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August 08, 2006

Does Lamont Hurt Downticket?

By Ezra

Over at Tapped, my colleague and friend Alec Oveis has a pessimistic post on the Lieberman/Lamont primary:

this seems like a terrible waste of influence. Kos, Stoller, and Hamsher could have gone to Connecticut to help Democrats defeat actual Republicans. Instead, they’re there helping one Democrat defeat another. I understand that Lieberman sometimes serves a useful role for Republicans, but I’m afraid some bloggers and activists have lost sight of the real goal for 2006 -- retaking the House -- and in the process have made it more difficult to achieve.

I'm assuming, for the moment, that Alec means Kos, Stoller, and Hamsher could have directed their online minions to fund and organize for Democrats running against Republicans, as I don't much see what good Markos can do on the ground. That said, I think Alec makes a common mistake here: There is not X amount of money floating around the netroots to be funneled to one candidate or another in the way there's X amount of money lying in the DCCC coffers. The amount of online cash that actually emerges is a dependent variable -- dependent on the enthusiasm for the candidates, the excitement of the races, the sense of momentum, and so forth. Lamont, who's raised a relatively paltry amount of cash online, isn't necessarily draining a cent from these other races. If he wins, the sense of positive reinforcement -- we actually won one! -- may well convince his online donors that their contributions actually can effect a race, and they may open their wallets far wider than they otherwise would.

Additionally, I think Alec is wrong that the race is potentially hurting the downticket campaigns in Connecticut. Assume Lamont wins the primary and, as seems likely, Lieberman contests the general. Theoretically, the amount of excitement swirling around two putative Democratic candidates, both of whom will trumpet their progressive credentials and ostentatiously support the consensus Democratic House nominees, may, in generating turnout from both moderate and liberal wings of the Democratic primary, bring out more left-leaning voters than either candidate would activate on his own. Indeed, so much as I'd love to see Lieberman exit the contest tonight, the absolute absence of either Lamont or Lieberman from the general (and thus the disaffection of their partisans) is, in fact, the only scenario I can envision where their primary hurts the House candidates.

August 8, 2006 | Permalink

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Comments

Were you peeking at the comments? Neil said I should say that on your blog :).

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Aug 8, 2006 9:05:18 PM

"...in generating turnout from both moderate and liberal wings of the Democratic primary, bring out more left-leaning voters than either candidate would activate on his own. "

Depends what you mean by "left-leaning".

Lamont is going to win big tonight because left-leaning upscale Democrats are showing up in big numbers, while left-leaning downscale Democrats are staying home.

Harold Schaitberger annouced the firefighters will support Lieberman as an indie. If you have lots of downscale left-leaning Lieberman Dems fighting lots of upscale left-leaning Lamont Dems this October, I have trouble it seeing it as anything but a rather major hinderance toward taking down the CT GOP House 3.

Posted by: Petey | Aug 8, 2006 9:16:19 PM

It's also not at all clear how Lieberman would message his independent campaign. He might try to win by getting 25% of Republicans, 30% of Democrats, and 75% of Independents. In which case he doesn't need to tout his progressive anything.

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Aug 8, 2006 9:21:24 PM

Hotline is saying GOP candidates might line up to endorse Lieberman in an independent bid. I'm not sure how that actually helps Lieberman given the whole DINO charge.

Posted by: Christmas | Aug 8, 2006 9:25:22 PM

Thanks a lot for posting this, Nick!

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Aug 8, 2006 9:27:21 PM

Oh, whoops! This is Ezra in fact. This is probably the first time the post-author error has gone in that direction.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Aug 8, 2006 9:28:47 PM

"It's also not at all clear how Lieberman would message his independent campaign."

Quite true. Part of what makes the 3 way so interesting is just how difficult it is to envision the dynamics.

But Lieberman's campaign will, by necessity, attempt to blur partisan lines. And the effort to defeat blue-state GOP representatives is dependent on accentuating partisan lines.

Posted by: Petey | Aug 8, 2006 9:30:41 PM

Of course, all this speculation is academic if Lamont doesn't actually win tonight, and you'll notice his lead is getting narrower and narrower as results come in...

Posted by: Christmas | Aug 8, 2006 9:34:56 PM

"Of course, all this speculation is academic if Lamont doesn't actually win tonight, and you'll notice his lead is getting narrower and narrower as results come in..."

Yup.

I promised in the last thread to eat my laptop if Lamont didn't win. I wonder what the most palatable cooking preparation would be?

Posted by: Petey | Aug 8, 2006 9:39:14 PM

The margin is now under 4 points...

Posted by: Petey | Aug 8, 2006 9:41:01 PM

You could just send me your laptop and pretend you'd eaten it. If I got a laptop out of this I wouldn't much mind.

Posted by: Christmas | Aug 8, 2006 9:43:27 PM

72% reporting, and the margin is a shade over 3 points.

If Lieberman actually wins tonight, everything I know about politics is wrong.

Posted by: Petey | Aug 8, 2006 9:54:43 PM

Get ready to go through the looking-glass, Petey.

Posted by: Christmas | Aug 8, 2006 9:57:22 PM

Petey,

Why would less-wealthy Dems support Lieberman - along with unions?

Has his attempt at branding Lamont as a wealthy dilletante been that successful?

BTW, I see spread as still being 4 points for Lamont.

Posted by: Stephen | Aug 8, 2006 10:12:08 PM

Oh, and a prediction: Lamont will win, Lieberman will issue a legal challenge to the results.

Posted by: Stephen | Aug 8, 2006 10:15:41 PM

This is great! Lieberman loses. This shows the world that the presidential candidate endorsed by the Democratic party has, indeed, lurched hard to the left.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Aug 8, 2006 10:22:23 PM

Make that the party that endorsed Lieberman just six years ago has lurched hard to the left.
Wow! The adrenaline has gotten to me!

Posted by: Fred Jones | Aug 8, 2006 10:25:14 PM

On another high note: Cynthia "above the law" McKinney will most likely lose her bid for re-election.

Good riddance.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Aug 8, 2006 10:27:59 PM

I don't think it's right for Fred, as a bot, to post here pretending to be an actual human being.

Posted by: Christmas | Aug 8, 2006 10:29:22 PM

Yeah, shut him up! Who does he think he is with a differing opinion?

What we want is an echo..echo...echo....echo.....echo......echo.......echo.......................echo.........................

Posted by: Fred Jones | Aug 8, 2006 10:34:32 PM

"Why would less-wealthy Dems support Lieberman"

For the same reason that in all the primary polling, higher income correlates with Lamont support and lower income correlates with Lieberman support.

Posted by: Petey | Aug 8, 2006 10:38:44 PM

Fred's 1/2, but those people who like their Democratic representatives to be non-embarrassing are 2/2.

Posted by: djw | Aug 8, 2006 10:39:05 PM

(so far...)

Posted by: djw | Aug 8, 2006 10:39:55 PM

For the same reason that in all the primary polling, higher income correlates with Lamont support and lower income correlates with Lieberman support.

Well, sure, Petey. But why? What is the motivation for that support?

Posted by: Stephen | Aug 8, 2006 10:43:56 PM

89% reporting, and the margin is still around 3 points. The precincts still out are going to have to be some awfully good Lieberman precincts for him to pull this out.

The tightness of the race is good news for Lieberman's indie bid. If Lamont had really won in a landslide, the pressures on Lieberman to drop would have been immense. There will still be a lot of pressure on him, but he'll likely be able to withstand the immediate fallout with a close result.

I'm still befuddled about how to square the results with the turnout reports from this afternoon.

Posted by: Petey | Aug 8, 2006 10:48:30 PM

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