Quinnipiac University has released a poll showing “Anti-war Connecticut U.S. Senate candidate Ned Lamont” closing within 15 points of Senator Joseph Lieberman. The implied message seems to be ‘drop your jaw in amazement! The anti-War candidate is getting stronger!’. Actually, no, that would not be a fair reaction, at least if you consider the evidence.
First off, that same poll notes that in a matchup with Republican challenger Alan Schlesinger, Lamont would win by 17 percentage points, not bad, but Lieberman would win by 54 percentage points, a rout by any standard and since most Democrats are mostly concerned with keeping a Democrat’s butt in that Senate seat, this is a clear indicator that Lieberman is more than slightly stronger than Lamont.
So what makes Lamont look good in the poll? Quinnipiac plays a lot of the noise on the Iraq War, going to great lengths to note that Connecticut, which apparently can call itself “The Sheehan State” for its version of ‘supporting the troops’, is happy neither with the President nor the War in Iraq. I guess that means we can expect massive protests in Connecticut for violating Zarqawi’s rights by dropping a few 500-pound bombs on him, but in any case, it follows that the media in Con-state would be fascinated by anyone with the “political courage” to follow the East Coast herd in sliming the War, instead of someone with the real courage to find out the facts for himself and honestly report what he found.
The Democratic Primary is on August 8. That’s important, because even now the sense is that the vote is a way off. This means that poll respondents are thinking in terms of their mood at the moment, rather than how they really plan to vote. The primary date is also important because unlike normal spring primaries, the winner of the Connecticut Senate primary on August 8 will have only thirteen weeks, or three months, to run the general election race, which means that they will pretty much run on the same campaign theme, with a few tweaks. As I mentioned before, Lieberman’s much stronger results in the theoretical matchup demonstrate that he is generally thought-of as the party’s Strongman, which implies that the present poll results are more of an emotional backlash, but one which is not likely to help Lamont in the actual election.
Also, there is the problem of Lamont’s lack of depth. Lamont is best known for his opposition to the War in Iraq. Big woop. The War in Iraq is an established fact of history, not something which is going to come up for another vote, and even the decision on when we reduce or remove troops is not something a Democrat Senator is likely to have all that much effect on, especially in lamont’s case, where the best he can hope for is to be a brand-new, aka ‘no seniority, no influence’, Senator if he wins. So Lamont’s lack of thought and expression on any of the issues which will actually come up before the Senate, is a liability which is not considered now, but will be before August.