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August 07, 2006

Election Eve in Connecticut

A round-up on the Lamont-Lieberman race for the Democratic primary for Senate: 

First a new poll by Quinnipiac University released today shows the race tightening.  Likely primary voters back Lamont over Lieberman by 51-45 as compared to an Aug. 3rd r Q-poll which showed it 54-41 for Lamont.  Lieberman's support for the war in Iraq is the main reason for 36 percent of Lamont voters, while 54 percent say it is one of several reasons.

Which brings us to pollster John Zogby's article on the Huffington Post discussing the impact of Lieberman's impending defeat.

Connecticut Democrats will go to the polls on Tuesday and the choice will be a defining moment for both the Democratic Party and the nation. While I will stop short of a precise prediction, let me suggest that polling evidence shows that Senator Joseph Lieberman will lose the Senate primary to businessman Ned Lamont by a substantial margin.  Enough of a margin, in fact, to convince his Senate colleagues and friends that he should forego a promised independent run and bow out gracefully. We already see good friends like New Jersey's Frank Lautenberg suggesting that Lieberman will have to drop out and the pressure will build.

At the same time, we have seen Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton begin the process of pulling away from her aggressive pro-war stance in last week's compelling confrontation with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Referring to the Bush administration's policy in Iraq as a "failure" was a big change for Hillary who has been booed in recent months by fellow Democrats for her support for the President.

Zogby goes on to provide his latest numbers on the war:

Let's just look at the numbers from my most recent national poll (July 21). Overall, only 36% of likely voters told us that they agree that the war in Iraq has been "worth the loss of American lives", while 57% disagree. But the partisan splits are more revealing: only 16% of the Democrats polled said the war has been worth while 82% disagree and only 26% of Independents agree the war has been worth it while 72% disagree. On the Republican side, 64% said the war has been worth it, while 23% disagree. The war has been the principal cause of the nation's polarization in the past three years. The polling evidence shows the degree to which Iraq has become a Republican war. And these latest numbers are also noteworthy in that they show that about one in four Republicans have now pretty much given up on the war.

And more for the future, (assuming Lamont wins):

Meanwhile, look for Ned Lamont, who is running a strong antiwar campaign, to be the new face of the Democrats in 2006 and perhaps beyond. And look for Democratic voters to push harder for even more clarity on where Democrats stand. Lieberman will be gone and Clinton will be distancing herself from her previous stand. But calling an obvious failure a failure will not be enough. The next step in offering voters some clarity on Iraq will be to develop an exit strategy.

That is what leadership is all about and Democrats, fresh from sending the pro-war Lieberman a clear message, will be looking very closely.

And, lastly, directly from Connecticut we have an opinion piece in the Hartford Courant by George Jepsen, former chairman of the state Democratic Party and state Senate majority leader from 1996 to 2002:

I like and respect Joe Lieberman. Opposing him publicly is one of the most difficult choices I have ever made in politics. But these are not ordinary times and there is too much at stake.

On too many issues, Joe has equivocated or stood with President Bush and Republican conservatives in ways I believe are both wrong and out of touch with the vast majority of Connecticut voters, not just Democrats. I do not question Joe's sincerity. Equally sincere, however, are his many critics.

For example, Lieberman sided with religious conservatives in keeping Terri Schiavo alive against her will, and in allowing hospitals to deny morning-after pills to rape victims; he would not filibuster the Alito nomination to the Supreme Court, and he was the only New England senator to vote for the Bush administration's energy bill, which gave it siting authority for a natural gas facility in Long Island Sound (taking it from the states); at a time of spiraling deficits he defends budget earmarks and even voted against an amendment that would have eliminated the notorious "Bridge to Nowhere"; finally, Joe opposes marriage equality for gays and lesbians. The list goes on.

Above all, there is the war in Iraq, a war tragically of choice rather than of necessity. More than a costly, miserably implemented, strategic blunder, the war has squandered America's moral mandate in the wake of 9/11 to unite the world against terrorism. It has empowered Muslim extremists, united our enemies, fostered terrorism and destabilized the Middle East.

There should be more accountability in our political process. Incumbency is not by itself a qualification for re-election. Those who led us into and now champion the war need to answer to the electorate, pure and simple.


Our Connecticut Democratic ticket in November will be stronger with Ned Lamont on it because he will drive Democratic turnout. Thousands of Democrats who would otherwise feel voiceless will go to the polls for Ned, helping in turn every Democrat on the ticket.

Unlike Joe Lieberman, Ned is committed to supporting the winner of the Democratic primary regardless of its outcome. He will not split our party by running as an independent. Even if you plan to vote for Joe Lieberman in the primary, I encourage you to call on Joe to do the right thing by running as a Democrat or not at all.

Together, we can send a message to America in August and in November. The message is that there are issues and values worth fighting for, and that Connecticut Democrats are not afraid to fight. Get to know Ned Lamont as I have. He will be the positive voice for change that we need. You will be proud you helped send him to Washington.

Posted by Lynn Allen on August 7, 2006 at 09:39 AM in Candidate Races | Permalink


The media continues to portray this contest as a one issue referendum on the war. I am not so sure. While the war is certainly the dominant issue, I think this view masks the widespread dissatisfaction with congress, not just the administration, and is reflected in a "zero tolerance" attitude toward incumbents. No matter how "out of touch" Joe is, losing a primary for an incumbent is just something that does not happen. There is something more going on here. People are looking for an excuse to "throw the bums out". Watching the debate, I was struck by several differences between the candidates - most notably on the topic of "earmarks". I went into the debate with an open mind, expecting to retain my mild preference for Lieberman. Lieberman's brazen support for the corrupt earmark process, and craven appeal to Connecticut voters based on his ability to bring home the earmark "pork", completely changed my thinking. Lamont took a principled stand on earmarks, which resonated with me and I suspect resonates with Connecticut voters (which - full disclosure - I am not), even if he is more left of center than I would like. I posted a short video commentary on youtube and a transcript about this telling exchange in my blog post: To earmark or not to earmark, that is the question"

Posted by: mw | Aug 7, 2006 10:35:26 AM


I agree. I think it is bigger than the war. I think the populace knows we need what I am now calling "transformtional" candidates - people who are not beholden to the big donors and can therefore move faster and stay in better contact with the voters. I think we know that big moves are afoot. There is a lot that will need to be done to clean this mess up and we are not going to be able to do it with the status quo politicians.

Posted by: Lynn | Aug 7, 2006 10:41:59 AM

Wow .... WOW ... what George Jepsen wrote was awesome awesome awesome. God bless you sir.

Posted by: Justin | Aug 7, 2006 3:54:49 PM

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