A Research 2000 poll confirms what we assumed to be true: Democrats are not happy with Joe Lieberman.
In fact, 81 percent of Democrats want Lieberman stripped of his Senate Homeland Security Committee chairmanship if he joins with Republicans to block health care reform, compared to only 10 percent who think he should retain it. See the full results here.
Independents agree, 43 percent to 30 percent; all voters also agree, 47 percent to 32 percent. 802 voters were polled by Research 2000 for the Progressive Campaign Change Committee, which has commissioned polling on moderate Democratic senators averse to ambitious health care reform since the debate heated up over the summer.
Here's the question wording:
QUESTION: A year ago, after Independent Senator Joe Lieberman campaigned for Republican John McCain for president, Senate Democrats allowed Lieberman to keep his powerful committee chairmanship. If Lieberman now joins with Republican senators to block a vote on health care reform, do you think Senate Democrats should take away Lieberman's powerful committee chairmanship?
And the full results:
Lieberman came close to having his chairman's gavel stripped after the election, and it was assumed that he retained it because of 1) the conciliatory signals sent by then-President-elect Obama, and 2) the fact that Democrats needed his vote on critical pieces of President Obama's agenda--like, for instance health care reform.
If Lieberman is a solid "no" on health care, the only thing preventing the caucus from removing him as chairman is his vote on climate change legislation. He's working on cap-and-trade legislation with Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC); the three released a general framework for legislation last week, but The Washington Post noted that it showed they hadn't agreed to much yet. Lieberman's stance on cap-and-trade appears aggressive: in releasing that framework, Lieberman stressed that the bill will be intended to "punish" polluters, and he took the lead on cap-and-trade legislation in the last Congress.
Whether that's enough to keep him in Democrats' good graces--or whether he'd stop working on cap-and-trade if his removed as chairman--is anyone's guess.