President Bush’s approval ratings are plummeting across the board, with the latest Newsweek poll dropping 3 points to a pathetic 33 percent. Meanwhile, the Democrat’s generic advantage in the race for control of Congress has climbed to a three-month high, with Dems now preferred on every major issue, including the war on terror. And of course the House Page scandal continues to spin out of control, with new revelations about Foley’s follies and the multi-year coverup coming out daily.
If you don’t think national events are having an impact on local races, then you’re spending too much time talking to Diane Tebelius. The last three public polls in WA’s 8th Congressional District (all conducted before the Foley scandal broke) have shown a dead heat between incumbent Republican Dave Reichert and Democratic challenger Darcy Burner, while the Reichert campaign remains suspiciously silent about its own internal polling. In light of this and the larger political climate, the respected Cook Political Report has just upgraded the race from “Lean Republican” to “Toss Up.”
Meanwhile, the WA-05 race between incumbent Republican Cathy McMorris and Democratic challenger Peter Goldmark is starting to turn some heads. On Friday the campaign released its own poll showing the race within the margin of error, while again, the McMorris campaign remained quiet about its own internal numbers. I’ve talked to a number of Democratic and Republican politicos over the past few days, and the unanimous consensus is that Goldmark is closing… and fast. The combination of a dynamic candidate, an effective advertising campaign, a solid ground game — and of course, a favorable political climate — is setting the stage for what could be one of the biggest upsets of the season.
What we’re seeing is a Republican Party in the midst of meltdown, and the impact is being felt in local districts nationwide. Yesterday, the Spokesman-Review endorsed Democrat Larry Grant in Idaho’s 1st CD, and while their stated reasons were varied, the final sentence stands out as a warning beacon of a potential political sea change:
Not only will Grant be in a good position to help Idaho if the Democrats regain the House, but he would work better with Republicans than Sali would if they don’t.
This is a rationale that will pop up in editorials nationwide. Absentee ballots start dropping a week from Tuesday, and barring some kind of October Surprise (or massive election fraud) a Democratic takeover of at least one house seems almost certain. While I don’t expect the S-R editorial board to apply the same logic to their home district, some voters will, recognizing that a populist pragmatist like Goldmark can better represent their interests in a Democratic majority than a socially conservative McMorris can in a Republican minority. We’ve reached a tipping point.
That said, Goldmark is still the underdog; he can’t win unless he can afford to get his message out… and he can’t afford to get his message out without your help. Friday I challenged my readers to take my Act Blue page past the $7,000 mark for Goldmark by the end of the weekend, and right now we’re still about $700 short. We’ve got a unique opportunity to put a Democrat in the 5th CD seat — the kind of Democrat that can hold the seat for years to come. So if you haven’t already given, please give now.