New Poll From TIME: Scandal Hurting GOP genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Three in a row

Some say the third times a charm, but when it comes to the three most recent polls following the disclosure of damaging communications between Congressman Mark Foley and an underage page, the latest TIME poll suggests the opposite for the GOP. The latest in a barrage of polling to determine the impact of the Foley scandal suggests that voters are paying close attention to the unfolding scandal...and at the moment the details are putting the Republican Party at risk for losing the House and possibly the Senate. TIME has the full article here.

Two-thirds of Americans aware of the congressional-page sex scandal believe Republican leaders tried to cover it up — and one quarter of them say the affair makes them less likely to vote for G.O.P. candidates in their districts come November. Those are among the findings of a new TIME poll conducted this week among 1,002 randomly-selected voting-age Americans.

The poll suggests the Foley affair may have dented Republican hopes of retaining control of Congress in November. Among the registered voters who were polled, 54% said they would be more likely to vote for the Democratic candidate for Congress, compared with 39% who favored the Republican. That margin may be fueled by the rolling scandal over sexually explicit e-mails sent to teenage pages by Republican Representative Mark Foley. Almost 80% of respondents were aware of the scandal, and only 16% approve of the Republicans' handling of it. Those polled were divided, however, on whether House Speaker Dennis Hastert should resign over his handling of the Foley affair, with 39% saying he should resign and 38% saying he should not.

President Bush's overall approval rating, according to TIME's poll, now stands at just 36%, down from 38% in August.

What is now clear in the aftermath of the Foley scandal is that voters are quick to understand these types of issues and to form opinions. Unlike more complex issues such as whether to withdraw troops from Iraq, voters appear to have made up their minds on this topic...and the bottom line is that they don't think the GOP took the appropriate measures to insure the safety of children whom parents have entrusted to their congressional leaders.

I view two numbers as significant in this new data. One, the generic congressional ballot shows that Democrats are favored by 54% of the voters as opposed to the 39% support for Republicans. Second, the decline in the Bush approval rating from 38% to 36% may reflect a turning point. The generic ballot numbers are another indication that the recent trend suggesting that that gap was narrowing now seems to have been interrupted. The same is true for the President's approval rating. The drop in the President's approval, while within the margin of error, is consistent with minor decreases seen in other polls and may be the end of the recent Bush bump...a bump that seemed to result from the efforts of the GOP to refocus the campaign debate on national security and the war on terror.

The midterm is still over a month away and there is plenty of time for these numbers to change. The Party that can dictate the debate between now and November is likely to see more success.

Daniel DiRito | October 6, 2006 | 8:42 AM
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1 On October 8, 2006 at 8:32 AM, Lemming Herder wrote —

Newsweek's numbers are slightly different, but still show the trend.

Posted by the Lemming Herder from Don’t Be A Lemming!

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