The Lessons of Today's Stunning Lieberman Poll

by: David Sirota

Thu Sep 13, 2007 at 17:04

This is another in the regular series called Strategery, which is written by David Sirota and appears Wednesdays on OpenLeft (I know today is Thursday - sorry I'm off my a day...).

According to a new poll released today by the nonpartisan firm Research 2000, if Connecticut's 2006 Senate general election happened today, Ned Lamont would defeat Sen. Joe Lieberman handily. What is of particular significance in the numbers is that the shift is due precisely to the deception that Lamont supporters had been exposing during the campaign - but which reporters refused to cover both during the race and in the post-election analysis. This deception on the issue of Iraq goes straight to how the media and political Establishment will do anything to keep this war going. And the two lessons that come out of this poll after looking at its details are worth remembering.

As the poll shows, if the race were held today, Lamont would garner 48 percent of the vote, Lieberman just 40 percent and Republican Alan Schlesinger would get 10 percent. This represents roughly a 16-18  point swing from the actual results (Lieberman 49, Lamont 40, Schlesinger 10), and according to today's poll, the major shift to Lamont from Lieberman would be among Democratic and Independent voters.

You may recall that in a post-election analysis I wrote for In These Times, I noted that Lieberman's entire general election strategy was about pretending that, if reelected, he would lead the fight to end the Iraq War. The man literally portrayed himself as the leader of the antiwar movement after he lost the primary. His very first ad in the general election was him looking to camera saying "I want to help end the war in Iraq." During debates he said "No one wants to end the war in Iraq more than I do." It was, as this well-known YouTube video showed, a positively Nixonian enterprise by Lieberman - and it was a deliberate effort to confuse precisely the same Democratic and Independent voters who now say they would vote for Lamont. As I reported:

"Our internal polling showed that somewhere between 12 and 15 percent of the population said they simultaneously opposed the war and supported Lieberman's position on the war-a signal that Lieberman's confusion campaign was working."

During the campaign, we did all that we could to point out how Lieberman was lying about his position on the war through as many venues as possible - blogs, candidate speeches, and television advertising making the point that "a vote for Lieberman means a vote for more war" (an ad that Lieberman actually held a special press conference to attack for supposedly being not true). But in the general election's stretch run, the independent validators in the race - the local and national media - refused to report on Lieberman's actual positions and votes continuing to support Bush and the war, and this key slice of Democratic and Independent voters remained confused. They voted for Lieberman because they believed that he perhaps had been pro-war before, but had changed - when in fact the only thing that had changed temporarily was his language, but not his actions.

But now this key group of Democrats and Independents isn't confused anymore because, since the election (and, as predicted) Lieberman has become even more supportive of the Iraq War, and is actually publicly pushing a war with Iran. You can't turn on a television and see a story about the political debate over war without seeing/hearing/reading about Lieberman ratcheting up the saber rattling.

David Sirota :: The Lessons of Today's Stunning Lieberman Poll
There are two major lessons from this, beyond the fact that as politicians become more supportive of President Bush's war in Iraq and more supportive of a war in Iran, the more unpopular they become.

First, craven politicians like Lieberman will do anything they can to confuse the public about their positions on the war - and they can succeed if the major media refuses to ask them questions or consistently highlight their hypocrisy. Especially on Iraq, we know that deference and stenography are now standard operating procedure. Remember, it was New York Times' chief White House correspondent Elisabeth Bumiller who said that when it comes to the war, journalists are "very deferential's live, it's very intense, it's frightening to stand up there" and ask politicians tough questions. And you can bet the effort to confuse the public is only going to intensify from both political parties in the coming weeks with the debate over the Iraq War in Congress. We are already seeing politicians trying to pretend that non-binding measures that do nothing to end the war are actually ironclad efforts that will end the war.

Second, this poll should remind us why new and alternative media are so important. We have to continue to develop as many communications resources to get the real story out about all politicians of all parties - Republican, Democrat and Connecticut for Lieberman. We need as many communications tools as possible so that we don't always have to rely on media intermediaries to get the truth out. We need conduits that circumvent those intermediaries to get the truth out - directly (The fact that Markos had to commission this poll in absence of any news organization doing it is just another reminder of why we need said conduits - and thanks for doing it Markos!).

Had Connecticut voters had more information about exactly how Lieberman's campaign to reinvent himself as an antiwar leader was a complete sham, that key segment of the Democratic and Independent voters might not have been confused, and the election - as the poll now confirms - would have gone the other way.

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I dunno (0.00 / 0)
I saw the numbers over at DailyKos and all I can say is:  I dunno.  People say things like this all the time when they are not actually in the voting booth.  When they ARE in the voting booth their hands seem to move of their own accord - at least if one judges by what my Republican neighbors told me before the 2004 election vs. the precinct returns.


wha? (0.00 / 0)
that seems like pretty thin evidence to form the basis of a critique of the legitimacy of a scientific poll.  it assumes that a) their statements to you, (presumably) a democrat, were the same that they would have given to a pollster; b) that your sample size was statistically significant; and c) that the precinct returns you looked at corresponded directly with the people you talked to.

if i recall, the internal lamont polls were off from the eventual results which might be evidence of an actual difference between what people say and what they vote, but that was a weird race and if i recall, everyone was saying that regardless of the polls they had no firm idea of what was happening.

[ Parent ]
Statistically valid (0.00 / 0)
As long as we are on the topic, it is a little unclear to me how you construct a statistically and philosophically valid poll of an alternate history scenario.  A less-than-midterm alternate history scenario at that.  Those polled have zero stake in the question and no constraints or cost/benefit analysis applies to their decision.  Midterm polls are bad enough but a counterfactual midterm poll?  Mark me down for "unimpressed".


[ Parent ]
Lieberman is no Dem (0.00 / 0)
Its quite clear.  Its called buyers remorse. 

[ Parent ]
Maybe it was an issue of time (0.00 / 0)
Lamont was closing toward the end, and maybe more time was needed to put enough anti-war Dems and Inds into his column.

But what I think happened is that once the election was over, Lieberman stopped caring about pretending he was anti-war. It was something he didn't want to do in the first place, as demonstrated by running paid ads telling Dems he disagreed with them on the war during both the 2004 and 2006 primary campaigns.

For a while, Lieberman's refusal to pretend on the war was a great asset to the Lamont campaign.  Had he never changed his rhetoric, Lamont would have won in 2006. Then again, as you point out, had reporters actually called Lieberman on that rhetoric more clearly, then Lamont might have won anyway.

I am still hopeful that this scene won't be repeated in a multi-candidate primary. If multiple candidates can start calling out all others on residual forces, then it could gain steam. As for fixing this problem in general elections like Connecticut, it will take a major overhaul of both the media and popular media consumption habits, as you point out.

Lieberman Showed His Cards In 2000 (4.00 / 1)
The debate between Lieberman and Cheney was a farce.  It was more of a lovefest than a Debate.  I think Lieberman was either bought off or frightened off by the neocons.  As a campaigner he was an utter disappointment.  His campaign for President in 2004 reflected Democrats anger at him because he went nowhere.  Lieberman the neocon is not a new phenomenon.  Why in hell did Al Gore pick him as his VP?  And why in hell did the people of Connecticut not see through this sanctimonius fraud in 2006?  They say hindsight is 20/20--but unless you are deaf, dumb and blind it should have been obvious that Lieberman had gone over to the dark side. 

[ Parent ]
Isn't is comforting to know... (0.00 / 0)
Isn't it comforting to know that Mr. Obama did what he could to insure Lamont's defeat and Lieberman's victory.

During the Patraeus hearings, Obama reiterated that he had "opposed the war in 2006." Actually, in 2006 he was in Connecticut stumping for Lieberman.

Obama's words re: Lieberman's reelection:

"Joe Lieberman's a man with a good heart, with a keen intellect...I am absolutely certain that Connecticut's going to have the good sense to send Joe Lieberman back to the United States Senate so he can continue to serve on our behalf."
- Obama - March 2006

Every time a vote falls short, thanks in part to the unwavering warmongering obstructionism of Lieberman, I think of Obama's part in undermining the Lamont candidacy instead of using his largely undeseserved star power to help him.

When I read the blogs puffing up Obama - searching for little nuggets of meaning in his carefully timed pronouncements - I am consistantly aware that Obama's betrayal of those who took a strong stand against the war means little to them. It's just a blip they can ignore while they search for meaning elsewhere.

[ Parent ]
This made (0.00 / 0)
me angry, then sad, then angry again, and now i'm ready for round 2!

Lieberman Liar Liar Your Pants on Fire (4.00 / 1)
What bothers me about the Lieberman senario is that he says an election can be overturned because the primary ignored the real Democrat. Then Lieberman runs as an Independent Democrat and wins with Republican money and has now become a defacto Republican.  How can any Democrat be happy with this?  Is this the answer for every election?  If you don't like the results you run anyway. 

Are the people of Connecticut just annoyed or are they furious with Lieberman for his deceitful trickery? 

[ Parent ]

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