MORE ON DEMS IN '06. I agree with Ezra that donor cash is an unfixed variable dependent on the enthusiasm of the base. That's certainly true for online donors who contribute small sums. The problem though is that small donors haven't played a large role in the Connecticut primary and still probably won't in the general election. Lamont has been a self-funded candidate, and Lieberman for the most part has relied on funding from large donors and PACs. And this is what I'm talking about: the corporate PACs, special interests PACs, individual PACs, unions, and the town, county, and state parties that form the bedrock of a campaign donor base, on top of which sit the dynamic small donors. For the most part, these institutions set out at the beginning of the year with a fixed budget, saying they'll spend such-and-such amount on the contested races in Connecticut. They dish out a token amount to begin with, and then wait and see where things become heated. With a three-way contested Senate race, when the congressional candidates turn to these institutional funders for one last infusion of cash in final last days of a campaign, there very well may not be anything left.
The situation for these congressional campaigns became more dire when Lamont broke the millionaire's amendment (he had to do what he to do), thus enabling Lieberman to suck up even more of the funding pool. It's clear that the congressional candidates are taking this matter seriously. Rosa DeLauro and John Larson didn�t campaign so heavily for Lieberman out of the kindness of their hearts. Both are steadfast liberals whose views are probably more closely aligned with Lamont�s than with Lieberman�s. But their interests lie in getting more Democrats elected to the House, as is evident in this Hotline item:
A 7/15 meeting of the Greater Hartford Dem town cmte chairs at Rep. John Larson's (D-01) "political office" was focused on the fact "that if Lieberman loses the primary he will hurt all other" Dem candidates if he runs as an indie 11/06. "The message was clear: help him now or your favorites suffer in" 11/06.
And in this Roll Call piece:
But there also is chatter that more pragmatic motives may be giving Out of Iraq Democrats pause about wading into the race: Connecticut, with three competitive, Republican-held House seats, could determine partisan control of the House in November. And Lieberman, who enjoys the vociferous backing of Connecticut�s two influential Democratic House Members � Rosa DeLauro and John Larson � is considered a stronger top of the ballot candidate for the party than Lamont.
Separately, the notion that having an energized base, excited about the top-of-the-ticket race, works to the advantage of the down-ticket candidates didn�t work so well in 2004. Connecticut had about as mobilized a Democratic voting base as you could imagine that year. New registration records were set and turnout was the highest it had been in several decades. Kerry won by large margins in the second and fourth districts, and by a smaller margin in the fifth, and yet all three districts still voted to re-elect their Republican representatives.
This primary just sends the wrong message to voters. Three months out from Election Day, it gives the impression that Democrats are more concerned with an intra-party squabble than with taking on Republicans. And a 52-48 split in the electorate will be misinterpreted in the media to mean that the Democratic electorate is divided between moderates and liberals. My feeling is that the Lamont primary challenge was, strategically, bad for the party to begin with, and that the Lieberman independent bid is even worse for the party now.