New Poll Shows Democrats Fail to Make Gains Off Scandal

Ouch!… This wasn’t supposed to happen.

Despite the convictions last week of Republican* lobbyist Jack Abramoff, democrats did not see a surge of excited backers according to a new poll.

A new USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll of Americans is not producing numbers the democrats were expecting. Despite Howard Dean declaring the Abramoff Scandal as a Republican-only scandal (despite evidence otherwise. sheesh!) Americans tend to view the scandal as a “Congressional scandal” with both parties taking it on the chin so far:

Enthusiasm for Democrats is only slightly higher than for Republicans. A plurality predict both parties will be hurt equally by the inquiry into disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. And Democrats’ hopes of scoring big gains have been tempered by redistricting after the 2000 Census that made many House districts less competitive.

“I wouldn’t foresee the tidal wave of ’94 repeating itself — the system’s incumbents are entrenched enough to avoid that,” says Dennis Thompson, a political scientist at Harvard University who studies ethics issues. “But I think there could be a shift of control of one of the houses, possibly. Before this corruption scandal arose, that was less likely.”

Amy Walter, who tracks House races for the non-partisan Cook Political Report, calls it “a pessimistic electorate.”

“If voters are looking for change then it’s Republicans who have more to worry about, since they are the party in power,” Walter says.

But she notes that Republicans also can “drive the train on legislation” to tighten rules on lobbyists and in the process distance themselves from the Abramoff scandal. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., promised on Sunday to “move forward aggressively and quickly” on a reform package.

This is better news than was expected for Republicans.

The poll does show several promising numbers for Republicans:

Less democrats are excited about going to the polls in November.

Republicans are more excited 47 more-32 less (20 same) for the ’06 elections.
Democrats are more excited 48 more-44 less (4 same) for the ’06 elections.

Iraq and Terrorism still lead the concerns of Americans. (85 and 80% say it is very important).

Government surveillance of U.S. citizens ranked below taxes and social security for concerns of Americans. This could especially hurt democrats as they continue to grill judicial nominee Alito this week and continue to reinforce the public view of themselves as weak on national security. .

And, interesting enough, Americans were more concerned about corruption in government back in October than they are today.

Only 22% of Americans see their particular Congressman or woman as corrupt. This is below the numbers back in the fall of 1994.

* Mr. Abramoff’s party affiliation was pounded out by the MSM last week despite his association with democratic candidates as well as Republican candidates.

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