Wednesday, October 04, 2006

On The Brink

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats lead in races for 11 of 15 crucial Republican-held U.S. House seats a month before Nov. 7 elections, putting them within reach of seizing control of the chamber, according to Reuters/Zogby polls released Wednesday.

Republican incumbents are at particularly high risk, the polls found, with seven of nine trailing their Democratic challengers in the high-stakes battle for control of the U.S. Congress.

Democrats must pick up 15 seats to reclaim control of the House, and the polls found Republicans were also behind in four of six open seat races in districts they won in 2004.

"This is a dismal showing for Republicans," pollster John Zogby said. "Republicans ought to be very, very nervous."

The polls, taken Sept. 25 to Oct. 2 in 15 of the most competitive House districts across the country, overlapped by three days the sex scandal involving Florida Rep. Mark Foley's explicit Internet messages to teenage male congressional pages.

The scandal and questions about how their leaders handled it have mushroomed into a political crisis for Republicans, who worried it could demoralize the party's core supporters, particularly social and religious conservatives.
The news gets even better. Of the eleven races the Dems take, nine of them are by margins of more than five percent (and remember, some of this was done before the Foley scandal broke fully), and at least five are by double digits, meaning the race is all but over already.

Add to that now, Tom Reynolds seat is in play AND so is Christopher Shays, a moderate Republican from Connecticut who has been the recipient of an awful lot of Mark Foley's slush fund (what spilled over the brim from his ample fund of contributions made from his backers), and you have what amounts to the tip of the iceberg. We won't fully see the embroilment of this scandal for another couple of days in terms of how it affects the polls.

Conventional wisdom has it that Hastert will ahve to fall on his sword and at least resign the Speaker's position, if not his seat, which might put even his seat in play.

Times are going to be interesting in what should shape up to be an amazing race.