Lieberman's Tactical Mistake

The bottom line: If Lieberman is within 10 points of Lamont -- as yesterday's poll-- it's likely he would have won the primary if he never talked about running as an independent.
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Sen. Joe Lieberman's (D-CT) decision to make contingency plans to run as an independent in the event he lost today's Senate primary may have been the turning point in this campaign. Though no polls asked the question, the decision will almost certainly cost him votes.

I'm told Lieberman campaign manager Sean Smith argued against the move, pitting him against longtime Lieberman advisers who remember how Lowell Weicker resuscitated his political career as an independent after losing his U.S. Senate seat to Lieberman 18 years ago.

However, with voting now taking place, the conventional wisdom holds that if Lieberman loses by more than 10 points, it will be very difficult for him to mount a successful independent campaign. Every national Democrat, from Bill Clinton to Sen. Chris Dodd to each possible 2008 presidential candidate, will be forced to go on the record formally backing Ned Lamont as the rightful winner of the Democratic nomination. Lieberman would lose most of his remaining institutional support.

The bottom line, as one friend recently told me: If Lieberman is within 10 points of Lamont -- as yesterday's poll showed -- it's likely he would have won the primary if he never talked about running as an independent.

Of course, anything is possible in politics and Lieberman might very well win today. But if he doesn't, he'll know exactly what did him in.

Check Political Wire for the latest on this race...

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