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Conn. Senate: Survey Says a 4th Term for Lieberman

Although some liberal Democrats in Connecticut continue to agitate for a primary challenge to Sen. Joe Lieberman, a new independent poll shows that defeating the three-term incumbent would be a tall task.

The survey, which was conducted by Quinnipiac University, showed that 64 percent of voters approve of the job Lieberman is doing, compared to 24 percent who disapprove. Interestingly, Lieberman received stronger job approval rating among Republicans (68 percent approve/20 percent disapprove) and Independents (65/23) than Democrats (55/29).

Those numbers were mirrored when voters were asked whether Lieberman deserved reelection in 2006. Overall, 64 percent said he should be reelected, while 24 percent said he shouldn't.  Republicans were strongly in support (75/18) of a fourth term, while Independents (61/24) and Democrats (59/29) were slightly less enthusiastic.

Lieberman's prime vulnerability appears to be his strong support for the war in Iraq. Just 35 percent of all voters think the war in Iraq was the "right thing," compared to 60 percent who called it the "wrong thing." Asked whether they agreed with Lieberman's "strong support" for the war, only one in five Democrats (19 percent) agreed while a whopping 74 percent disagreed.

One thing is for sure after looking over the Quinnipiac data. Former Republican senator and independent Gov. Lowell Weicker isn't the candidate to knock Lieberman off.  Only 27 percent of respondents said they wanted to see Weicker run as an independent against Lieberman, and the Lieberman lead for a head-to-head matchup with Weicker was 65 percent to 21 percent.

The poll did not ask any questions regarding Ned Lamont, a wealthy Greenwich cable company executive contemplating a primary race against Lieberman. "I've got people calling me up and saying 'You're crazy but the issues are important, go for it,'" Lamont told the newspaper Greenwich Time Tuesday. Lamont is opposed to the war in Iraq.

Lieberman has assured local newspapers in recent days that he is running for a fourth term regardless of whether he is opposed in the primary or not. He also ruled out the possibility of being named President Bush's Secretary of Defense, telling a local paper he was "not interested" in the job.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 11, 2006; 2:20 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Posted by: Lampard | January 13, 2006 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Look, people-- the incumbency rate for a sitting senator in a given state is upward of 90%. While Connecticut may vote democratic, it is not as liberal as its voting record might suggest. Let me let you in on a little secret: when you can get 68% of the opposing party to agree with you, you have very little to worry about in terms of re-election. Republicans like him because he plays a dirty game of doctor with the President, and Democrats vote for him because he's a Democrat, and because no other high-profile Democrat is willing to take him on (for an explanation of this phenomenon, see first part of this sentence).

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2006 4:47 PM | Report abuse

It amazes me that Lieberman has been reelected as often as he has. It is obvious that the people in CT are not paying attention and have a high tolerance for whining.

Former Secretary Rubin was involved in the ENRON scandal big time through CitiBank. Lieberman refused to allow the SEC to subpoena him.

Lieberman has voted for every anti consumer legislation and all the Trade deals. He recently voted to stop any law suits related to drug companies' new vaccinations. This was in the evening with only 38 or 39 votes...which Kerry, Feinstein, Boxer, Harry Ried and other Democrats voted for and was attached to an appropriations bill.

Democrats better wake up and start representing middle class if they want the Independent vote.

Posted by: Kathy Chapman | January 11, 2006 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Whoops! You're right Sandwich Repairman. I don't know what I was thinking.

Posted by: J. Crozier | January 11, 2006 3:11 PM | Report abuse

What red state? Connecticut hasn't voted Republican in a presidential election since 1988. It hasn't elected a Republican senator since 1982. CT is a blue state, not a red one.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | January 11, 2006 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Eh...no. My guess is that Joe stands so high in the polls because of two reasons:

1. He's been licking the hindquarters of Bush as a senator of a Red State, thus getting him approval from the majority party voters - the Republicans - in his state. There is nothing that a party likes more than being able to quote support from prominant members of the OTHER party on a regular basis. It is why a lot of Democrats like McCain. He's seen as an independent at times. (Though he isn't.)

2. Most Democrats in his state are pragmatic enough to know that if Joe faces a primary challenger from an unknown Democrat, they could - and likely WOULD - lose this senate seat entirely.

Sorry, but nuance has nothing to do with it. Democrats/liberals are the ones who understand nuance and shades of grey. Republicans are the party of black/white "you're either with us or supporting the terrorists".

In a perfect world, Democrats would be able to come up with a challenger that could give Joe a run for his money in a primary with liberal Democratic voters, and yet still be centrist enough to win in a very solidly Red State. Alas, this is not a perfect world and we're stuck listening to Joe continue to kiss up to that idiot in the White House.

Posted by: J. Crozier | January 11, 2006 2:57 PM | Report abuse

You do not take a stab at the paradox. Why would Joe Liberman stand so high in the polls while it appears the voters dislike the Iraq War so much?

May I suggest that a large percentage of his support comes from those who think the war in Iraq is the wrong war (at least during the moment they were polled) only because they see it as not being pursued agressively enough.

That leads me to believe that most Democrats assuming an anti-war stance will not reap any benefit from their anti-war rhetoric when those polled may believe they are a major reason for this soft war approach.

If you look closely at th timing of the polls you will probably see they started to take a turn south when we pulled back from the initial assault on Fallujah. Coincidentally, they are takinga turn up as the strategy is being more clearly explained.

A large percetage of the 60% calling it the "wrong thing" are those who beleive that if we aren't going to fight aggressively why fight?

They may not understand the strategy of building a democratic country in the middle east to serve as a model....too nuanced possibly.

Either way the Democratic leadership has misunderstood the polling data.....and people look to those like Joe Lieberman as men of priciple, like President Bush.

My estimation is that many of them are in for a rude awakening later in 2006 as they don't see and advantage from trashing national security or continuing to refer to Al Qaeda operatives in the U.S. as "Americans being 'wire-tapped'"

Posted by: Keith Fowler | January 11, 2006 2:47 PM | Report abuse

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