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Is Blanche Lincoln the new Joe Lieberman?

Topics: Arkansas Senate , Blanche Lincoln , Primary elections

With Lt. Governor Bill Halter entering the Democratic Senatorial primary in Arkansas, the first question most are asking is "can he win?" I think we can agree that Senator Blanche Lincoln faces almost unprecedented odds in the general election. How likely is a Halter victory? According to a January Mason-Dixon poll, Lincoln led Halter 52-34% in a hypothetical match-up. In addition, her approval rating among Democrats was only 51% (with 35% disapproving) in an early February Public Policy Polling poll. While these polls indicate that Lincoln is vulnerable to a primary challenge, I would argue the polls could be underselling her vulnerability.

As it stands right now, it is clear Halter is going to challenge Lincoln from the left, with Lincoln's position against the public option being the main issue. While the polling numbers gauging the public option in Arkansas are a little stale, we do know that a December Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll found that 84% of Democratic primary voters supported the public option. In a late October poll conducted by Research 2000 for the liberal Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America, 43% of Democratic voters said that if Lincoln did not support the public option, they would be less likely to vote for her.

Thus, if Halter can phrase the health care question correctly (public option vs. government run healthcare, etc.), I think Lincoln can be beaten on this one issue. Why do I believe this even though Halter is not winning already?

The idea of an ideological one issue primary makes me think back to the last big time Democratic Senatorial primary as it stood two months out.

Two months before the 2006 Connecticut Democratic Senatorial primary between Ned Lamont and Senator Joe Lieberman, a Quinnipiac poll headline read in part 'Anti-Bush, Anti-War Feeling Does Not Hurt Lieberman'. Quinnipiac found that 60% of Democrats approved of Joe Lieberman job performance. This relatively high approval from Democrats was despite 55% of Democrats knowing Lieberman supported the War in Iraq, 72% of Democrats wanting a decrease in the troops in Iraq, and 83% of Democrats believing that we should have never entered into the War. Why the disparity between support for Lieberman and support for the war? Only 12% of Democrats in this late April poll said a candidate's position on the war was the only issue they were voting on.

Flash forward two months to mid July and early August 2006 and the final three Quinnipiac polls for the Democratic primary. After two months of Ned Lamont hammering Lieberman over his support for the War in Iraq, the importance of the War as an issue rose dramatically and Lieberman's approval dropped among Democrats. In the final three polls, the percentage of voters who pledged to vote again Lieberman because of Iraq was 28%, 44%, and 36%. That's anywhere from a 16-32% jump from the late April polling, with the two higher percentages polled in the two weeks before the primary. In addition, Lieberman's approval dropped from 60% and a net approval of +29 in late April to an approval of 47% and net approval of +3% in mid July.

What am I getting at here? Voters in Connecticut did not seem so interested in voting for or against Lieberman based on the Iraq War, despite the overwhelming number of them opposed to it. Then another candidate (Lamont) breached the subject, and it began to unravel for Lieberman. His approval ratings took a dive, and the Iraq War that the primary voters were against become much more important in determining their votes.

In Arkansas, many Democrats have already indicated that they would be less likely to vote against Senator Lincoln because of her stance on the public option. If the prior polling on the public is correct (and Halter can frame the healthcare question as one of the "public option"), I would not be surprised to see her approval numbers take a dive due to another candidate (Halter) raising what is shaping up to be the signature issue of the primary (healthcare) and Lincoln's stance on it. Many Democratic voters in Arkansas may be unaware of her stance, and those that are may just need a little persuasion to make them vote on the issue. With the AFL-CIO and blogosphere pumping money into the state for Halter, voters will likely receive information about Lincoln's record on healthcare.

Of course, primaries are odd in nature. We cannot know how a primary electorate will react to a new candidate and his/her arguments, and Arkansas is no Connecticut.

Still, I would not be surprised if the next polling numbers out of Arkansas show Halter closing fast on Lincoln.

 

Comments
Farleftandproud:

Lincoln is far worse than Lieberman because her party has given her full support and even up to now, Obama and the Clinton's will still probably continue to support her, even though she has done nothing to help make the current administration a success.

Lieberman at least, ran as an independent after his party didn't nominate him. He may have a right to be a little pissed. Lincoln is a politician who lacks good leadership skills, loves to take huge funds from big corporations, votes against clean energy, and most of all reluctant to support the Public option in a state where 25 percent of the population is uninsured. What the F.....is wrong with her and those people. All I can say is it is the ultimate brainwashing from tv ads that are programmed to mislead people into thinking any kind of health reform or insurance reform will ration health care, go out of their way to fund abortions and provide death panels. When you don't have a high level of education, it isn't surprising that you find leaders like Lincoln.

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Bigmike:

Farleftandproud

Assuming we are all stupid is a mistake commonly made by the left.

Taking campaign contributions from corporations is wrong but it's OK to take huge sums from MoveOn and unions and trial lawyers? Do you mean only libs should have freedom of speech?

Face it. No one listened to Air America. Given a choice, no one wanted to hear the garbage coming from the left. That is why most of America is not in the same shape as the Peoples Republics of Michigan and California.

As one of "those people" I can tell you we often wonder what is wrong with you guys.

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MancJon:

Bigmike:-

Taking contributions from MoveOn etc at least means that the candidate will do what is best for the people, rather than the corporations, so yes, it is ok.

Peoples Republic of California? Does that mean they have Chairman Arnie(R)?

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Ryan:

MJ-
If you think Arnie is the prototype Repub, wake up. Economically speaking he's far more dem than repub.

Also, doing what MoveOn wants is no better or worse than doing what any corporation wants. In both cases your taking money from, and then doing the will of, a small minority of people when you're supposed to be representing a whole state. Both are bad.

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MancJon:

Ryan: Re: Arnie, of course you are right that he's not a standard R, but I'd dispute the notion he was more D than R.

My point was that at least MoveOn represent the kind of people that generally populate States, i.e. ordinary people, not the wealthy. There are far more people in common with MoveOn types than Big Corporation types. Therefore, taking money from MoveOn is a lot less bad. Don't get me wrong, I am sickened by the state of US politics where you have to have so much money to run. The blame there lies more at the door of Big Corporations than organisations like MoveOn, who have been trying to level the playing field. I agree, the system is broken, though.

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EuroRant:

Bigmike:

On the "stupid" thing ... well, I believe that just stems to some of us having been educated early on: "I did not say that Conservatives are stupid . . . I said that stupid people become Conservatives." -- John Stuart Mill
OK, we're sorry for calling George W. an imbecile for eight years and embarrassing America to the rest of the world.

Taking "huge sums" from MoveOn.org or Unions is not dissimilar than Republicans taking "huge sums" from CPAC and corporations. Perhaps you have a problem with them because they stand on the opposite side from your continuum. MoveOn.org is a PAC and no different than other PACs giving "huge sums" to "favoured" candidates representing their interests.

The opposite of corporations IS unions. Nothing is on the number-one hit list of corporations than the total dissemination of the American worker unions. Unions represent everything opposite of big corporations, namely, the protections and labour-rights of the American worker. YYou position yourself against corporations giving to political parties (specifically Republicans) but are you cognizant that you're in a very tiny minority to that thought-frame of your party?

As someone in the radio "media" biz ... Air America??? Who listened to Air America? They were inane and long past their due-date. Compared to true progressive radio they were milk-toast. I am a massive fan of American progressive radio and I and exPat colleagues here listen most of our day. In the 12 years we've been listening to progressive radio broadcasts we gave Air America about 1 hour of our time - we concur - it was rubbish. Thom Hartmann, Stephanie Miller & co, Rachel Maddow, Bill Press, Young Turks, Randi Rhodes, Ed Schultz are all alive and doing quite well ... I know for a fact that their audiences and listening markets grow each month and even amazingly here in Europe as well.

Now come on ... "you often wonder what is wrong with us guys" ... Really? I'm at an umbrage that you're really going to say something like that after you voted for "Georgie the Imbecile" ... twice ??? Oh -- Sorry yet again -- I mentioned I wouldn't call you ...

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