Hill Democrats’ rat­ings worry party

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Don­ald Lam­bro

Party strate­gists are wor­ried that grow­ing dis­ap­proval of the Demo­cratic ma­jor­ity in Congress will weaken its prospects in next year’s elec­tions while boost­ing Repub­li­cans’ chances of win­ning in com­pet­i­tive bat­tle­ground races.

The Gallup Poll re­ported last week that a sur­vey con­ducted for USA To­day showed that 55 per­cent of Amer­i­cans dis­ap­prove of Democrats in Congress. A Pew Re­search Cen­ter poll re­leased one week ear­lier found that just 33 per­cent of 1,027 Amer­i­cans sur­veyed from July 25 to 29 said they “ap­prove of the Demo­cratic lead­ers of Congress.”

While Demo­cratic Party ad­vis­ers main­tain the po­lit­i­cal base is in good shape for next year’s elec­tions, the warn­ing signs of voter alien­ation pose a dan­ger that can­not be ig­nored.

“Democrats should not be for com­pla­cency in the face of lost trust in Congress and per­cep­tions that the new Congress is not ef­fec­tive or honor­ing its pledges,” Demo­cratic ad­viser James Carville and poll­ster Stan Green­berg said in a strat­egy memo sent to party of­fi­cials and ac­tivists.

Demo­cratic of­fi­cials in the party’s House and Se­nate cam­paign com­mit­tees think much of the dis­sat­is­fac­tion is fu­eled by the party’s fail­ure to leg­is­late a troop-with­drawal dead­line in Iraq.

“Democrats are frus­trated. They want the war to end quicker than it ap­pears it will,” a se­nior party of­fi­cial said on the con­di­tion of anonymity.

Jen­nifer Crider, chief spokes­woman for the Demo­cratic Con­gres­sional Cam­paign Com­mit­tee, ac­knowl­edged that the com­mit­tee has been fol­low­ing the de­clin­ing ap­proval num­bers very closely. “You al­ways mon­i­tor the [polling] num­bers,” she said.

The pre­cip­i­tous rise in the Democrats’ dis­ap­proval has buoyed the spir­its at the Na­tional Repub­li­can Con­gres­sional Com­mit­tee (NRCC).

“Such wide­spread dis­sat­is­fac­tion is cre­at­ing a pal­pa­ble sense of panic among Democrats,” the NRCC wrote in a memo in re­sponse to the CarvilleGreen­berg anal­y­sis.

“As the na­tion draws closer to the pres­i­den­tial pri­maries, Congress’ win­dow of op­por­tu­nity to shine is rapidly clos­ing,” the memo states. “And as the old say­ing goes: The new ma­jor­ity isn’t go­ing to get a sec­ond chance to make a first im­pres­sion.”

It re­ported that an NRCC poll of likely vot­ers in 50 tar­geted House dis­tricts “shows that vot­ers are not only frus­trated with the new ma­jor­ity’s in­abil­ity to get things done, but that vot­ers are not at all loyal to their cur­ren­tDemocrat­mem­beran­darein a fir­ing mood.”

The poll found that “only 35 per­cent of the vot­ers say they will vote to re-elect their cur­rent Demo­crat con­gress­man in th­ese dis­tricts. Half — 50 per­cent — pre­fer some­one new.”

But a Carville-Green­berg poll of 1,451 likely vot­ers con­ducted July 25 to 30 found just the op­po­site was the case.

“In the bat­tle­ground of the 70 most com­pet­i­tive con­gres­sional dis­tricts (35 Demo­cratic and 35 Repub­li­can­held), the Demo­cratic in­cum­bents, in­clud­ing the big class of fresh­men, have quickly moved into dra­matic leads,” they said.

How­ever, in­de­pen­dent elec­tion an­a­lysts say the out­come of the 2008 con­gres­sional races likely will turn on whether there is any progress in Iraq. If the United States re­mains mired in the war by this time next year, “it’s very dif­fi­cult to see how Repub­li­cans can gain ground,” said David Wasser­man, the House elec­tions an­a­lyst at the Cook Po­lit­i­cal Re­port.

As­so­ci­ated Press

Not ex­actly Miss Pop­u­lar­ity: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and fel­low con­gres­sional Democrats are see­ing their ap­proval rat­ings slide more and more with each pass­ing week.

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