Poll: Hastert Will Kill GOP in November

An unspecified internal Republican poll says the party will get wiped out in November if Dennis Hastert remains Speaker.

House Republican candidates will suffer massive losses if House Speaker Dennis Hastert remains speaker until Election Day, according to internal polling data from a prominent GOP pollster, FOX News has learned. “The data suggests Americans have bailed on the speaker,” a Republican source briefed on the polling data told FOX News. “And the difference could be between a 20-seat loss and 50-seat loss.”

Most GOP lawmakers have stood by Hastert, pending a full airing of the facts in his handling of the Mark Foley affair, in which the former Florida representative was caught exchanging salacious messages with teen pages in Congress. The new polling data, however, suggests that many voters already have made up their minds.

The GOP source told FOX News that the internal data had not been widely shared among Republican leaders, but as awareness of it spreads calculations about Hastert’s tenure may change. The source described the pollster who did the survey as “authoritative,” and said once the numbers are presented, it “could change the focus” on whether the speaker remains in power.

While internal GOP polls show trouble for Republicans, the newest AP/Ipsos poll also showed that half of likely voters say the Foley scandal will be “very or extremely important” when it comes time to vote on Nov. 7. By nearly a 2-1 ratio, voters say Democrats are better at combating corruption.

Given their record while in office, that’s almost certainly not true. It’s not unreasonable for the public to believe otherwise, though, given the spate of scandals under the watch of the current Leadership.

It may be too late for wholesale changes to matter at this point but it’s worth doing in its own right. The Republicans in Congress need better leadership regardless of whether they retain the Majority or have to spend the next two spots earning a chance to regain it.

It’s one of the strange ironies of American politics, and perhaps democracy period, that big screw-ups are often given a pass by the voters because they are just too complicated to resonate while relatively minor scandals can incite mass outrage because of their simplicity. The GOP doesn’t deserve to lose power over the Foley mess but it may wind up being the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

A couple of weeks ago, I still thought it likely that the Republicans would retain slim majorities, for institutional and mathematical reasons I’ve laid out many times. I’m still not sure they won’t hold on but George Will is right: “If, after the Foley episode — a maraschino cherry atop the Democrats’ delectable sundae of Republican miseries — the Democrats cannot gain 13 seats, they should go into another line of work.”

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2006, Public Opinion Polls, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. spencer says:

    If I were a republican I would want the electorate to focus on a sex scandal rather then the fact that we are losing the war on terror or that we are entering a recession.

  2. AST says:

    I just heard Ken Mehlman on Hugh Hewitt’s radio program say that this is bogus. He’s seen all of their internal polls and saw no slippage in any race in the country.

    Who did the AP poll, their staff? The Nastional Press Club?

    George Will is a jerk. He has never liked Bush or anybody in his administration, and he opposes the war in Iraq. I think he’s really rooting for the Democrats to win, because of overspending, not because of this scandal. I think that fairminded people will realize over time, that Republicans, when the truth comes out, leave offenders to their fate, while Democrats circle the wagons and hang onto power no matter what.

  3. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Go visit the Drudge report. Seems that there is the possiblity that this was part of a prank by the page in question, who kept the IM’s to share with other politico’s of his age. If so, this puts a different light on things. Not that Foley is innocent of anything, but there are donkey prints around.

  4. Mark says:

    Republicans, when the truth comes out, leave offenders to their fate, while Democrats circle the wagons and hang onto power no matter what.

    Do you think this is true in recent history? Someone like me, who has only been following politics for less than a decade, sees the exact opposite.

  5. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Mark, all those who were culpable that were members of the Republican party are not in office, or are not intending to run again inspite of the presumed innocents of the accused. They found $90k in Congressman Jeffersons freezer directly linkable to a bribe, and he still holds his seat. He is a democrat, of course. McKinney hits a cop, Kennedy drives under the influence, how many times, his uncle committed vehicular manslaughter and he is still holding his Senate seat. If you have been following politics, you must be only following what is written by the DNC.

  6. Derrick says:

    So you live in a world where Ken Mehlman, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CHAIR, is some unbiased observer willing to lay out the facts straight. Riiiiiiggggghtt! If you think that this scandal won’t hurt Republicans, you obviously haven’t been paying attention.

    And I doubt that non-Kool Aid drinkers feel that Foley is the only one culpapble at this point. People obviously knew something about Foley’s prediliction for young boys, and moderate Republicans and independents are going to punish the party for it. And bringing up McKinney, who didn’t win her primary, and the Kennedy’s, of course they are the ONLY drunk driver running for Congress this cycle, ain’t going to help.

  7. Tano says:

    Donkey prints, Zelsdorf?

    Even if the Drudge story is true, we would have a Republican staffer pulling a prank on a Republican Congressman. And you see “donkey prints”?

  8. stevesh says:

    From John MacIntyre at RCP Blog:

    “The internal GOP polling that FOX News reported earlier today that Republicans were looking at massive losses if Speaker Hastert stayed on board was probably a leak designed to pressure Hastert to step aside, but that doesn’t necessarily make that report worthless.”

    Jed Babbin says fight the “527 Media” and act like Reagan. Or even Patton, IMHO.

  9. Anderson says:

    If, after the Foley episode — a maraschino cherry atop the Democrats’ delectable sundae of Republican miseries — the Democrats cannot gain 13 seats, they should go into another line of work.

    Once again, raising expectations so that even Dem gains will be a “failure” if they don’t retake the House.

    Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory is, of course, a Democratic specialty, honed by their practice of rehiring the same people who lost the last n elections ….

  10. >George Will is a jerk.

    Is he a foo-foo doody pants too?

    >He has never liked Bush or anybody in his
    >administration,

    He’s failed to show proper reverence for the glorious leader! Burn him at the stake!

    >and he opposes the war in Iraq.

    Of course, this just means he was four years smarter than me.

    >I think he’s really rooting for the Democrats
    >to win, because of overspending, not because of
    >this scandal

    Wait, I thought he was rooting for Democrats to win because he’s a jerk.

  11. Bandit says:

    “the fact that we are losing the war on terror or that we are entering a recession. ”

    You should look up the meaning of ‘fact’ before expressing your ignorant opinions.