Earlier today, the Instapundit posted this piece noting that he thinks that the Liberal netroots had arrived with Ned Lamont's victory in Connecticut. But I must disagree. Lamont's victory is actually Lieberman's loss--and the two are not the same. Lieberman's loss is a result of his stance on the war on terror, his unwillingness to accept that Connecticut Democrats think differently, and his truly stupid announcement that he would run as an independent if he lost.
While the netroots played a role in the early part of the campaign, I tend to think that most Democratic voters tired of Lieberman's positions on the war and his unwillingness to accept accept that people may have a different outlook. Granted, sometimes being a leader means that you have a different view, but as a leader, you must attempt to persuade others and LEAD them somewhere. Connecticut Democrats did not want to go there and Lieberman, to his credit and dismay, refused to budge on a principle. The war is decidedly unpopular among Democrats, a stance amplified, but not magnified, by the quite vocal netroots. But Connecticut Democrats did not support the war and the netroots did not convince them of it, but rather served as a echo chamber for the idea. So in this regard, the netroots activities did contribute to Lieberman's unpopularity on this issue. Lamont ran a focused campaign on the Iraq war, but a one-dimensional campaign rarely wins a primary, Lamont needed something else.
Lamont got it in the form of a major tactical error. Lieberman's very public notice a coule of weeks ago that he would run as an independent should he lose in the primary gave some fence sitters an excuse to vote against Lieberman. The announcement sounded a lot like a sore loser and a man resigned to his fate.
This was a dumb move!
While Connecticut law allows this and Lieberman is certainly within his rights to take the steps, he should have been far less public about plans to run as an independent. What the plan said was that he, as an elected offcial did not trust the electorate to make a wise decision. This slap in the face probably angered enough voters to vote for Lamont that Lieberman may have lost on this very issue.
My somewhat uneducated guess is that the announcement to run as an independent probably cost him two points, and maybe even the primary itself. The people on the fence about Lieberman now had rason to vote against him. This is very different than a vote for Lamont.
The netroots did raise some money for Lamont, but when you consider that Lamont spent some $3-4 million of his own money on the campaign, the money the netroots brought it amounted to a very small percentage. The netroots did public support Lamont and trounced Lieberman in their coverage, which certainly may have helped opinions nationwide, but I am not sure of the local Democrats. The fact that Lamont only won by four points indicates to me that all the internet publicity for Lamont did not make it down to the voter level in Connecticut, since if you judge by the internet coverage, Lamont should have scored a landslide victory.
The netroots does not have a particularly good record in general elections. Lamont is probably going to win in Connecticut, a solidly Blue state, but with Lieberman in the race, the Democratic vote is likely to be split in the General election.
I think the Lamont win is a combination of factors, with the netroots involved, but not a deciding factor. I still don't see the netroots as a power center, yet. Even assuming they are a power center, I am not sure that it is a good thing for the Democratic party. Moving to the left, which is the place the netroots occupies, is a prescription for disaster rather than victory.