New Print Edition: House Ratings & Updates and the Foley Scandal
October 6, 2006 · 3:19 PM EDT
The new October 6, 2006 print edition of the Rothenberg Political Report is on its way to subscribers. You can click here for our latest House rankings, but you must subscribe to the print edition to get the full analysis and explanations.
Foley Fallout: Not So Fast
By Stuart Rothenberg
I know that we sound like a broken record, but now is not the time to open a bottle of champagne (if you are a Democrat) or pull your hair out (if you’re a Republican). A good deal of the instant analysis is based on seat-of-the-pants hysteria, not empirical evidence.
The Mark Foley scandal has evolved into a House Republican crisis, since GOP leaders in the House are now the focus of the dreaded “what did you know, and when did you know it” questions. Speaker Dennis Hastert certainly hasn’t helped himself or his party in dealing with the Foley matter, and the issue certainly poses considerable problems for Republicans.
But we are in the middle of a storm, and neither party now knows how seriously the Foley scandal affects Republican chances in November. Remember, Democrats have been poised for months to make significant gains in both the House and the Senate, and more than a month ago we projected Democratic House gains in excess of what the party needs to win back control for the first time since the 1994 elections.
I certainly do not want to minimize the possible damage to the GOP from the Foley flap. For the next couple of weeks, Democrats will be able to ride the Foley issue as they push their message of change, while Republicans will be back on their heels. If the Foley scandal does anything, it surely drowns out the Republican message and makes it difficult, at the national level, for Republicans to make Democrats the issue.
But we would be strongly inclined to discount a hysterical account on FoxNews.com that cited an allegedly “authoritative” anonymous GOP consultant who said that if Speaker Hastert remains in that office until Election Day, Republicans could lose 50 seats instead of 20.
First, I’m not ready to accept Fox News’s description that the pollster is “authoritative,” “and you shouldn’t either. I can guess who they are referring to, and I wouldn’t use that description.
Second, as one reputable GOP consultant reminded me yesterday, there is no way to project seat losses from a national survey, so the “internal poll” on FoxNews.com should be viewed skeptically…..