Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Lamont Wins

In the US, the rate of incumbents being returned to office is pretty astronomical, so the fact that 3 incumbents lost primaries last night is huge. And the most significant by far is Lieberman's loss to newcomer Ned Lamont, which serves as an enormous boon to the grassroots and netroots progressive movements and bodes well for November. Yes, the Democrat tent needs to be big enough to support both those who initially supported the war and those who didn't, but it doesn't need to be big enough to support those who think it's going just fine today. Lieberman is delusional, he is blindly supportive of Bush, and he has gone so far as to warn that any criticism of Bush and the war is dangerous. Obviously, he had to go. Hopefully now he'll change his mind about running independent.

But it's interesting to see right-wingers try to spin this as good news for them, that 'the loony left' are taking over the party again. And this spin gets under some people's skin. Check out the comment thread in the Stranger when the decision was announced and you can see that people like commenter Fnarf buy heavily into this line. And I'm convinced that the only danger for Dems is precisely people like Fnarf believing this spin, which subsequently makes us seem fractured. You can see how this discussion unfolded in the thread linked above.

Anyway, it's refreshing to see one conservative admitting that the Lamont win is very bad for the GOP:
Well, someone has to be gloomy about this, so it might as well be me: I don't think that Lamont's win bodes well for the GOP in November. In fact, I think it's very bad news indeed. Yes, yes, Connecticut may not be typical of the nation, and, yes, yes, voters enthusiastic enough to vote in a primary may not be representative of the electorate as a whole, but add in some of the other results from last night, and Lamont's win adds yet more weight to the idea that "throw the bums out" is going to be an important factor this fall. As the National Journal asked last night, "when was the last time in a non-redistricting midterm that 3+ incumbent members of Congress have lost in primaries?" Clue: Newt Gingrich knows the answer.

Then there's the fact that the Lamont win makes it even more likely that the November vote will be a referendum on (a) a president whose ratings are, well, choose your grim adjective and (b) a war for which public support has ebbed substantially.

There are plenty of ways that the topic of debate could shift in a more favorable direction (for the Republicans) between now and November, but it's difficult to use last night's result as evidence for that case.

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