GOP Polls: Foley/Hastert Matters; Musgrave Struggling

According to Fox News:

“The data suggests Americans have bailed on the speaker,” a Republican source [regarding internal GOP polling] briefed on the polling data told FOX News. “And the difference could be between a 20-seat loss and 50-seat loss.”

The concern about Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert flows from his failure to take sufficient action upon learning of resigned Republican Congressman Mark Foley’s inappropriate behavior towards underaged male pages working in Congress.  This could be decisive for Colorado Democratic candidates Angie Paccione in the 4th Congressional District and Jay Fawcett in the 5th Congressional District, both of whom are in Congressional races that are in play, but nationally are considered long shots.

Meanwhile another internal Republican poll released by Marilyn Musgrave showed Musgrave with support from only 43% of those polled, a poor showing for an incumbent member of Congress.As previously noted at Colorado Confidential, the National Journal considers the 7th Congressional race the second most likely race to to change partisan control in the 2006 election in November.

The 4th Congressional District race in Colorado between Paccione and Republican Marilyn Musgrave is rated 39th most likely to change hands, while the open 5th Congressional District race in Colorado between Fawcett and Republican Doug Lamborn is rated 50th. 

Thus, the difference between a 20 seat pickup and a 50 seat pickup, as suggested by the GOP’s internal polls, would likely be enough to sweep both Paccione and Fawcett into office, leaving Colorado with 6 Democrats and 1 Republican (Tom Tancredo) in its delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives.  A major swing in national mood also improves the chances of Tancredo’s challenger Bill Winter.

A poll commissioned by Fawcett’s campaign showed him leading 41-28.  This result has been greeted with skepticism nationally because the District traditionally has been a heavily Republican leaning district, but no independent polls of the race or internal GOP polls concerning the 5th Congressional District race in Colorado have been released publicly.

A Survey USA/KUSA poll released September 21, showed Musgrave leading in the race by a 46-42 margin, with Reform candidate Eric Eidness picking up 5% of the vote.  An internal poll released by Paccione’s campaign on September 29, showed the race tied 42-42-5. 

After Paccione released her poll showing the race tied, Marilyn Musgrave has released her own internal poll showing her leading Paccione 43-36, with 8% support Reform candidate Eric Eidness and 13% undecided.  According to the Fort Collins Coloradoan:

Musgrave’s poll, done Sept. 26-27, was conducted by Conquest Communications Group in Virginia and included 400 likely district voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Both the Paccione internal poll, and the Musgrave internal poll, are within the margin of error of the independent Survey USA poll, and the Survey USA poll is within the margins of error of both the Paccione and Musgrave polls.

Regardless of whose poll you pick, support from less than 50% of the electorate for an incumbent member of Congress is considered a sign of serious weakness, because few people are undecided about incumbent candidates, while many people need time to learn about a new challenger.  Conventional wisdom has it that undecided poll respondents tend to swing for challengers in the ballot box.

Thus, when Musgrave’s own poll shows only 43% of voters planning on voting for her, and 13% undecided, she appears to be a candidate in trouble.

As a self-described “moral values” candidate, Musgrave may be particularly vulnerable to the Foley/Hastert scandal which may discourage voters who care about sexual morality from supporting a Republican. 

Doug Lamborn has also tried to define himself as a “moral values” candidate making another candidate’s alleged support for gay rights an issue in his Republican primary campaign, a tactic that earned him scorn from outgoing incumbent Republican Congressman Joel Hefley.

Hat Tip to Daily Kos diarist JustWinBaby.

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