LIEBERMAN’S FUTURE…. A whole lot can happen between now and the 2012 elections. But if Joe Lieberman plans to seek re-election, he’s going to have to make some significant changes.

By a narrow 48 – 45 percent margin, voters disapprove of the job Sen. Joseph Lieberman is doing and give him a negative 43 – 49 percent favorability. Republicans approve 75 – 20 percent. Democrats disapprove 70 – 21 percent and independent voters split 48 – 46 percent.

By contrast, State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal gets a 79 – 12 percent approval rating and 71 – 13 percent favorability rating. Republicans approve of the Democrat 66 – 25 percent. Democrats approve 85 – 6 percent and independent voters approve 81 – 10 percent.

If Sen. Lieberman faces Blumenthal in 2012, the Democratic challenger has an early 58 – 30 percent lead. Republicans go with Lieberman 67 – 23 percent while Blumenthal leads 83 – 9 percent among Democrats and 55 – 29 percent among independent voters.

“Sen. Lieberman’s approval is negative, but up slightly. It’s a long time until 2012, but this poll shows that if Connecticut’s popular Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal takes on Lieberman, as the buzz suggests, Lieberman would get crushed,” [Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz] said.

It’ll be interesting to see how (and whether) Lieberman tries to position himself for the future. He won’t be able to run as a Republican in Connecticut without losing. He won’t be able to run as a Democrat; the party won’t have him.

So, he’ll have to run as an independent again, after spending the next three and a half years being very nice to President Obama. And even that might not be enough.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.