Foley Scandal Not Going Away Any Time Soon
by Jonathan Singer, Thu Oct 05, 2006 at 04:12:12 PM EDT
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.