Thursday, 12 October 2006

Joe Ahead, Ned Dead?

Ken Berwitz

If you know me at all, you know that I have very little regard for political poll numbers (though I do have a degree of faith in movement from one wave to the next within the same poll).

That said, however, I have to admit that Lieberman's lead over Ned Lamont makes all the sense in the world to me. 

The latest polling, for whatever it's worth, comes from SurveyUSA.  It shows Lieberman leading Lamont 53% to 40%, with a couple of percent for Schlesinger, the Republican (who better hope his family sticks with him or he may be flatlined altogether).

If these data are accurate Lamont is not only behind by plenty, but a) Lieberman is over the magic 50% mark and b) there is almost no "undecided" for Lamont to draw from. 

So what should we make of this? 

First, it is probable that a lot of voters in Connecticut do not want to lose the combination of effectiveness and seniority Lieberman provides, regardless of whether he runs independent. They certainly have done it before (think Lowell Weicker).  This hurts Lamont even among voters who may like him.

Second, Lamont barely won the Democratic primary (52% - 48%) so almost half of those voters preferred Lieberman even then. It stands to reason that many still would now.

Third, let's remember that primaries draw a disproportionate segment of  party hardliners and political junkies. Since Lamont is a darling of the hardline left he therefore would logically do better in a Democratic primary than in a general election.

Take all this into account and you realize that a comfortable lead for Lieberman makes perfect sense. 

Or, put another way, it's no fluke if Lamont flounders.  (I thought I'd toss that in for the halibut.)

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