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.

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.