Obviously a variety of factors--ideological, personal, characterological--played into Joe Lieberman's decision to support John McCain over Barack Obama as aggressively as he did last year. But insofar as there was any political calculation involved, he seemed to be angling hard for a cabinet slot (or other post) in a McCain administration that would have enabled him to avoid facing Connecticut voters again in 2012.
A new Quinnipiac poll finding that Lieberman trails Democratic State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal in a hypothetical matchup by a whopping 58 to 30 percent margin suggests that any such calculation was well-founded. The question now is how he responds to his deep unpopularity with Connecticut Democrats, 70 percent of whom disapprove of the job he's doing. Does he trim left to try to earn enough Democratic affection to win again as an Independent? Does he make a clean break with Obama and his party over some matter of conscience (real or invented) and refashion himself as the de facto Republican most Connecticut voters already believe him to be? Does he sit back and quietly hope an Obama failure gives him a shot at another GOP cabinet gig in 2012? Time will tell, but my guess is that Lieberman has traveled too far afield, tempermentally more than ideologically, to make his way fully back into the Democratic fold.