Thursday, July 20, 2006

Much of the left blogosphere is enjoying an article in today's New York Times entitled "Lieberman Finds Favor Among Donors That Usually Support G.O.P." It certainly reinforces the case for Ned Lamont -- but let me (as usual) be the skunk at the garden party and point out that it means Lieberman won't lack for friends and financiers in a general election campaign, whether or not he wins the Democratic primary.

And right now, of course, it looks as if he might not win that primary -- he's trailing Lamont 51%-47% in the latest Quinnipiac poll, as you probably know. But Joe's still well ahead in a three-way race, 51% (Joe)-27% (Ned)-9% (Republican Alan Schlesinger).

The full results of the Quinnipiac poll are here; results of the previous Quinnipiac poll, released June 8, are here. In June, Lieberman led a three-way race 56%-18%-8%, so he's down 5% and Lamont's up 9% in six weeks.

Does that mean Lamont has the momentum to win the general? I don't know; I have my doubts. I'll note that Lieberman's support among Republicans in a three-way race is unchanged from June to July, and very strong (58%). Independents also still favor Lieberman overwhelmingly, though admittedly by less than in June (54%-22%-7% as opposed to 59%-15%-6%).

What I keep trying to figure out is what the GOP is thinking about this race. Atrios keeps insisting that the Republicans are going to fight to win it, but what's really going on? Last week we were hearing that Connecticut Republicans wanted to pressure Schlesinger to drop out, because of a reporting gambling problem -- but instead of a heavy hitter, they're reported want to replace him on the ticket with a nonentity, John C. Orchulli, who was the party's sacrificial lamb in the 2004 Senate race, which Democratic incumbent Christopher Dodd won easily. (Forget about those rumors that Lieberman himself might take the GOP line -- he says he won't.)

My worry is that Rove is husbanding his resources -- concluding, presumably, that the party doesn't have a potential winner for this race, he may think a Lieberman independent campaign is of more use to him nationwide than a full-fledged GOP battle for the seat would be.

How? By giving him (and the GOP's media surrogates) the opportunity to point to Connecticut and say GOP-friendly things like this (from John Hawkins at Right Wing News):

So, if Joe loses as a Democrat, but wins as an independent with lots of Republican and Independent support, what does that mean?

Well hopefully, it'll mean that the "Harry Truman Democrats" will realize that if they're serious about defending America, they're in the wrong party. Could it mean that some Jews, who vote Democrat 2 to 1, might get the message that they're in the wrong party? Sure.

We've already had a Lieberman spinner feeding the press the arguments that support for Lamont is grounded in anti-Semitism and a Lieberman loss will alienate Jewish voters from the Democratic Party nationwide. Rove is surely thinking, More of this, please. He may really believe that getting these memes to spread across the country (along with the ever-popular "the Democratic Party is falling into the hands of purge-crazed Stalinists") will help him win enough tight races elsewhere that not getting a pickup in Connecticut is a small price to pay. (Especially when the likely winner in Connecticut is a Bush Republican disguised as a Democrat.)

If I'm right about this, those Republican-leaning donors aren't putting themselves in the GOP doghouse at all when they write checks to Joe.

By the way, via Julia, I see that I'm not the only left blogger who's sick of Lieberman yet skeptical about the Lamont fight -- check out the Talking Dog's objections, which don't track mine exactly, but are well worth pondering.

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