Over the last week, there has been much navel gazing about the Lamont-Lieberman race, with some saying that polls showing Lamont behind somehow mean things aren't going well. Obviously, we'd all like the polls to look as good as possible, but if history is any guide, Lamont is in a terrific position to win this thing.
Take a look at this New York Times story from October 13, 1988. It came out at almost exactly the same time in the general election Connecticut Senate campaign as we stand at today:
NY Times October 13, 1988
Weicker Ahead In Polls
During the debate, Mr. Lieberman's staff also circulated a list of the attendance records of all United States Senators that placed Mr. Weicker in the bottom 20 percent for each of the last four years, with attendance records ranging from 91 percent to 86 percent.
Mr. Weicker and his supporters, however, portrayed the issue as desperate rhetoric coming from a candidate who is trailing by 14 percentage points in each of the two most recent statewide polls. "He is coming unglued," said Mr. Weicker's campaign manager, J.S. Malcynsky of New Britain.
Connecticut radio host Colin McEnroe reinforces this very reality on his Hartford Courant blog today, noting that Lieberman is in an ever more precarious position. Put these two things together, and you get two key points.
First and foremost, with every credible poll showing this race within 10 points, we're in an even better position to win than Lieberman was - and that's especially incredible since Ned is a businessman who has spent the last 18 years not as a career politician throwing himself in front of cameras, but instead building his company from scratch. The fact that a career politician like Lieberman could label that "no experience" shows just how out of touch Lieberman is - but the fact that a guy like Ned who hasn't been a career politician is so close to an 18-year political careerist with all the advantages of incumbency shows just how winnable this race really is. Add to this a new poll showing Ned nipping at Lieberman's heels in the traditionally Republican 4th district, and we are really doing well. (FYI - some are laughably portraying this as a bad poll because it is Ned's "home district" - apparently these same people didn't bother to take 5 seconds and check to see that it's a district long held by congressional Republicans, meaning Ned's numbers here are exceptionally strong).
Second, while Lieberman's atrocious record on the war may be widely known, his awful attendance records are only now starting to seep out there in Connecticut. Ned released some brilliant radio ads that have really hit this issue hard, showing that Lieberman has attended California fundraisers rather than show up to vote, showing that Lieberman skipped half of all votes on Iraq, and generally showing that Lieberman has an awful attendance record. As you can see from this recent Register Citizen story, voters are starting to focus in on this issue as because they know it's a big problem when a senator puts his own personal agenda ahead of the constitutional responsibilities taxpayers pay him to fulfill.
Obviously, this race is an uphill climb - but it always has been, from the beginning and even after the primary. I knew that when I campaigned with Ned early on when everyone said he had no chance. And I knew that when I signed up to work for him full-time. But don't think for a second that because it is an uphill climb it is an unacheivable climb. It isn't by a long shot. On the contrary, we're on our way to victory. Believe me, I was already totally exhausted from a 40-city book tour this summer, and therefore I wouldn't be putting in 18 hours a day for Ned if I thought this was some lost cause. It isn't - it's exactly the opposite.
For those like me who have worked on successful challenger races, you know what I'm talking about - you can tell that Lieberman is running scared and that we're in a great position. For those who haven't worked on successful challenger races, I urge you - stay in the fight, and let history remind you of what great shape we're really in. Though we're in the final sprint here, this race is still a marathon, and everyday we get closer to victory.
So let's stop the navel gazing, let's stop the gloom and doom talk from some (though a minority of) quarters, and let's all get to work. Go to Ned's Family Friends and Neighbors site to get involved. Whether you are in Connecticut or not, you can make a huge difference.
(DISCLOSURE: I have long been a volunteer supporter of Ned Lamont's candidacy and written extensively about the race. As of Labor Day, I am officially working with the Lamont for Senate campaign on research. The writing on this blog is my own, and not the official work I do for the Lamont campaign.)