Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Why Lieberman would have lost

If it's true that Joe Lieberman's announcing his retirement tomorrow it's a smart decision: at this point the only voters who like him are Republicans and that's not going to take him very far in a heavily Democratic state.

A poll we did in Connecticut in late October found that his approval rating was 33% with 54% of voters disapproving of him. Lieberman's problem if he had decided to run for reelection at this point is that he really has no remaining base. He has significant liabilities with Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike that would make the path to another term very difficult:

-Republicans. Lieberman does maintain positive approval ratings with Republicans at a 48/43 spread and those are the voters who gave him his highest level of support in 2006, more so than independents. But that 48% approval is well below the 70% of their votes he got the last time around and a Tea Party infused GOP would have been a lot less inclined to vote for Lieberman in 2012 than its voters were the last time around. A poll we did in early October found that even if Republicans nominated a weak candidate- Peter Schiff who finished third in the 2010 primary behind a candidate who dropped out- Lieberman's share of their vote would drop to 24%, barely a third of what he got the last time around.

-Independents. Lieberman won a majority of the independent vote in 2006. That's a really hard feat- even if they're called independents most independent voters either usually support Democrats or usually support Republicans. Charlie Crist learned that the hard way last year, getting only 38% of the indy vote in his Florida Senate campaign. Lieberman has fallen way out of favor with independent voters over the last five years though and there's pretty much no way he could have won a majority of their support again. His approval with them on our last poll wasn't much better than it was with Democrats- 34% giving him good marks, 49% bad ones. When we were testing three way match ups in early October Lieberman finished a distant third with independent voters.

-Democrats. Most Connecticut voters are Democrats and they're the folks who like Lieberman the least. Even after he lost the party nomination in 2006 he still won a third of his former party's vote. But his approval spread with them now is 24/64 and he was polling at 14-16% with them in the three way matches we tested in early October, less than half the support he got from them the last time around. Endorsing John McCain may have been a final straw for a lot of the Democrats who stuck with Lieberman even after his loss to Ned Lamont.

You have to give Connecticut Senators credit for this: they can read the writing on the wall. When it became clear Chris Dodd was not going to be able to survive his poor approval numbers he got out and it looks like Lieberman's doing the same thing.


Alexander Laska said...

I would like to see some polling in the near future on the CT Senate race, now that former state secretary Susan Byseiwicz has announced her candidacy.

AG said...

The real question now becomes: will Ned Lamont run again?

NRH said...

Lamont has said he has no intention of running again, though I suppose he could always pull a Brett Favre and come back anyhow.

Jonny V said...

very good news - without Lieberman in the mix the Democrats should be able to take this seat (with a real Democrat) pretty easily.

Anonymous said...

Ned is not running. Period. Two painful losses were enough.

Instead it's going to be either Congressman Chris Murphy, or Congressman Joe Courtney.

Susan Bysiewicz stock has fallen quite low with party insiders, (after the worst year imaginable), and she won't get the nomination.


Anderson Scooper
New Haven, CT

Anonymous said...

I remain hopeful that Lieberman will run. If nothing else, I would love to see all the people announcing his retirement with egg on their faces. It would be one thing if people were speculating about it, but the typical headline is "Lieberman out" not "Lieberman announcing 2012 plans on Wednesday" or even "Will Lieberman retire?".

Or in this case, a more appropriate headline would be "Why Lieberman would lose". Of course, that article was mostly written the last time this came up.

Didn't NPR's Tucson goof teach the media anything?

Anonymous said...

Who would be the strongest Republican? Rell? Simmons?

Anonymous said...

We need both a North Dakota and Connecticut poll. Actually WVA too with the special election. C'mon PPP, get all three in the field!!!

Dustin Ingalls said...

We can't do ND. We're doing WV this coming weekend.

Anonymous said...

I hope you didn't start the West Virginia poll yet.

Yesterday the WV Supreme Court ruled that a Special Gubernatorial Election has to take place this year.

I hope you'll include a few questions about it ... ;-)

Anonymous said...

By can't do ND, do you mean not allowed to?

Dustin Ingalls said...

"I hope you didn't start the West Virginia poll yet."

No, we usually start our weekend polls on Friday night or Saturday morning.

Good tip.

Anonymous said...

Peter Schiff is the best choice period!

Someone needs to bring some common sense back to this state.

The Interesting Times said...

Is Jodi Rell interested in running? That's the only way I can see this race being competitive without Lieberman in the mix.

Otherwise this will be a solid Democratic win.

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