Lieberman Losing Ground in Connecticut Dem Primary

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:31pm EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Connecticut Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman is losing ground to his challenger, Ned Lamont, ahead of the party's Aug. 8 primary, according to various public opinion polls. But Lieberman still receives high marks from Connecticut voters and, according to several polls, would win the general election regardless of his party affiliation.

Lamont, a small-business owner, is challenging Lieberman for the Senate nomination, because he believes Connecticut's three-term senator is too conservative. Lamont said he will "challenge the Bush administration" and focuses on his strong stance against the war in Iraq.

Lamont's previous political experience is limited to local office, but he enjoys support from many in the national anti-war movement, like MoveOn.org and liberal blogger Markos "Daily Kos" Moulitsas, because of his support for a "redeployment" of the U.S. service members currently stationed in Iraq.

A June 12 Rasmussen Report poll found that Lamont has 40 percent support in the Democratic primary - up from 31 percent in the previous Rasmussen poll. The latest poll shows Lieberman with 46 percent of the vote, placing the difference within the 7-point margin of error.

A Quinnipiac poll from June 8 showed a similar surge for Lamont, who earned 40 percent support. Fifty-five percent of likely Democratic primary voters said they supported Lieberman.

But while Lamont is quickly gaining ground against Lieberman in the primary, both polls found Lieberman with a comfortable lead in the general election, even if he were to run as an independent.

The Quinnipiac poll found that if Lieberman loses the Democratic primary and runs in the general election as an independent, he would defeat Republican challenger Alan Schlesigner and Lamont with 56 percent of the vote.

The Hartford Courant on Monday reported that Lieberman will stay in the Democratic primary race but that he hasn't ruled out running as an independent if Lamont scores an upset.

"If the unexpected happened, do I want to keep open the option of taking my case as an independent Democrat to all the voters of Connecticut so that they can have the last word in November?" Lieberman told the Courant, "That's an unanswered question."

Liz Dupont-Diehl, a spokeswoman for Lamont's campaign, told Cybercast News Service that the general election poll numbers still heavily favor Lieberman because Lamont has been focusing on winning the primary.

She said Lamont's rise in the primary polls is "a sign that people want change in Washington and that Ned is very credible, very viable, and a very successful candidate." Dupont-Diehl added that the campaign is "confident that the general election voters in Connecticut will have the same view."

A spokeswoman for Lieberman's re-election campaign did not return calls requesting comment Monday.

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