Foley Scandal Not Going Away Any Time Soon

Taking a gander at some of the cable news programs this afternoon, I was struck by the fact that the Mark Foley scandal and discussions about a potential coverup by the Republican leadership in Congress continue to dominate coverage. Brian Ross, who has been leading the coverage from ABC News, continues to unearth new angles to the story, most recently today reporting on three more pages dating back to the class of 1998 coming "forward to reveal what they call 'sexual approaches' over the Internet from" Foley. Denny Hastert's poorly-staged press conference today may have bought him a few more weeks as Speaker, but it did little to divert the attention of either the media or the American people away from the seemingly ever-growing scandal.

Finally, we now have data on Americans' feelings towards the scandal and by and large the numbers augur poorly for the Republicans. When asked by Rasmussen Reports if the Republican leadership just learned of Foley's problems or if they had been protecting him for years, by close to a 3 to 1 margin voters chose the latter. Time, which found President Bush's approval rating to be a mere 36 percent in its survey released today, reported that two-thirds of those aware of the scandal believed there was a coverup by Republican leaders. Time also found that the Democrats hold a 15-point generic congressional ballot lead among registered voters -- the same margin found in an AP-Ipsos poll (.pdf) out today. Pew, which has substantial data from both immediately before and immediately after Foley's resignation, found that the scandal had not yet dramatically affected the sentiments of voters. Nevertheless, Pew found President Bush's approval rating to be 37 percent and the Democrats' generic congressional ballot lead to be 13 points.

As voters have more time to digest this story, it's difficult to imagine that these already terrible numbers for Republicans will get any better. And given that this story will not likely leave our television screens or newspapers any time soon, it's fairly safe to say that the GOP is in for a rough few weeks between now and election day.

Tags: Mark Foley, polling, Republicans (all tags)

Comments

16 Comments

Re: Foley Scandal Not Going Away Any Time Soon

Anybody have a poll from Hastert's district?  That could be an unforeseen pickup opportunity.  It only went 55% for Bush in 2004 and 54% in 2000.

by Tom 2006-10-05 04:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Foley Scandal Not Going Away Any Time Soon

Stick a fork in them...

The Republicans are DONE!!!!!!!! Nancy Pelosi will become the FIRST WOMAN SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE!!!

Has any party ever come back from this kind of deficit with less than a month until the election to win it???

by JackBourassa 2006-10-05 04:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Foley Scandal Not Going Away Any Time Soon

I would be a lot more positive if it were mid to late October.  But in the age of 24-hour cable news, things change so fast.  The media will most likely focus on an entirely new topic by the end of next week.  Will the momentum remain.  It's still uncertain.  

If it were 1994, everything would be set in stone.  That just isn't the case anymore.  

by Eric11 2006-10-05 04:54PM | 0 recs
Stunning numbers

As you've pointed out many times, Democrats have never held leads this large, this close to the election. If these numbers persist, the Democrats could pick up 50 seats.

by elrod 2006-10-05 04:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Foley Scandal Not Going Away Any Time Soon

Any guesses how many seats Dems will actually pick up???

My guess: 50 to 60.

by JackBourassa 2006-10-05 04:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Foley Scandal Not Going Away Any Time Soon

You really think that many?  Not trying to be negative (although I sure sound it!), but in the golden age of gerrymandered districting, I just don't think it's possible.  

The Republicans got 50 seats in 1994 because they completely took over the South.  It was the final nail in a coffin they had been building for three decades.  We just don't have a comparable geographical advantage anywhere.  We should pick up a few seats in New England, but nothing compared to what the Republicans did in Dixie.  

by Eric11 2006-10-05 04:59PM | 0 recs
Not really

Yes, the Republicans picked up a lot of seats in the South in 1994. But they also picked up tons of seats in "blue states" like Washington. 1994 was a national wave, not just a Southern one.

In the Senate, the Republicans picked off Democratic seats in: AZ, ME, MI, OH, OK, TN, PA - only Tennessee and Oklahoma were Southern Senate pickups in 1994. Note that OH, TN and PA are prime Democratic pickup chances this time, with AZ on the margins. In the House, the biggest GOP pickup was Washington, with 5 pickups. Of the states with pickups between 3 and 4 were: OH, IN, CA, TX, NC and GA. So, in the House there was significantly more movement in the South than in the Senate. But the overall picture was of a national wave that swept every single state, from New York to Texas, and Washington to Georgia.

The building Democratic wave is targeting Indiana as much as it is Pennsylvania. But it is PA, OH, CT, IN and CO that are most vulnerable for the GOP. Republicans are also vulnerable in NY (upstate), IL, IA and KY. This is a Midwestern wave, not so much a Northeastern wave.

by elrod 2006-10-05 06:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Foley Scandal Not Going Away Any Time Soon

Denny Hastert's poorly-staged press conference today  was everything we could have hoped for. His desperate craving for power is like Gollum clinging  to Precioousss.  A quick resignation would have bought the Republicans time to bury some of the skeletons in the closet and change the news cycle. A long drawn out process that reveals the truth which forces him to resign a few weeks before the election is the best outcome.

Alongside accountability is the issue of trust.  Would you trust the Republican Party to oversee your son or daughter in Washington? Do you trust Republicans with your future (Social Security and Medicare)? Do you trust Republicans to protect you if a natural disaster strikes?

No. No. No.

And I certainly don't trust Republicans with my freedom.

by FishOutofWater 2006-10-05 04:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Foley Scandal Not Going Away Any Time Soon

Foley provides a perfect metaphor for the modern Republican party. The man put in charge of children's safety preyed on children.

He is the visceral symbol people can relate to. Before, too many were able to believe in WMD, Saddam attacked us on 9/11, Clear skies, no child left behind.

Foley has become the mirror to help them understand that the words are meaningless; the actions belay the words.

His stunning fall from grace reveals all the other corruption and evil in a way our words could never do.

Just call him Judas.

by zic 2006-10-05 05:01PM | 0 recs
Foleygate is the House GOP's Katrina

It's swamping them the same way Katrina finally made everybody realize what a loser Bush was.

And best of all, nobody has had to die in Foleygate.

It's the perfect storm. :)

by RT 2006-10-05 05:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Foley Scandal Not Going Away Any Time Soon

I really hate to see the projections like 50 to 60. The people who make them can be applauded for enthusiasm but are wildly uninformed. Some the seats on that swap list to get to 50 would literally be several hundred to one odds against, if evaluated individually.

As someone else posted, the geography doesn't match '94 at all. I started evaluating politics closely in '96 and when I looked back at '94 I expected to see a flood of abnormal results. But it was nothing like that at all. I looked at dozens of districts where I wondered how the Democrats had maintained control for so long, based on the partisan index of the district. Frankly, my conclusion was the GOP had been lazy and ineffective for more than a decade in allowing those seats to remain in our hands.

Anyway, I sampled the PEW survey and they are always a treat. The party ID edge is our highest of the year at 34-27. Iraq leads as the most important factor at 44% putting it first or second. But I'll point out the economy is second there at 41% combined. I still don't think we are emphasizing it enough, particularly when Bush and Hastert are handing us these quotes about how great the economy is. Their "base" may feel that way but average Americans do not. That is witnessed by every Strategic Vision poll including the most recent ones, where Bush's approval number on the economy remains well below that of Iraq or the overall approval number. While we allow the GOP to fight and feud over this Foley issue, why not run some positive spots in that regard, emphasizing economic emphaisis and a raise in the miniumum wage should voters put Democrats in charge? I'm still concerned our poll margins may be great but turnout among key demographics may not match that. Check out the PEW summary. It emphasizes that women have turned against Iraq more than men. But I see nothing in our campaigns designed to yank women to the polls, based on the traditional issues they prioritize, particularly young single women.

The PEW poll findings were what I expected, that the Foley scandal has not impacted the voting percentage. The sample was over a two-week period with almost identical numbers of surveys before and after the Foley news, yet the margin remains the same, at +13. That is awesome and we realistically can't expect it to be higher. I think this story, while not as devastating as the Woodward book in terms of what they are hiding and denying, probably is more difficult to defend and recover from, since it is easily understood by the masses. I heard Scarborough say tonight that if he were on the campaign trail he would much rather be defending Iraq than the Foley situation.

So think of the Foley issue as more defense than offense. It won't raise our advantage but it does prevent the GOP from easily changing the subject and therefore potentially gaining late momentum.

by jagakid 2006-10-05 05:55PM | 0 recs
Well...

The thing about "tidal wave" election years, as they're called, is that you can throw out all the partisan numbers and local issues.  That was what happened in 1994.  It wasn't just the South in 1994; that was a large part of it, but Republicans won seats in 1994 that they never win.  The GOP won IL-05, which is one of the most Democratic districts in the country (67% for Kerry in 2004, in a form not terribly different from how it was in 1994.)

I know the districts have been heavily gerrymandered, but many of the "safe" districts were ones that Bush carried with only about 55% of the vote.  In a national environment that's very unfriendly to Republicans, we can win seats like that, especially if we can convince voters that their Congressman is part of the problem in Washington.

Charlie Cook's PVI's from some of the Republican seats implicated in the scandal:

IL-14 (Hastert): R+5
NY-26 (Reynolds): R+3
FL-16 (Foley): R+2
OH-08 (Boehner): R+12

Only Boehner's seat looks like what I would consider a "safe" seat.

Even then, seats with a decided GOP edge can be vulnerable.  Montana is a state that voted 59% for Bush in '04, but we're already writing in Jon Tester as its next Senator.

The point?  Don't assume that gerrymandering will save the GOP in the face of a national tidal wave.

by Tom 2006-10-05 06:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Well...

Excellent points. As I mentioned above, 1994 affected the whole country, not just the South. The GOP picked up five seats in Washington State! And they kicked ass in OH, PA and even CA and NY.  

Also, it isn't exactly like politicians didn't understand the science of gerrymandering in 1994. Sure, we have better technology now, but they were hardly in the dark ages 12 years ago. In fact, one reason the wave hit so hard was that districts gerrymandered in the Democrats' favor turned against us: 51% Democratic districts suddenly turned in 46% what with the low Democratic turnout and high Republican turnout that year. A little nudge can go a long way. But in normal elections, the gerrymandered races stay put.

by elrod 2006-10-05 06:43PM | 0 recs
Look at the Catholic Church Scandal for a parellel

It was in the headlines from 2001 -2003 and still flares up as new evidenc of coverups emerge every so often.

This scandal goes deep and will not end anytime soon.  I'd guarantee that there are are many more shoes to drop.  

by northcountry 2006-10-05 09:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Foley Scandal Not Going Away Any Time Soon

I find it funny how Brian Ross, whose ABC story on how torture supposedly works was touted last week by all the right-wing blowhards as proof that we need to be able to torture detainees, has suddenly become the left's best chance at retaking the majority. From hero of the right to hero of the left in one week. You can't get more "fair and balanced" than that. </snark>

by kovie 2006-10-05 11:35PM | 0 recs
by estebban 2006-12-27 12:16AM | 0 recs

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