July 11, 2006

Joe Hedges His Bets

With less than a month to go until primary day, Sen. Joseph Lieberman has bitten the bullet and registered to run as an independent should he be defeated by Ned Lamont for the Democratic nomination.

Actually, he's gone that route one better by registering a new party: Connecticut For Lieberman. This way as long as he secures the necessary petition signatures, his "party" will appear higher up on the list in that voting machine than if he just ran as an individual.

Cynical, perhaps. Why does a guy with so much name recognition need to be higher up than, say, Waldo Whats-his-name or some other nitwit who gets on the ballot? He really doesn't. I think the key here is that if he has to pursue this avenue he can craft his campaign in a way that enhances the name recognition and attracts more independents and Republicans his way. I don't know just how many more, but hey every advantage helps.

Lamont's campaign tipped its hand a little too early when it tried to force Lieberman into a corner by looking for a pledge to back Lamont should he win the nomination. Had they kept their powder dry and waited for this exact moment, they could have pounced on the three-term Senator as being disloyal to his party and hammered that home for three plus weeks.

Even though Lamont and the LoseOn.org crowd will adopt that strategy anyway, it will probably be less effective since they've already tried it. Lieberman's internal polls must show that this tactic has done all the damage that it's going to do already. And published polls show that Lieberman would win bigger as an independent than as a Democrat anyway. If you're a registered Democrat (not affiliated with the nutroots) who has paid very little attention to this whole brouhaha, who are you more likely to be motivated to come out on election day for? A known quantity like Lieberman or some guy you've never heard of like Ned Lamont, who happens to have a (D) next to his name?

I still think Lieberman will win on August 8th. But there are so many variables here - summer vacations, low turnout, apathy - that this move is the smart one. Whether or not it will be necessary remains to be seen.

Posted by: Gary at 02:25 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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