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Jewish World Review / Oct. 21, 1998 / 2 Mar-Cheshvan, 5759

Don Feder

Don Feder In '98 election, keep a critical eye on polls

REGARDING OPINION POLLS, the 1998 congressional elections and impeachment, here's the bottom line: The surveys are deceptive; Republicans will do well; and the election will not be a referendum on impeachment but will facilitate the perjurer's departure.

Most readers never get beyond the first three paragraphs of news stories, wherein they learn that "voters" (meaning registered voters): a) oppose impeachment, b) are disenchanted with Republicans and c) favor Democratic congressional candidates.

Interesting but irrelevant.

In off-year elections, roughly two-thirds of registered voters stay home. Thus, asking them who they support is like asking eunuchs their views on Viagra.

The contest will be decided not by registered voters but by those conscientious citizens pollsters call "likely voters." Survey takers identify them by asking if they voted in the last two or three national elections.

While polls show all voters favoring Democratic candidates by a significant margin, an Oct. 9-12 Gallup poll had Democrats and Republicans in a virtual dead heat among likely voters.

Here's even better news for the GOP.

Of likely voters, 68 percent believe their own congressman (who, statistically, is probably a Republican) deserves to be re-elected, and 58 percent say most congressmen merit another term. Compare this to public sentiment in 1994, when Republicans gained 54 House seats. Then, voters thought the average congressman should be exiled to Siberia.

Even polls of likely voters tell only part of the story. After all, why survey those voters in Barney Frank's district or Henry Hyde's, where the outcome is as certain as the president's sex drive?

The party composition of the next Congress will be decided in the swing districts.

The polling group Market Strategies recently sampled the 20 most hotly contested House races in the country. There, overall, registered voters are evenly split. But among likely voters, Republicans have a commanding lead (45 percent to 38 percent, with 16 percent undecided).

In seats with Republican incumbents, the GOP is ahead 46 percent to 39 percent. In open seats, the party does better -- 50 percent to 36 percent. Democratic incumbents have a razor-thin lead, 39 percent to 38 percent. This could translate into GOP gains of 10 to 12 House seats nationwide.

The swing-district reality is reflected in competitive Senate races. In a recent Los Angeles Times poll on the California race, incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer led Republican Matt Fong 47 percent to 39 percent with registered voters. Likely voters put Fong ahead 48 percent to 43 percent.

Republicans look to pick up Democratic Senate seats in California, Illinois, Ohio and Kentucky -- while losing only Indiana. Of six additional seats considered "in play," Democrats now hold five.

So, Republicans gain four Senate seats where they're looking good and lose one. If they take three of the five Democratic seats in play (GOP candidates are coming on strong in Washington state, South Carolina and South Dakota), they will increase their majority from 55 to 61 in the Senate next year -- six votes shy of the magic number to impeach.

As loudly as he bangs the drum for what he calls Social Security reform and beats his breast over funds to hire 100,000 teachers, Bill Clinton would need a truck load of amphetamines to energize his constituency this year.

"Sally forth and do battle for women's rights," he commands the soccer moms. And, in so doing, help insulate a chronic womanizer from the consequences of his criminal acts. Bit of cognitive dissonance.

Even the issues are breaking for Republicans. In the swing-districts survey, Republicans have a 23-point advantage among likely voters who cite morals and values as one of their top two issues. Those who consider Social Security reform crucial give Democrats only a 4-point lead.

Unfortunately, GOP gains will not be an indication that the republic is ready for impeachment. Like wayward presidents, incumbent congressmen benefit from good times. Republican voters are eager to punish a man they believe is getting away with bloody murder. Democrats can't muster nearly as much zeal for the defense.

Majority support for impeachment probably won't come until after the Judiciary Committee hearings and possibly not until the House passes a bill of impeachment.

Still, likely voters will make impeachment more likely. Which is as it should be. In a democracy, those who care enough to vote count for more than those who merely could.


10/19/98: Clinton could yet be 'prosperity president'
10/16/98: Working families -- Dems love 'em (stuffed)
10/09/98: Majoring in 'weirdness'
10/07/98: Friends of Billy Clinton
9/29/98: Letter from ex-soldier highlights defense peril
9/28/98: Answering arguments against impeachment
9/18/98: The nation that doesn't exist
9/14/98: Bubba isn't the only one who should be ashamed
9/11/98: Resolution of Clinton crisis will define national character
9/09/98: We're still just wild about Harry
9/07/98: Mexican banditry didn't end with Pancho Villa
9/02/98: Clinton forgives us!
8/31/98: Ashcroft's plain talking touches responsive chord
8/26/98: Public opinion be damned
8/24/98: Why liberals condone Clinton's lies
8/20/98: Time to move on -- to impeachment
8/12/98: With Bubba in the sexual privacy zone
8/10/98: The truth won't set Clinton free
8/06/98: Truth about Hiroshima is incontrovertible
8/04/98: Clinton not the first hollow president
7/30/98: "Small Soldiers" -- a fractured Vietnam allegory
7/27/98: Crime wave hits hometown
7/22/98: Love in an Internet fishbowl
7/20/98: Ads bring ex-gay movement out of closet
7/15/98: Brian and Amy -- the children of Roe
7/13/98: Why are we scared of obnoxious 'activists?'
7/6/98: Fonda still resists reality
7/1/98: New York blesses domestic partnerships
6/29/98: Teddy and Calvin stood for virtue
6/24/98: Will Clinton betray Taiwan?
6/22/98: Big tobacco? What about big casinos?
6/15/98: Religion -- God for what ails you
6/10/98: Planning Clinton's China itinery
6/8/98: Republicans' Custer offers advice
6/4/98: Oh, Dems Christian-bashers!
6/2/98: Goldwater did conservatives more harm than good
5/27/98: A Clinton-hater confesses
5/15/98: Giuliani's assault on marriage
5/13/98: Hillary knows what's best for everyone
5/11/98: To honor her would not be honorable
5/6/98: Conservative chasm: pragmatism vs. worship of marketplace
5/4/98: Anglo-saxon me
4/29/98: Needle exchange programs are assisted-suicide
4/27/98: Chretien's mission of mercy to Fidel
4/22/98: School-choice is a religious freedom issue
4/20/98: Corporate execs deliver body parts to Beijing
4/14/98: National sales tax --- looks better all the time
4/13/98: The U.N. sinister? Hey, where did that idea come from?
4/8/98: Unions fight workers rights in 226 campaign
3/30/98: Africa's leaders should apologize
3/25/98: GOP shouldn't look to media for advice
3/22/98: You should care about Clinton's 'private life'
3/19/98: Color-coded reading, product of obsessive minds
3/16/98: Amendment will end exile of G-d from our public lives
3/9/98: Havana will break your heart
3/2/98: Vouchers Terrify Teachers' Union
2/25/98: Presidential politics starts at a resort hotel
2/23/98: Hillary's support comes at a price
2/18/98: How many times must we say "no" to gay rights?
2/16/98: Enoch Powell spoke the truth on immigration
2/11/98: Bubba behaving badly
2/9/98: A conservative dissent on the flag-burning amendment
2/5/98: We get the leaders we deserve
2/2/98: Send a signal that could penetrate boardroom doors
1/27/98: State of the president: hollow rhetoric
1/25/98: For Monica's playmate, we have no one to blame but ourselves
1/22/98: At Yale, bet on yarmulke over gown
1/19/98: Commission tackles America's fastest-growing addiction, gambling
1/15/98: Capital punishment and the hard case: no exceptions for Karla Faye Tucker
1/12/98: Partial-birth abortion and the GOP's future: the "big tent" meets truth in advertising
1/8/98: IOLTA: the Left's latest scam to crawl into our pockets
1/5/98: Connect the dots to create a terrorist state
1/1/98: The Unacceptables of 1997: Long may they rave
12/28/97: Hypocrisy is a liberal survival mechanism
12/23/97: Chanukah is no laughing matter
12/22/97: No merry Christmas for persecuted Christians around the world
12/18/97: Bosnia, Haiti, and how not to conduct a foreign policy

©1998, Boston Herald; distributed by Creators Syndicate, Inc.