Lamont surges, Lieberman fades in primary poll

With less than a month to go, the incumbent is on the ropes.

Published July 20, 2006 12:39PM (EDT)

In early June, the Quinnipiac University poll had Joe Lieberman leading Ned Lamont 55-40 percent among likely Democratic primary voters. The new Quinnipiac poll is out today, and this time Lamont leads Lieberman 51-47 percent among likely primary voters.

Yes, the poll has a 3.8 percent margin of error, making the 51-47 percent lead "razor thin" in Quinnipiac's words; the the Associated Press goes as far as calling it a "dead heat." But the thing to see here is the movement. In a little more than a month, Lamont has gone from something like 15 points down to something like four points up -- and the primary is now just a few weeks away.

The bad news for progressives: In a three-way race -- which would come about if Lieberman loses the Democratic primary but decides to run on the independent Connecticut for Lieberman ticket -- Lieberman beats both Lamont and the Republican challenger, Alan Schlesinger. The good news: In a two-way race, Lamont beats Schlesinger, although not nearly by the margin Lieberman would. The reason? Lieberman would get lots of support from Republican voters, just as he does from corporate donors who usually favor the GOP.

So if you're Joe Lieberman, why not just switch parties and run where your pro-Bush, pro-war votes might be more appreciated? Rumors this week suggested that Lieberman might do just that if he loses the Democratic primary on Aug. 8. But his campaign said Wednesday that that's not going to happen. "He has said he's always been a Democrat, and he'll always be a Democrat," Lieberman spokeswoman Marion Steinfels tells Talking Points Memo. "Joe Lieberman will never run as a Republican."

Of course, if he wouldn't sometimes legislate as one, he wouldn't find himself in the trouble he does today.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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