[[P O L L S]] * Democrats can’t start popping champagne yet, but they ought to be encouraged by the results of a new AP-Ipsos poll that finds them favored over Republicans in this November’s midterm elections by a wide margin: 49 percent to 36 percent. After a year of GOP scandals, worsening violence in Iraq, and White House inability to either respond quickly to the needs of hurricane victims or score many legislative victories for its religious conservative base, the mood of voters toward Congress and its fractuing Republican leadership has curdled badly. A recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll found that 49 percent of respondents believe most members of Congress are corrupt. And now this AP-Ipsos survey confirms previous findings that suggest U.S. voters are in a “throw the bums out” mood--a situation favoring minority Democrats.
According to AP-Ipsos, only 34 percent of poll respondents approve of Congress’ performance, with nearly twice as many--63 percent--disapproving. George W. Bush’s job approval continues to skitter along at just 40 percent, slightly higher than his record lows of the last few months, but certainly nothing to brag about. Meanwhile, the electorate’s unhappiness is emphasized in details of this survey, with 65 percent of folks saying that the United States is headed in the wrong direction.
Rich Bond, a former Republican National Committee chairman, contends that members of his party have an “acute recognition” of the grim environment facing them come November. But, he avers, “I don’t think anyone is hitting the panic button.” Perhaps not yet, but Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, is already calculating that Democrats can “pick up seats by continuing to hammer at GOP failures and corruption” and “championing a genuine crackdown on [that] corruption,” represented most obviously by the Jack Abramoff bribery scandal. As one Republican corporate lobbyist told Vanden Heuvel, “The arrogance that brought Republicans into power is arrogance that will take them out of power ... ”