Ned Lamont Faces Uphill Battle In Conn. General Senate Election

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The New York Sun

HARTFORD, Conn. — Ned Lamont defeated an 18-year incumbent in last week’s Democratic primary, but a new poll released yesterday shows the Greenwich businessman faces some challenges trying to win over Republicans and unaffiliated voters in the general election.

The Quinnipiac University poll shows Senator Lieberman, who is running as an independent after losing the primary, leading Mr. Mr. Lamont 53% to 41% among likely voters in a three-way race in November. Republican Alan Schlesinger gets 4%.

Though Mr. Lamont has gained ground, the poll found only 23% of registered voters have a favorable opinion of him. Twenty-eight percent have an unfavorable opinion, and 25% are mixed. Meanwhile, 43% view Mr. Lieberman — now running as an independent — favorably.

Twenty-eight percent view Mr. Lieberman unfavorably, and 25% have mixed opinions.

“Mr. Lamont needs to be concerned because he has actually negative favorability right now statewide,” the director of the Quinnipiac poll, Douglas Schwartz said. “He’s popular among Democrats, but he’s not doing well among Republicans and independents.”

Mr. Lamont’s campaign said it has won over all kinds of voters since the primary.

“We have never run our campaign by polls even when we’re ahead, but we’re encouraged by the movement and the opportunity we see here,” the campaign spokeswoman, Liz Dupont-Diehl, said. “Ned will continue to bring his message of change to all Connecticut voters. We have found that it resonates with independents and moderates.”

The poll found Mr. Lieberman leads Mr. Lamont among registered voters as well. Mr. Lieberman would garner 49% compared with Mr. Lamont’s 38%, with Mr. Schlesinger getting 4%.

That’s an improvement for Mr. Lamont, who trailed Mr. Lieberman 51% to 27% in a three-way race in a July 20 Quinnipiac poll. That survey of registered voters showed Mr. Schlesinger with 9%.

Yet Mr. Schwartz said the new poll contains more good news for Mr. Lieberman than Mr. Lamont.

Mr. Lamont “did make some progress. He did gain on Mr. Lieberman, but I think the more important news is that Mr. Lieberman still has a double-digit lead,” Mr. Schwartz said, adding that Mr. Lamont had just come off a month of good news coverage and a stunning primary victory in which he won 52% of the vote to Mr. Lieberman’s 48%.

“There is still time for Mr. Lamont to make this up,” Mr. Schwartz said. “Mr. Lamont has to figure out a way to peel some of those soft supporters away from Mr. Lieberman.”

Mr. Lieberman, a nationally known centrist who has been criticized by many Democrats for supporting the war in Iraq as well as his perceived closeness to President Bush, lost the primary by 10,000 votes. Political pundits say the primary was evidence of voters’ frustration with the war and predict it could have national political ramifications.

Top state and national Democrats, including Senators Kerry, Kennedy, Dodd, Clinton, and Lautenberg, abandoned Mr. Lieberman after the primary and are endorsing Mr. Lamont. A former senator, John Edwards, the 2004 candidate for vice president, was to campaign for Mr. Lamont yesterday.

The new poll showed that while 31% of registered voters are upset with Mr. Lieberman over his support of the war in Iraq and believe he should not be re-elected, only 7% of Republicans and 21% of independents hold that same view.

And despite the ill will that many Democrats have toward Mr. Lieberman, the former vice presidential candidate remains well regarded in some ways by the majority of Connecticut voters. Seventy-six percent of registered voters said Mr. Lieberman has strong leadership qualities, 74% said he is trustworthy and honest, and 63% said he cares about the needs and problems they face.

Forty percent said Mr. Lamont has strong leadership qualities,39% said he is honest and trustworthy, and 41% said he cares about the problems they face.

Asked whether Mr. Lamont has the right kind of experience to be a senator, 33% said yes while 47% said no. Twenty-one percent did not know. That is an improvement for the businessman since the July 20 poll, when only 24% said he had the right kind of experience.

“That’s got to be a concern to Mr. Lamont,” Mr. Schwartz said. “They value Joe Lieberman’s leadership abilities, and they question whether Lamont has the right kind of experience to be senator.”

Mr. Lamont, a multimillionaire, has said his business experience will help him in the Senate because he has created jobs, managed a payroll, and understands how to work with different types of people. Mr. Lamont started a successful cable company, Lamont Digital Systems, with a bank loan in 1984. The firm has wired college campuses across the country.


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