It was 54-41 until the internal pressure caused by keeping all that crazy bottled up forced sweet Jane to vent a little.

Now it’s 51-45.

Ever the optimist, Dean Barnett thinks tomorrow night could be a replay of Howard Dean’s flameout in Iowa three years ago, where the party faithful who’d made him the unlikely McGovernite frontrunner got cold feet at the altar.

Ever the pessimist, I think Dean’s kidding himself. (In some ways but not in others.) In fact, there’s a certain Carole King song I keep hearing whenever I see Liebs’s name lately. Sounds like Rich Lowry’s been hearing it too.

With defeat imminent, the spin has begun. Jed Babbin calls the purging of Lieberman a “danse macabre” that practically guarantees a Republican presidency in ’09. Cokie Roberts, coming at it from across the aisle, agrees. So does Marty Peretz, who, fresh from his own purging, goes so far as to apply the scarlet letter “A”:

[T]he contest in Connecticut tomorrow is about two views of the world. Mr. Lamont’s view is that there are very few antagonists whom we cannot mollify or conciliate. Let’s call this process by its correct name: appeasement. The Greenwich entrepreneur might call it “incentivization.” Mr. Lieberman’s view is that there are actually enemies who, intoxicated by millennial delusions, are not open to rational and reciprocal arbitration. Why should they be? After all, they inhabit a universe of inevitability, rather like Nazis and communists, but with a religious overgloss. Such armed doctrines, in Mr. Lieberman’s view, need to be confronted and overwhelmed…

The Lamont ascendancy, if that is what it is, means nothing other than that the left is trying, and in places succeeding, to take back the Democratic Party. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Maxine Waters have stumped for Mr. Lamont. As I say, we have been here before. Ned Lamont is Karl Rove’s dream come true. If he, and others of his stripe, carry the day, the Democratic party will lose the future, and deservedly.

Never mind ’08, says Karol. This just might be the thing that lets us keep control of Congress in November.

They have a point but they’re reaching. If a Lamont victory accomplishes nothing else, it at least proves the left is trending towards the nutroots. And unless you’re Faith Popcorn, it’s very hard to predict how far trends will run before they peter out. Kaus once semi-famously retorted to someone who had called Kos a kingmaker, “Oh yeah? Name the king.” If the polls hold, as of tomorrow night he’ll have his answer. Assume more bad news from Iraq and Iran over the next two years (which is likely) and there’ll be a lot of people willing to seriously consider a party running on a hardcore isolationatist “pro-diplomacy” platform.

Or maybe not, which could be just as bad. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Nixon went off the deep end shortly after crushing McGovern. The old saw about how it’s important to have two nationally viable political parties to keep each other in check used to strike me as fencesitting crap, but not so much anymore. If the Dems go off the cliff and leave the GOP with a stranglehold on power, you’ll be seeing a lot more of the shinola we’ve had to swallow the last couple of years on immigration, spending, wiretapping, etc etc etc.

I can’t leave it on that sour note, so here’s cause for optimism: nutroots fundraising is overblown; the entire state of New Hampshire hates Hillary; and regardless of what happens with Liebs, chances are good we’ll have something to celebrate tomorrow night.

Update: Nice piece by Slate on how Ned “I don’t know anything about the blogs” Lamont scored points off of Internet video. There’s our friend Stephen Colbert, right in the middle of it. He’s the one guy on television who actually is liberal enough to suit the nutroots, which is probably because he parrots every last position they take.

Update: Greg Tinti looks on the bright side:

If Lamont wins tomorrow, there will be much self-congratulation among liberal bloggers. And, to some degree anyway, it will be warranted. But even if one thinks that Lamont owes everything to the netroots, all his win will demonstrate is that liberal bloggers can help you win a Democratic primary in one of the bluest states in the country. The question will then remain as to whether the netroots can help a candidate win a general election or possibly help the candidate lose. And if Lieberman loses tomorrow, we might see the answer to that question play out.

Update: Babbling fool Chris Matthews waxed rhapsodic on his show yesterday about what a vote for the Freshmaker would mean.

Update: Reason enough to pull hard for Lieberman, even if him winning isn’t in our best interests long-term:

If Lamont wins, you’re going to see Kos’ face everywhere, and you will not be able to read about politics for the next five months without seeing him praised as The Man Who Crashed The Gates.

Update: Question and answer period with Dean Barnett:

If Lamont loses, will the nutroots spend the next three months saying they were cheated, hatching conspiracy theories and demanding a recount?

We really don’t have time for such obvious questions.