Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Rough Sailing Ahead for GOP

The first batch of major polls released following the Foley scandal and Speaker Hastert’s mismanagement of this mess has hit the street. They are devastating to the Republican outlook for the Congressional elections on November 7—devastating.

Though the Foley scandal is not the biggest issue in the race, at the margin, it is having a very negative impact; one might even call it a tipping point. Metaphorically, it highlights ongoing GOP problems of corruption, ineptness, mismanagement and poor judgment.

Undoubtedly, these new numbers capture a loss of Republican support among security moms and a loss of energy among conservative values voters. Acccording to the Gallup poll, it has put the issue of government corruption right at the top of the list with Iraq and terrorism—exactly where the GOP doesn’t want it.

48 percent of likely voters rate corruption, Iraq, and terrorism as the big three issues. The GOP is losing by 20 points on corruption, 17 on Iraq and, get this, 5 points on terrorism. (That last one is tough to take, but there you have it.)

Among likely voters, Gallup shows a 23-point lead for the generic House vote, 59-36 for the Dems. Only a month ago, it was a 48-48 tie. In addition, by a 43 to 36 percent margin, respondents say Speaker Hastert should resign.

The CBS News poll shows much of the same. By a 62 to 19 margin, respondents think the Republican leadership knew about Mark Foley’s sexually explicit emails—in other words a cover-up. A few days ago a Rasmussen poll showed 61 percent believed the Republican leadership was protecting Foley; here too reflecting a cover up issue.

(Noteworthy: In his press conference today, Denny Hastert actually used the word “cover-up” for the first time. The Speaker said that if the Foley investigations reveal any evidence of a cover-up, staff heads would roll. A little late Mr. Hastert?)

The CBS poll also shows a 46-26 margin of respondents believing Hastert should resign, while the Congressional vote came in 49 to 35, Dems over Republicans.

Another killer here is that CBS shows the Dems as the party holding the higher moral and ethical ground by 37 to 32 percent. By a two to one margin, respondents viewed the GOP as more corrupt. The Washington Post poll showed similar results.

The Foley scandal net is also widening among specific House races beyond Tom Reynolds up in Buffalo. In Westchester County, New York, Sue Kelly may now be in trouble. She was the Republican chairwoman of the House Page Board from 1998-2001, and may have known about Mark Foley’s lewd behavior during her tenure.

The House GOP 2006 contract form the online betting parlor TradeSports remains considerably lower from its September highs. It’s currently holding around 40 percent, down from 58 percent in the pre-Foley period when President Bush’s national security offensive had momentarily boosted Republican chances.

It is interesting to note that despite all this relentlessly negative news for the GOP, the stock market continues to gain ground. The Dow Jones continues plodding ahead, forging new record highs, while the other indexes also continue to rise.

The market is of course my favorite poll of all. It demonstrates that the outlook for the American economy remains solid. It also suggests that American security remains strong to protect the economy.

The market may also be predicting that a Democratic takeover of Congress will produce no negative legislative action on higher taxes, anti-business regulation, or key foreign policy decisions.

The stock market shrugged off North Korea’s bomb test, the U.S. dollar is trading strong on foreign exchanges, and the price of gold is weak. Perhaps the market is telling us that Republicans will get an election comeuppance, but in the long run, the United States is going to be just fine. I guess this reflects my own view.

The economy, stock market, our security, our democracy, our freedom, our optimistic outlook - it’s all part of the greatest story never told.