The Lieberman Follies

From The Onion The Hill:

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) is not ruling out running as a Democratic candidate in his reelection race in 2012.

Lieberman said on Thursday that he has been asked by friends about the possibility of returning to the party that nominated him for vice president in 2000.

“It’s a ways away,” Lieberman told The Hill. “I’ve been asked, ‘Are you running?’ and I’ve said, ‘You have to always assume that anybody in office is running until and unless they not only announce but they actually leave the office to run for reelection.’

“I’m an independent Democrat, and that gives me options,” he added.

Maybe, but it doesn’t give him some new way of doing math. About a month ago, Quinnipiac (inexplicably, since this match-up can’t happen the way it was asked) polled Independent Joe Lieberman v. Democrat Richard Blumenthal (who, a week before, floated his interest in challenging Lieberman in 2012). Blumenthal won handily, 58-30. More interesting was the results in the subgroup of Democrats: Here, Blumenthal embarrassed Lieberman 83-9.

Three years is, admittedly, an eternity in politics. Anything can, and often does, happen. But erasing a -74, not to mention the memories of the people who vote in Democratic primaries of ignoring their will in 2006 and then suggesting that their Presidential nominee doesn’t put America first, is just not realistic. Blumenthal, or Murphy, or DeLauro, or Courtney, or Bysiewicz, would coast in a primary with Lieberman. If they ultimately take a pass, they will be missing a golden opportunity.

The outlook isn’t much better for Lieberman in a three-way general election. Lieberman, who lost the 2006 Democratic primary, had a general election win predicated on retaining roughly 1/3 of Democrats and on the Republicans forgetting that they had a nominee (Lieberman got roughly 70% of the Republican vote). Neither of those things are likely to happen again in 2012. Democrats, because they learned their lesson already (if Lieberman can’t win a Democratic primary, and I think he cannot, there is no way he can expect to hold a third of Democrats in a general), and Republicans because they can actually win the seat if they run, and support, a serious candidate.

If Democrats don’t want that possibility to come to pass, they should spend the time between November 2010 and November 2012 publicly and privately making clear to Senator Lieberman that he cannot win under any scenario.

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6 responses to “The Lieberman Follies

  1. Once again, it’s all about him. I’d like to think he would just take the next three years to finish out his term and go quietly into retirement but it seems like 2012 may end up being a 2006 redux.

  2. Lieberman’s softer, more conciliatory image is probably aimed at 2012. I’m guessing we’ll see him campaign for Dodd next year (if Dodd runs) and in other ways get closer to state Democrats.

  3. Lieberman’s softer, more conciliatory image is probably aimed at 2012. I’m guessing we’ll see him campaign for Dodd next year (if Dodd runs) and in other ways get closer to state Democrats.

    No doubt about it. I think Lieberman is a smart enough politician to realize what the future has in store for him. An overwhelming majority of Dems in the state wouldn’t think twice about throwing around the word “traitor” when it comes to Lieberman’s actions post-primary and during the ’08 election. He has seen Blumenthal in his rearview mirror for the better part of his entire career and now he can see Chris Murphy too. My guess is that he will try to see if he can get his positives up among Dems by backing Obama and Dodd. If they don’t go up (which I don’t think they will), I think he retires. While I don’t get too much out of the host of rematch polls that show Lamont beating him at various points in the past few years, I think he see’s Blumenthal as a legit threat. Moreover, Repubs and old school Dems were afraid of a Senator Lamont; they aren’t afraid of a Senator Blumenthal. Lieberman has to realize his chances of getting re-elected in 2012 as a member of the “CT for Lieberman” Party are slim.

    Like you said, three years is an eternity in politics. But to Lieberman, three years must seem like it is just around the corner and I think he is going to do everything in his power to mend ties with the Dems only to find that many of them are simply unwilling to forgive him for what he did during the last two election cycles.

  4. Joe Lieberman has a sense of humor. Who would’ve thunk it?

  5. Blumenthal, or Murphy, or DeLauro, or Courtney, or Bysiewicz, would coast in a primary with Lieberman. If they ultimately take a pass, they will be missing a golden opportunity.

    M. Jodi Rell could coast in a Democratic primary with Lieberman…

  6. catchlightning

    I think it’s a question of whether the next “surge” Lieberman adheres to — this one being the “centrist” surge — is considered digestible by enough Democrats or not. So far I would say Lieberman is reading tea leaves fairly well. The key is whether Blumenthal will seek to be perceived as progressive enough to win. That’s up to him.

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