August 8th, 2006

Day of Reckoning #1: The Frenzied Lamont/Lieberman Ass-Kicking Files

by Philip Baruth

What follows is Tuesday’s all-day diary of the Connecticut primary. It is not a pretty picture.

But it has a fine ending: VDB calls the election for Ned Lamont at 10:55 pm, following on the heels of Raw Story. We estimate Lamont will win with just 51% of the vote, when all are counted.

And tomorrow, we will jump up and down, jubilantly. But now we are tired, and will go home.

*** Primary Day Diary, with Frenzied Updates ***

Tuesday, 10:24 am: Too Calm Before the Storm

Currently midway between Syracuse and Burlington, blogging from the undeniably gorgeous public library in Saratoga Springs. In fact the entire town is like Upstate New York’s version of old-money Louisville: leafy, bricky, languorous in its basic approach to life, and dead-serious in its approach to the Arts.

Clearly the horse racing business still pays well.

And the morning has not been wasted, on the closely watched Lamont/Lieberman/ass-kicking front: took in a long, varied hour of CT primary coverage on Democracy Now! while shooting up the Northway toward Crown Point.

A few interesting bits:

* Overnight polls show the race tightening, with Lieberman claiming potent Joementum, Lamont driving home the argument that CT voters want to “change course.” Media folk from the NY Times to Fox News are claiming it’s suddenly neck-and-neck. Amazing how eagerly and how often news outlets let themselves bite at this last-minute cookie.

Why? Because it satisfies both high and low impulses simultaneously: playing up the horse race provides the impression of balance, even as it allows the outlet to shamelessly pump up its own audience.

Bottom line: Lamont is still seriously leading among likely voters, with Lieberman still moaning that he is not George W. Bush. Advantage Lamont.

* A former CT State Comptroller and unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate pointed out that the Republican candidate — a “cipher,” for reasons having to do with compulsive casino gambling and the forging of a coupon for a free shrimp dinner — is only drawing about 8% in the polls.

But should Lamont win today, setting up the awkward menage a trois, the Republican brass may well bump the shrimp forger for a higher profile candidate. Advantage Lamont. (Of course, if the large pool of Foxwood Casino regulars comes out in force in November, clearly that’s advantage shrimp forger.)

Updates to follow in desperate sequence below, following 6-8 hours of radio silence, beginning now.

Update, 7:11 pm:

It took a strong stomach to make it from Saratoga Springs to Burlington, believe us — the only Lieberman coverage available was a nightmare double-header: Rush followed by Sean Hannity.

And yet, VDB sucked it up and listened, for nearly three solid hours, because you’re worth it.

Worth noting:

The Right-wing talking points were absolutely consistent and unchanging all day, from one show to another, to the Fox News inserts: Joe is a man of conscience in the Roosevelt/JFK tradition, with proper respect for the President in time of war, and Democrats are deliberately shooting themselves in the foot by ousting a so-called Security Democrat.

The idea, of course, is that a Lamont win equals raising a white flag in the war on terror, and demonstrates that liberals are “weak and pathetic in the War on Terror,” in Hannity-speak.

Worth asking, though: if a Lamont win would absolutely seal the Democrats’ permanent minority status, wouldn’t Rush and Sean just, like, shut the hell up until it was a done deal?

Why the desperate pleas to support good old Joe? Why the air of mild panic in repelling Lamont’s charge?

And as we were driving through Paradox — a gorgeous little lakeside town deep in the Adirondacks — Lieberman’s own position suddenly revealed itself in all its contradictory glory. Again and again in his debate with Lamont, Joe insisted that he did not support an “open-ended commitment in Iraq” — but he mocked Lamont for supporting a “timetable for withdrawal.”


Is it possible, working within the confines of the English language, to support neither an open-ended commitment, nor a timetable for withdrawal? Isn’t it one or the other, by definition?

Exit polls due to drop in 37 minutes. Luck be a lady tonight, as Old Blue Eyes would say.

Update #2, 7:39 pm:

Sometimes a really simple maneuver is so simple and basic that it just escapes your notice. But check the reasoning here:

VDB has argued for quite a while that Lieberman’s position on Iraq has been guided as much by his desire to partner politically with John McCain as by anything else. Joe dreams of an “out of the box” VP pick, or failing that, serving in a “unity” cabinet as SecDef.

Of course, both of those would be difficult if not impossible for hard-liners in the GOP to swallow.

Unless . . . Joe was somehow not a Democrat, very technically speaking, by 2008. Makes you wonder.

Especially since there’s not a damn thing else to do until the exit polls drop.

Update #3, 8:26 pm:

Results! Sure, it’s only one percent of precincts reporting, but it’s going down like a cold Fosters on a hot August afternoon. Pipe these digits:

Joseph I. Lieberman votes: 761 (42.1%)
Ned Lamont votes: 1,048 (57.9%)

Pretty much right in line with last week’s polling. Of course these could be results from Lamont’s bowling team. More soon.

Update #4, 8:39 pm:

Lamont betters his percentage to 60%, with 3% of precincts reporting. Connecticut has electronic voting machines, so totals should aggregate pretty quickly from this point out. But so far lights look green across much of the board, in spite of the Lieberman camp’s last minute gnashing of teeth about a crashed website.

Update #5 — Running Stats:

Too much trouble to time, and stamp update, so numbers just strung in reverse chronological order below:


Now just about 52% for Lamont, with 84% of precincts counted. So much for last-minute Joementum.

Essentially unchanged with 80% counted — Ned up, with 51% and a little loose change.

Ned with 51.6%, and that’s 72% of the votes counted. Getting a little nail-bitey in the command bunker. Where’s that Glen Livet . . .

With 50% of the vote counted, it’s Lamont at 52.1%, and Big Joe sucking wind at 47.9%. Results holding fairly firm, and more or less where the polling was yesterday — about 6% margin for Lamont.

Ned at 53.6 with 38% in — the dreaded Joementum perhaps? (Just messing with you — still looks good, although several websites are maintaining that urban numbers will come in after suburban, supposedly leading to Lieberman tally jumps in the later hours.)

Very slight movement: with 25% precincts reporting, Ned now at 55%

Essentially unchanged at 17% precincts counted — Ned with 56.3%, and MyDD reporting that Lieberman has lost his home district.

Essentially unchanged at 11% of precincts reported, still about 56.4%

Ned now has 56.6% with 6 % counted.

And as might become obvious, you return now to the top of the post, for the final good news. Like Pulp Fiction, but more confusing and digital.