a political process that naturally marginalizes losers.
Make no mistake: To an extent blogs have perhaps not yet grasped, they have put themselves on the line in Connecticut. If Lamont loses, and it appears he will lose, the blogs will also lose. They will be ignored by party officials. They will be deemed politically incompetent and ultimately irrelevant to the political process, capable of muddying the waters, but not much more.
Reader unrest is also bubbling below the surface. Having thrown their hats into the Connecticut political ring, the blogs could not tackle, for example, the delicate (for American voters) issue of Israel’s wanton decimation of Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure without putting their Connecticut candidate at risk. AmericaBlog philosophized in favor of a doctrine of collective punishment while Daily Kos washed its hands of the mess, declaring that the issues were too complex for discussion. Even Seymour Hersh's sensational article in the "New Yorker" about Washington's coordination with Israel in the Lebanese action was utterly ignored by major blogs. They were prevented, in other words, from doing what they do best, which is to challenge administration policy.
Major liberal blogs have crawled down a slippery slope in Connecticut and may not be able to redeem themselves. The November election may signal the end of the blog phenomenon as well as Lamont's political career.