Saturday, October 04, 2008
The Bush Legacy?
Both the Washington Post and Politico report on increasing GOP fears of a congressional bloodbath come next week. And no, John McCain is not the cause of the party's problem, but just another symptom. The cause is the increasing economic turmoil, accoriding to Politico:
A poll out Friday shows Sen. Norm Coleman could now easily lose his Minnesota seat to comedian-turned-candidate Al Franken. A Colorado race that initially looked like a nail-biter has now broken decisively for the Democrats. A top official in the McCain camp told us Sen. Elizabeth Dole is virtually certain to lose in conservative North Carolina.Though McCain's recent tactics (strategy?) has contributed to the problem, the Post notes:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has seen his race tighten dangerously close over the past week — and Democrats are considering moving more money into the state very soon. And there is even talk that Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss is beatable in conservative Georgia after backing the economic bailout package opposed by many voters.
“Before the economic crisis, we had a number of races moving our way,” said Matthew Miller, communications director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “But now we’re seeing Republican numbers plummet.” GOP officials largely agree.
GOP operatives said the party's declining fortunes are rooted in a series of events over the past two weeks, including McCain's decision to suspend his campaign in order to help broker a deal on the rescue plan and Republican opposition that doomed the bill in a House vote on Monday. Those incidents helped reinforce voter impressions that Washington is broken and that Republicans bear the brunt of the blame, the party insiders said.
In the most recent Washington Post-ABC News national poll, more than half of all voters said they were "very concerned" that the failure of the first bailout vote would cause a "severe economic decline." By a ratio of 2 to 1, they blamed the legislations' defeat on Republicans.
Neil Newhouse, a partner in the Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies, echoed van Lohuizen's sentiment. "The bailout crisis has had a corrosive effect on the national political environment, and that impacts not just John McCain, but GOP candidates up and down the ticket," he said.
The proximity to the election added to the chaos on Capitol Hill this week as lawmakers sought to pass a $700 billion package to stabilize banks and financial markets. In the House, most vulnerable Republicans opposed the version that failed on Monday, as well as the revamped legislation that passed easily yesterday. But in the Senate, which voted Wednesday, just two vulnerable Republicans, Sens. Elizabeth Dole (N.C.) and Roger Wicker (Miss.), opposed the bill (along with the only Democrat who is seen as endangered, Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu).
Seven Republicans who are being targeted for defeat by Democrats backed the plan: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), and Sens. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Ted Stevens (Alaska); Norm Coleman (Minn.); Gordon Smith (Ore.), Susan CollinsJohn E. Sununu (N.H.). (Maine) and
Some states that have been hit particularly hard economically saw fractures within their delegations. In Michigan, Knollenberg switched his vote from no on Monday to yes on Friday, while Walberg voted no both times. Asked whether he changed his mind out of concern for his reelection, Knollenberg shrugged and responded, "This is politics." But he added that supporting the bailout "is really what's best for the community."
Of course, in an environment like this, Democrats can have it both ways: Their party passes the bailout (er, "rescue" as it is now politically correct to call it), with most Republicans in the House voting against it. But Democratic challengers can either run in support of the bailout or against it, depending on their GOP opponent. Either way, the Republican gets stuck with the "Bush economic legacy" tag and is painted as out of touch.
Not so good times.