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Club For Growth Poll Spells Trouble For GOP

A new survey commissioned by the Club For Growth forebodes major problems for congressional Republicans at the ballot box unless, the conservative group says, a change is made in the House GOP leadership.

The survey of voters in 20 congressional districts currently held by GOP incumbents shows Republicans
struggling both in generic match-ups against Democrats and on the specific issues of corruption and ethics.  The release of the group's polling comes two days before the GOP conference is scheduled to vote on a new majority leader; the Club For Growth has endorsed Arizona Rep. John Shadegg in the race.

There appears to be little good news in the data for Republicans.  Only 29 percent of the sample said America was on the "right track" at the moment compared to 62 percent who said it had gone off in the "wrong direction." President Bush was viewed favorably by 40 percent and unfavorably by 52 percent -- roughly in keeping with his ratings nationwide in a series of recent polls. Republicans in Congress rated a 35 percent favorable score and a 45 percent unfavorable score -- not much different than congressional Democrats who had a 34/39 favorable-unfavorable score.

The corruption issue appears to be a major problem for Republicans.  Asked what "issue or action" the respondents most associated with the current Republican leadership, "corrupt/dishonest" ranked second behind only Iraq in voters' minds.  And when asked to describe the "level of ethical misconduct in Congress today," 80 percent of those tested said the transgressions were either "serious" (50 percent) or "scandalous" (30 percent).  Only 14 percent described them as "minor."

"Congressional ethics scandals are taking a toll on the perception of Republicans in these swing districts," concludes Jon Lerner, the pollster who conducted the survey.

When asked about Thursday's race for House majority leader, 52 percent of respondents said the "type of person" elected to the post will have an impact on how they view Republicans in Congress. Forty percent said it would have no impact. And, not surprisingly given the other results in the survey, voters choose a generic candidate for majority leader who has not been a part of the House GOP leadership and does not enjoy close ties to the lobbying community (i.e. Shadegg) overwhelmingly over a "Congressman who is Tom DeLay's top assistant" and "has long and close ties to the Washington lobbying community" (Roy Blunt) or a "Congressman who is a former member of House leadership" who enjoys "close ties" to the K Street crowd (John Boehner).

While most national polls have echoed these results regarding voters' views of Republicans in Congress, the Club For Growth survey is particularly telling because of its focus on the districts that Democrats must win if they hope to regain the majority in the fall.

Here are the districts targeted by the survey: One vacant district (California's 50th), five potentially competitive open seats (Arizona's 8th, Colorado's 7th, Iowa's 1st, Minnesota's 6th and Wisconsin's 8th), and 14 seats where GOP incumbents are seeking reelection (Arizona's 1st, Connecticut's 2nd and 4th, Iowa's 2nd, Indiana's 8th and 9th, North Carolina's 11th, New Mexico's 1st, Nevada;s 3rd, New York's 29th, Ohio's 18th, Pennsylvania's 6th and 8th, and Washington's 8th).

The poll was in the field Jan. 28-29, testing 1,000 likely general election voters.  It was conducted by Jon Lerner of Basswood Research. The sample was 38 percent Republican, 38 percent Democrat and 21 percent independents.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 31, 2006; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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