The Democrats’ strategy for November is to emphasize corporate scandals, and so far it clearly is working. Check out the latest polls at Real Clear Politics. The Republicans had pulled ahead in the generic Congressional preference polls, but not the results are consistently favoring the Democrats. This makes a certain kind of sense, I guess, in that there are probably people who vaguely feel that at times when business needs to be unleashed, Republicans are best, and at times when business needs to be restrained, Democrats are best. My own view is that the decline of the stock market is a much bigger issue than the scandals. Americans have shown themselves highly resistant to scandal; the difference this time is that people are losing money. Of course, the market decline has affected virtually all companies, not just the handful that have been accused of accounting irregularites or other wrongdoing. If it is clear by November that the market has bottomed out and is on its way back up, I think this issue will lose most of its sting. After all, everyone knows that stock prices depend on corporate profits, and it is hard to see the Democrats doing much to increase profits. One oddity of the generic preference polls is how volatile they are. You wouldn’t expect this; generic Congressional preference would seem to be a measure of party loyalty that would change slowly over generations. But in fact, it swings around pretty rapidly in response to headlines. On the other hand, it is not clear how these swings will affect individual races, which is all that counts. For example, can Paul Wellstone really tag Norm Coleman with the corporate corruption issue? How? And is there a single voter, worried about his 401(k), who will be persuaded that Paul Wellstone will do anything to enhance the value of his investments? Beats me. It’s a long way to November.
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