Poll Shows Foley Scandal Damaging To GOP genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Sinking ship

Some might call it the gift that keeps on giving. Scandals that have legs have a history of clearing the media deck such that there is little else that receives attention. At the moment, that reality is a boon for Democrats and fast becoming an issue that the Republican's want to replace with topics that better serve their political objectives. ABC News is reporting on a new Associated Press-Ipsos poll that seems to suggest that the GOP needs to achieve that goal sooner than later.

With midterm elections less than five weeks away, the latest Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that about half of likely voters say recent disclosures of corruption and scandal in Congress will be very or extremely important when they cast their vote next month.

The poll of 1,501 adults, including 741 likely voters, occurred Monday through Wednesday as House Republican leaders came under increasing pressure to explain what they knew of sexually explicit messages from former Rep. Mark Foley of Florida to teenage pages.

More troubling for Republicans, the poll found that by a margin of nearly 2-to-1 likely voters says Democrats would be better at combatting political corruption than Republicans.

The poll also found that President Bush's efforts to depict the war in Iraq as part of a larger campaign against terrorism and to portray Democrats as weak on national security was not altering the political landscape.

Disapproval of Bush's handling of the war in Iraq was at 61 percent among likely voters, a slight uptick from the 58 percent who disapproved last month. A majority of likely voters also disapproved of Bush's handling of the war on terrorism, a conclusion that mirrored past attitudes.

Similarly, recent good news on the economic front from lower gas prices to a rising stock market did not appear to pierce through the public's downbeat view of the economy. Fifty-six percent of likely voters disapproved of Bush's handling of the economy, a slight dip from the 59 percent who held that view last month.

I find the data on the economy significant. Many have felt that the declining gas prices should allow Republicans to tout the economy in the final weeks of the campaign. Unfortunately, I'm of the opinion that a majority of Americans are focused on the housing market, an economic consideration of far greater significance to the average voter's well being. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's statement that the economy is experiencing a "substantial correction" and will see a decline in GDP and that inflation will require close monitoring did little to assist those who sought to focus their election prospects on pocketbook issues.

Daniel DiRito | October 5, 2006 | 10:52 AM
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