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Lieberman languishing

Connecticut Democrats sent Sen. Joe Lieberman packing in 2006, but his state’s independents and Republicans gave him a second lease on life. Since then, Lieberman has been a man possessed by his rage, still unable to comprehend what he clearly sees as betrayal by his party.

Suffering from situational amnesia, Lieberman has conveniently forgotten the Democrats who lined up to offer their unqualified institutional support as we grassroots rebels organized around Ned Lamont, and he has certainly forgotten the significant elements of the party that stuck with him in the general election, in opposition to their nominee.

Among their numbers is Barack Obama, who stood against grassroots Connecticut Democrats by offering Lieberman his unqualified support in the primary, even campaigning for him. At a particularly desperate time during the primary, Obama enthused, “I am absolutely certain Connecticut is going to have the good sense to send Joe Lieberman back to the U.S. Senate so he can continue to serve on our behalf.” As Lamont was establishing himself as a voice against Lieberman’s slavish support for the Bush quagmire in Iraq, the famously anti-war Obama swooped in and gave Lieberman cover on the issue.

Even after Lieberman lost the primary, Obama kept his distance from party nominee Lamont. After promising to e-mail his Connecticut supporters on behalf of the Democratic nominee, his campaign e-mailed just 225 supporters on Lamont’s behalf.  While on his book tour in that fall of 2006, Obama had events in New York City and Boston, with an off day in between, yet he couldn’t manage to find time to help out Ned Lamont, the choice of Connecticut Democrats. Right up to Election Day, Obama ran interference for Lieberman.

Of course, Lieberman has repaid Obama’s efforts the way we grassroots rebels knew he would — by continuing to undermine the Democratic Party and by becoming John McCain’s biggest cheerleader. In fact, Lieberman has gone the full-Zell Miller, all but begging to speak at the RNC convention. And while Senate Democrats have thus far refused to endanger control of the Senate by prematurely kicking Lieberman out of their conference and stripping him of committee assignments, it’s clear his days as chairman of the Homeland Security panel are numbered.

Yet one angle to the Lieberman saga is being ignored by most observers — the reaction of his constituents back home to Lieberman’s inconstancy. That’s why Daily Kos commissioned a series of polls by nonpartisan pollster Research 2000 to examine attitudes toward Lieberman in Connecticut. The numbers aren’t pretty.

According to exit polling in 2006, Lieberman defeated the Democratic nominee, Ned Lamont, with 33 percent of the Democratic vote, 54 percent of the independent vote, and 70 percent of the Republican vote.

Today, according to the latest of the Research 2000 polls, taken June 30 to July 2, Lieberman would take only 19 percent of the Democratic vote and 36 percent of the independent vote. Republicans love him — he’d get 74 percent of their vote — but that would still add up to a resounding 36-51 loss to Ned Lamont.

Luckily for Lieberman, no such rematch is in store for this year, or even for the next cycle. He doesn’t face reelection until 2012. But the more he cozies up to the Bush/McCain Republicans, the less his solidly Democratic state appreciates him. With an approval-disapproval rating of 45-43 and falling, Lieberman’s best bet may be to pray for an appointment in an increasingly unlikely McCain administration.

Because neither the Democratic Conference and their all-but-certain increased Senate majorities nor the voters of Connecticut seem to want much to do with him anymore.

Moulitsas is founder and publisher of Daily Kos .