WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — Right after the Connecticut Senate primary, I ran the numbers
and concluded that there's no way Lamont wins the Senate race.
After some time on the ground, I'll give credit where it's due — Lamont's folks are fired up, no doubt. Lieberman is the same guy we've always seen on the campaign trail - serious, sober, ponderous, buttoned-down — the way that non-villainous senators are portrayed in the movies. There's a reason that we all laugh when we hear the word "Joe-mentum," and it's because Lieberman's personality is the antithesis of momentum; it's thoughtful intertia.
Lamont's personality isn't quite "Ned-drenaline" personified, either; but his supporters are a bit adrenalized; frenzied, angry, wild-eyed, finger-jabbing, spitting a bit when they speak.
But after breaking down the recent polls that show Lieberman up 2, we see why Lamont's going to have a tough time making up those last few points.
First up, the ARG poll. Let's remember that voter registration in Connecticut is 33.4 percent Democrats, 21.9 percent registered Republicans, and 44.4 percent unaffiliated voters. The ARG poll breaks down 26 percent Republican, 39 percent Democrat, and 35 percent unaffiliated. So, recognizing that it's tough for a poll to match the electorate as a whole perfectly, this poll seems to have a bit too many Democrats and Republicans and a bit too few Independents/unaffiliated.
Republicans are breaking big for Lieberman - 66 percent for him; 8 percent for Others (presumably Schlesinger) and... 15 percent for Lamont? That strikes me as odd.
Democrats are splitting 62 percent for Lamont to 38 percent for Lieberman.
But the unaffiliated are breaking 47 percent to 45 percent in favor of Lamont? I wouldn't have foreseen that, but let's presume that's accurate.
Anyway - if we presume the ARG poll's assessment within each group of voters is accurate, and that the turnout is more comparable to the makeup of registered voters as a whole, we get:
14.45 percent (Lieberman Republicans)
12.02 percent (Lieberman Democrats)
19.98 percent (Lieberman Unaffiliated)
46.45 percent for Lieberman
3.2 percent (Lamont Republicans)
20.7 percent (Lamont Democrats)
20.8 percent (Lamont Unaffiliated)
44.76 percent for Lamont
Again, close, but no cigar for Lamont. And again, this sampling presumes Lamont is getting 15 percent of Republicans, outdrawing Schlesinger by 2 to 1.
Applying the same formula to the Rasmussen numbers (The free version gives no information on Republicans for Lamont):
13.57 percent (Lieberman Republicans)
9.01 percent (Lieberman Democrats)
20.86 percent (Lieberman Unaffiliated)
43.44 percent for Lieberman
0 percent (Lamont Republicans)
23.04 percent (Lamont Democrats)
15.09 percent (Lamont Unaffiliated)
38.14 percent for Lamont
Lamont would need to make up 5.3 percent of the total vote among Republicans, or about 39 percent of Lieberman's total among GOP-registered voters. In other words, under this sampling, Lamont would need a bit more than 24 percent of the Republicans to support him.
Not bloody likely.
The bottom line in this race remains what it was right after the primary: There are just too many Lieberman-supporting Republicans and unaffiliated in the state for Lamont to overcome, even with a 69 percent to 27 percent margin among Democrats. Joe-Mentum collects voters from all three pools; Ned-renaline needs to top him with only two. The challenger needs a dramatic transformation among the unaffiliated between now and Election Day, or for a big, big chunk of the Republican Party to suddenly decide to support Lamont - even more than the 15 percent found in the ARG poll.
So, good for Lamont that he's closed the gap to a few points in the most recent polls; the winner is likely to be ahead by a single-digit margin on Election Night. But so far, there's no evidence in the polls to believe the winner will be anyone but Joe Lieberman.