FauxPolitik

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Query: Lieberman is pushing hard:
Joe Lieberman said Tuesday he is locked in a tight battle for third place in New Hampshire's Democratic presidential primary but doesn't need that strong a finish to declare victory.

"Obviously we're in the running for third," Lieberman told The Associated Press. "We feel we're in the hunt for third now."

Does he know something? The polls are generally showing him behind Edwards by more than the margin of error, and within the margin with Clark. If you believe the polls (and who does?), Lieberman is setting up expectations that could kill him. Talking third and taking fourth (or fifth) is a bad idea. I think one of two things may be afoot:

1) Lieberman's internal polling shows independents and undecideds breaking substantially for him. This is not unlikely. If you're still undecided at this point, you're probably immune to the front-runners' bandwagons. Lieberman may be talking up some small momentum among undecideds in order to leverage larger momentum.

2) He knows he's a dead duck in fourth or fifth, and his only hope is a big surprise in New Hampshire. In other words, he's free to run his mouth, since anything worse than third turns him from a dark horse into a glue-factory special.

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