Voters Will Focus On Cover-Up And Corruption Next Month
“The mood among conservative voters in America reminds me of the atmosphere among British Conservatives in 1997 shortly before Tony Blair became prime minister. The level of incompetence and mismanagement by the Republican leadership has been so bad it would take an act of God to regain their momentum.”
--GOP message master and strategist Frank Luntz
In the first major poll taken entirely after the Foley resignation and cover-up became apparent, an AP/Ipsos poll reports that congressional scandal and corruption will significantly affect their vote next month. The large sample poll taken Monday through Wednesday of this week, including over 700 likely voters, shows that congressional scandal and corruption, instead of the war on terror, will weigh heavily on the minds of likely voters.
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.
More troubling for Republicans, the poll found that by a margin of nearly 2-to-1 likely voters says Democrats would be better at combating 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.
Approval of Bush's handling of the war in Iraq was at 37 percent among likely voters, down slightly from 41 percent last month. Bush's rating on handling foreign policy and terrorism also fell slightly, from 47 percent last month to 43 percent this month.
Down slightly? A four-point in a month amongst likely voters a month before the election, when your approval rating falls back under 40% again is anything but slight.
Note that Bush is losing ground on is ratings on Iraq and the war on terror at a time when Rove planned to link the two and run on them and taxes the rest of the way. As the Times notes this morning, Bush’s megaphone has been squashed by recent developments, and he and his strategists are resigned to the fact that they cannot alter the way this is playing out. In other words, this has neutered the Rove plan for the fall, and the Foley circular firing squad amongst Republicans has now allowed Democrats to spend a few weeks hammering their economic message, where the AP/Ipsos poll says Democrats have a 13-point edge over the GOP this fall. After yesterday’s Zogby poll results, which show that the Democrats are poised to take back the House, Zogby reports today that the Democrats are poised to take at least three Senate seats next month (Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Montana), and are tied in Tennessee and Ohio. But Zogby’s poll was concluded before the full effect of the Foley cover-up materialized, and is at odds with other polls showing more Democratic pick-up opportunities.
As I said yesterday, Democrats need to frame the Foley cover-up in a larger narrative calling for Democratic control of Congress so that more time is spent on fighting terror effectively, fixing problems here at home, and making Congress and the White House responsive and accountable to Main Street, rather than Wall Street and maintaining GOP power.