Poll: Hastert Will Kill GOP in November
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.”