So, some commenters in my post below
think that I am trying to play the expectations game by listing all of the various ways that the Connecticut Senate primary might be too close to call. To be perfectly honest, they are both right and wrong.
First, why they are wrong. I did not write a single false thing in that article. Everything that I wrote I both believe and is a real possibility. In my gut, I still do not expect Lamont to blow Lieberman out. Given the difficulty of polling on this race, it is a real possibility that the race is closer than either the 54-41 from Quinnipiac
or the 53-43 from Research 2000
. Further, I don't know exactly what the internal numbers are (and I don't want to know, for fear of leaking), but I hear from people I trust that while Lamont is ahead in such polls, he is not ahead by as much as he is in either the Q-poll or the Research 2000 poll. It is also a real possibility that Lieberman's ground game will surpass Lamont's, and that this will help Lieberman gain a few points. It is also possible that the new voter registration numbers could be a nice boast for Lieberman. It is further possible that the high media attention to this race will turnout more low information voters
, and that those voters will lean Lieberman. All of these are real possibilities, and after twelve years of experiencing little except electoral defeat for my favorite candidates in American politics, I am inclined to be pessimistic and assume that most or all of these possibilities are true.
Of course, like I said, those people who accused me of spinning or playing the expectations game are also correct. While everything that I wrote above is both very possible and something my gut tells me to believe, I also know that there are another set of pro-Lamont possibilities that I intentionally did not list. These possibilities could very well allow Lamont to not only win, but to actually crush Lieberman on August 8th. Until they happen, I am not inclined to believe them, but here they are:
- Despite 100% name recognition, Lieberman is stuck in the low forties in all public polls. This means that on Election Day, he will either stay in the low forties or, at best, move up to the mid-forties. Undecideds tend to break for challengers, which could bode very well for Lamont.
- As both Mystery Pollster and Chris Barnes have argued, the current likely voter models being used for the primary could very well be undercounting liberals. This would mean that Lamont could surge even further ahead on Election Day, since he holds a commanding, more than 2-1 lead among liberals right now.
- The trend in this race is up, up and up for Lamont. In fact, since late April, he has consistently gained about one point every two days against Lieberman. This trend seems to continue no matter what the Lieberman campaign and its allies attempt. We have seen no reason to believe that this trend will suddenly reverse in the final week of the campaign.
- As Jambro has argued, of all the new Democratic registrations that have come since May 8th, not a single one has come from a registered Republican. Considering the Lamont surge, and the general progressive excitement on the ground, it could very well be that the majority of these new registrations are pro-Lamont. For a while now, liberals have not had a tendency to register as Democrats, but the buzz about this campaign could very well have changed that trend in CT.
- Lamont's ground game could very well be superior to Lieberman's. Back during the spring, the Lamont campaign developed a huge voter ID field program as a result of needing so many signatures to get on the ballot. By contrast, Lieberman did not start his field operation and voter ID campaign until recently, so it may very well not be as well developed. Further, while Lieberman has a couple thousand paid canvassers, Lamont has several thousand actual volunteers. Three months ago, when I visited, they said they had over 2,500 volunteers--who knows how many they have by now.
Now, if all of those possibilities are true, then Lamont will indeed trounce Lieberman on August 8th by at least 10%. However, as an American progressive, I have grown twenty-five times burned, fifty times shy when it comes to making grand political predictions for my candidates. These pro-Lamont possibilities could very well be true, but my gut tells me that the pro-Lieberman possibilities are more likely. In addition to listening to my gut, I did not bother to list most of these pro-Lamont possibilities because I did not really see where it would get us with three days left. Claiming that Lamont would win by 15 could soften pro-Lamont activism on the ground, make me look stupid if it doesn't happen, sink all of our spirits if it doesn't happen, and actually help Lieberman after August 8th if it suddenly looks like he beats expectations in the primary. What good would that do us? The way I figured it, if the pro-Lamont possibilities are in fact the reality, then on August 8th, we can be pleasantly surprised and celebrate late into the night. Right now, however, we need to take all of the pro-Lieberman possibilities as seriously as we can, because otherwise we could see an historic victory slip from our grasp. If I was spinning, I was spinning by omission and by the pessimism the last several years of politics have beaten into me. Call it what you want, but I think it is the attitude we all need to have. Let's not cause a fit of self-congratulation to result in a lack of much needed activism.