Quite a few different interpretations of Obama's statement on Lieberman are floating around. Josh Orton's reading is best supported by the actual text, and also by Josh's experience in Reid's office. Either way, the statement is made, can't be unmade, and it is time to move on with our efforts to keep Lieberman out of the chairmanship.
The vote on Lieberman's chairmanship is only seven days away. As such, it's time for some whip counting. First, let's at least count how many are needed to win:
There are currently 49 Democrats in the Senate right now.
Sanders and Lieberman do not vote on the chairmanships, from my understanding. So, the total stays at 49.
The six incoming Democrats who have been confirmed as winners in 2008--Merkley, Mark Udall and Tom Udall--will get to vote. The three candidates whose campaigns have yet to be decided--Begich, Franken and Martin-do not participate. This increases the total to 55.
Neither Biden nor Obama, nor their replacements, will be around for the November 18th vote. So, subtract two, and we are at 53.
27 votes are needed to win.
In the extended entry, I discuss how the votes will likely break.
Twenty-seven votes to win, but what are the various camps?
Six members of the Senate--Carper, Inouye, Landrieu, Nelson, Pryor and Salazar--publicly backed Lieberman over Democratic nominee Ned Lamont two years ago. As such, it is safe to mark these six in Lieberman's column. They all backed Joe running against a Democrat once before, so why would this be any different?
Evan Bayh (a former DLC chair who was eyeing a Presidential bid back in 2006) and Chris Dodd (also from Connecticut) have come out in support of Lieberman. This brings Lieberman's total to eight.
Howard Fineman's report that Durbin and Schumer are opposed to Lieberman keeping the Homeland Security Chairmanship. While this technically only means two votes against Lieberman, Durbin is #2 in the Senate, and has close ties to Obama. Schumer is the DSCC chair who has overseen the first election of fifteen of the Democratic Senators who will be at the meeting. Those fifteen Senators also won't appreciate Lieberman running against Democrats in 2006 and 2008, since they were all elected in those two years. That is an awful lot of support cutting against Lieberman, potentially even a fatal amount.
Harry Reid also opposes Lieberman keeping the chairmanship. If he didn't, then what would all of this arguing even be about? It is an outside possibility that he supports Lieberman but is getting pressure from Durbin and Schumer, but I don't think so. All of the leaks from Reid's meetings with Lieberman indicate Reid wants to strip Lieberman of the chairmanship.
In addition to Schumer, Reid, and Durbin, nineteen other incumbent Democrats who will be in the Senate in 2010 publicly supported Ned Lamont back in 2006. These are our best chance for votes among sitting Senators.
Overall, these numbers leave me cautiously optimistic. We have the leadership on our side, while Lieberman basically has the Democratic half of the Gang of Fourteen. We also have a large number of first-term Senators who will probably vote with the leadership, and also a large pool of Lamont supporters to lobby. It's far from secure, but I like our chances.
I like our chances even more if we keep contacting Democratic Senators. You can do so here.