Friday, May 19, 2006

Analyzing Connecticut

Several blogs report that Ned Lamont has secured enough delegates at the Connecticut Democratic Part convention to trigger a primary face-off with Joe Lieberman in August. Short-term, this is probably a losing proposition for Democrats. Long-term, this will be to their advantage.

I predict that the primary will be extremely close, and that Lamont is unlikely to win. If he does, Lieberman will run as a spoiler, preferring to throw the November election to the Republican than allow another Democrat into that seat. The party dinosaurs will dither, unwilling to overthrow one of their own but scared to anger a significant minority of the party, and in doing so will lose all credibility with either side.

That's politics. I'm looking at it like I'm looking at the various slow-motion train wrecks happening in America today. I hope Dean will come down squarely behind the primary winner, even if the winner is Lieberman. Why? Because party discipline is more important than any other consideration until Dems get the Congress back.

It's for the CT Dems to pick their senator. If they pick Holy Joe, then the netroots left needs to rein in its outsized sense of moral outrage and vote for party dominance. They won't, of course, and will probably spoil the election, just as the cautious left won't whole-heartedly endorse Lamont should he take the primary, emboldening Lieberman to backstab the party. A Lieberman primary loss is more likely to cost the party the seat due to Lieberman's entrenched constituency. He only needs to collect 3%-4% of the November ballot to spoil the race for Lamont, just as it will only take a sliver of the Lamont supporters refusing to vote for Lieberman to lose it the other way. While it is more "expensive" in voting terms to make a voter switch party affiliation than to refrain from voting, the balance on either side in vote defections is probably about equal.

Heads, the Rethugs win; tails, the Dems lose.

So, looks like the Dems are losing another Senate seat. In the long-run, as I said above, it is probably worth it as it is unlikely that Lieberman can come back to win the seat. There's really no other way to dispose of an incumbent, short of a heart-attack or a plane crash.

The Democrats have an opportunity to replace a senior but untrustworthy incumbent with an untried but inspiring newcomer. It is for the CT voters to decide which one best represents their interests. Once that choice is made, whether for Lamont or for Lieberman, the national party needs to put itself 100% behind the winner of the primary, and the voters need to punch the ticket. No fudging, hemming or hawing. They need to back the choice of the CT Democrats.

If Lieberman loses and tries to run as an Independent, as he has hinted he will do, he must be denounced by the party leadership (state and national) in the harshest terms. Sure, it's a free country and anyone can run for anything they like, but the party needs to stand up for itself.

Until it does, it cannot beat the Rethuglican machine.


No comments: