Joe Lieberman Would Have Lost Anyway

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 18 2011 5:41 PM

Joe Lieberman Would Have Lost Anyway

Cillizza has two sources: Joe Lieberman will not seek a fifth term in the U.S. Senate. We can give the man some time to explain why he's doing this, but let's not lose sight of the obvious: He was going to lose if he ran . One of the last polls on a potential 2012 race, an October 2010 survey by Public Policy Polling, gave Lieberman an abysmal 31 percent approval rating. Twenty-four percent of voters said they'd re-elect him, to 66 percent who said they wanted to vote for someone else. In trial heats, Lieberman came in third in potential three-way contests; he lost by double digits to possible Democratic opponents.

What happened? How did a guy who won a three-way 2006 race with 50 percent of the vote come to this? It's simple: Lieberman turned everybody off and broke a series of promises. If you were a Democrat who supported him, you heard him promise to endorse the party's 2008 presidential candidate, then you watched him endorse John McCain. If you were a Republican who supported him, you heard him say he couldn't vote for the health care bill in December 2009, because of the Medicare buy-in. You might have even waved pro-Lieberman signs, as some people I met at a Tea Party rally in D.C. did at that time. Then you watched him cave once the buy-in came out.

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Blanche Lincoln learned in 2010 that the worst thing a legislator can do is become pivotal on an issue that your constituents oppose. Lieberman did that again and again, typically disappointing liberals, often disappointing conservatives. He became famous as a key swing vote, so there was plenty of ire to throw at him.

That explains why he was unpopular, and why this move is part graceful exit, part hit-the-road-before-they-burn-my-house-down.

Oh, and here's a blast from the past: Pam "Atlas Shrugs" Geller on the scene at Lieberman's 2006 victory party, chatting with Democratic consultant Dan Gerstein.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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