Lieberman

by Patrick Appel

A reader writes:

Your reader must have smoked something potent this morning if they think there is even a snowball's chance in HELL that Lieberman will be re-elected.  I can GUARANTEE that Sarah Palin will have a better shot at being the next Senator from Connecticut than ole Joe.  He is universally hated by all in Connecticut - save for a few Republicans. I think after Obama's mistake in campaigning for him in '06, and being summarily back-stabbed, he will make it a personal mission to make sure that POS goes down and goes down HARD.

Nate Silver looked at Lieberman's favorables a few months ago (which is where I got the outdated graph above). Don't underestimate the advantages of incumbency, and don't forget that most voters are not paying much attention to health care negotiations but will notice whether a bill gets passed or not. I'd not bet on Lieberman but I'm not counting him out either. Another reader thinks Joe is cooked:

I have to disagree with your reader.   This isn't smart politics by Joe.  It is Joe being Joe.  He is burning bridges, taking revenge, and maybe even acting out of some sincere philosophical position.  

Joe won in 2006 because a significant chunk of Democratic voters still identified with him as a Democrat, just one somewhat more centrist than Lamont (that, and Lamont was an amateurish mediocre candidate).  People I know who supported him saw him as a good Democrat who was being punished for his pro-war stance.  This group, combined with the overwhelming support of Republican voters got him elected.  Since then Joe has worked overtime alienating the rest of the Democratic party.  The Party establishment in CT wanted to censure him after the 2008 election and only did not at the behest of Obama.  It is simply impossible that he would be the Democratic nominee in 2012.  If he were to run in 2012 he would probably do so as an Independent, and he would be cross endorsed by the Republicans.  This time no one will be fooled.

Secondarily, the "attack, attack, then vote for the final bill" ploy will not work this time, though it is a favorite of Leiberman's. Why?  Because this whole process is just so public.  Between the importance, size and complexity of the legislation and the long time it's taken to get this far, the sausage making has been far too public, and far too nauseating.  The usual veil of ignorance and apathy that makes that ploy so effective does not apply to health care reform.

Third, your reader is wrong on the money angle.  He already gets tons of money from the health insurance industry.  They are corporate contributors - they won't go to the mat for anyone.  Sure, they'll give him money.  But they will also give the Democratic nominee money.  And remember, every time Joe opens his mouth his future Democratic opponent will raise another million from enraged liberals across the land.  Is there anyone in the Senate with a bigger target on his back?

He won't run in 2012

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