A Capitol Hill sex scandal has reinforced public doubts about Republican leadership and pushed Democrats to a huge lead in the race for control of Congress four weeks before Election Day, the latest USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows.
Democrats had a 23-point lead over Republicans in every group of people questioned — likely voters, registered voters and adults — on which party’s House candidate would get their vote. That’s double the lead Republicans had a month before they seized control of Congress in 1994 and the Democrats’ largest advantage among registered voters since 1978.
Nearly three in 10 registered voters said their representative doesn’t deserve re-election — the highest level since 1994. President Bush’s approval rating was 37% in the new poll, down from 44% in a Sept. 15-17 poll. And for the first time since the question was asked in 2002, Democrats did better than Republicans on who would best handle terrorism, 46%-41%.
The plummeting GOP ratings in the poll of 1,007 adults, taken Friday through Sunday, come amid a series of events that have given Democrats ammunition to argue that the country needs a new direction.
Those include increased violence in Iraq; a National Intelligence Estimate that belied upbeat administration talk on Iraq; a new Bob Woodward book about internal White House discord about Iraq, and the Sept. 29 resignation of GOP Rep. Mark Foley. He quit hours after ABC News showed him sexually explicit instant messages he allegedly exchanged with a teenage former page.
I believe the controversies surrounding the ABC movie Pathway to 9/11 and the subsequent FOX News interview with Bill Clinton also played a roll in in the Democrats’ good fortune in opinion polls. But it has certainly been the Foley sex scandal that has moved the electorate so dramatically in the last two weeks. Amid conspiratorial speculation by the GOP on the timing of that revelation and just who was behind it, I’m wondering myself if a Democrat out-Roved the party of Karl “dirty tricks” Rove. Buy that man (or woman) a drink. The Hill, however, contends that the leaker was a GOP staffer.
Andrew Fergusan asks this morning if Democrats have rediscovered the joy of ideas:
Democrats are at last making fun of George Lakoff, a professor of cognitive linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley and, until recently, one of their party’s chief philosophical gurus.
Democrats lost elections listening to Lakoff, just as they’d lost elections before he became their swami. Now the more respectable elements in the party are giving him the heave-ho.
The liberal New Republic magazine trashed his newest book in a brutal review two weeks ago. “If Democrats take the ideas of George Lakoff seriously,” said the reviewer, “they just might succeed” in losing the election.
Lakoff has become a stock figure of fun in the pages of the progressive magazine the American Prospect. His invitations to speak before the Democratic caucus have dried up.
And in their new book “The Plan,” Democratic strategist Bruce Reed and Representative Rahm Emanuel hold up Lakoff as an exemplar of how not to win elections.
“If we believed in conspiracy theories, we’d think that only Karl Rove could dream up the idea of a linguistic professor from Berkeley urging Democrats to `practice reframing every day, on every issue.”’
Instead of reframing, the authors of “The Plan” offer something revolutionary for Democratic activists — an agenda of plausible policy ideas that candidates can run on. These include mandatory public service for Americans under 25, a ceiling on middle-class tax rates, a vast expansion of the U.S. Army and mandatory, portable 401(k)s.
House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi has embraced some of these proposals and added others in a latter-day “Contract with America:” cutting the interest rate on student loans by 50 percent, raising the minimum wage, and — here’s a surprise — raising tax rates on incomes above $250,000.
Whatever the merits of these ideas, they do have the virtue of being ideas and not slogans. And they might disenthrall the party from its obsession with “framing.”
The Lakoff infatuation was a symptom of electoral desperation and philosophical confusion; the Lakoff brush-off shows a party getting serious at last.
Amen to this. In the Democratic circles I’m in, Lakoff is spoken of with reverence and their eyes glaze over whenever I speak of “policies” and “ideas.” In fact, once in a heated discussion with a “progressive,” I was accused of hiding behind policy ideas!
Geoffrey R. Stone lays out what he believes it means to be a liberal and challenges others to do the same…
Niall Ferguson of the LA Times declares centrism is on the rise worldwide…