Thursday, October 19, 2006




Less than three weeks remain before Americans go to the polls to vote in the mid-term elections, to determine whether it will be the Republicans or the Democrats who control Congress for the remaining two years of the Bush presidency.

Republican senators across the United States are extremely nervous, and anger is growing at Bush Co for their outright refusal to acknowledge that not only might they lose a number of key Republican seats, but absolute control of the Congress as well.

Both President Bush and his key advisor, and "brain", Karl Rove, have been strutting in recent days, claiming "We Will Win" and "We Will Control Congress". Yes, fine, say Republican, but what happens if we lose? "We Won't," Bush and Rove continue, "We Will Win."

And so it goes on and on.

Although Republican senator Mark Foley has rattled his party with a 'sex scandal' involving teenage pages on Capitol Hill, it is Americans' growing frustration and disbelief over Bush Co's handling of the 'War On Iraq' that is set to seem the Republicans punished in the upcoming vote.

Almost three-quarters of all Americans simply do not believe the president when he says that "We Will Win" in Iraq, and less than 70% now back America's involvement in the conflict.

Republican senators fighting to hold onto their seats are pulling away from Bush, and doing everything they can to avoid talking about the 'War On Iraq'.

But it's not working. The pre-vote polling billboards a massive win for the Democrats. So how can Bush and Rove remain so confident? That's one of the biggest mysteries of all, in Washington, and across the US political media and blogosphere.

Everyone is waiting to find out what the last minute "Surprise!" will be that will turn Americans back to supporting Bush Co and the Republicans. It's long been termed the 'October Surprise' as something major seems to often happen in the last weeks of American presidential and mid-term elections.

Although there is a stunning cynicism amongst many Americans about a terrorist attack just before the elections, the most likely event to grab headlines and potentially boost the Republicans' chances will be the announcement that Saddam Hussein has been found guilty of genocide in Iraq and will be executed. This news is expected only two or three days before the November 7 elections.

But will that be enough of an 'October Surprise'?

Hardly, it seems. Americans are finding out already that Saddam will be declared guilty just before they go to the polls, and many Americans, showing more of that incredible cynicism, now think the Saddam trial verdict has been co-ordinated with the US mid-term elections to make Bush look better.

Incredible stuff.

From Reuters :

"This election has become a referendum on Bush and a referendum on his principal policy, which in the minds of voters is Iraq," said pollster Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center.

"It is clear the public is angry with President Bush and therefore with Republicans for a war that has his name on it," he said.

Iraq has been a critical theme on the campaign trail all year, with Republicans frequently on the defensive over Democratic calls for a change of course and charges the Republicans are rubber-stamps for Bush's decisions.

Republican supporters of Bush's argument that Iraq is a central front in the broader war against terrorism now find themselves part of a national minority, according to recent polls.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found 57 percent of registered voters did not believe America's safety from terrorism depended on success in Iraq -- a direct refutation of Bush's argument for staying the course.

The percentage of voters who thought the Iraq war could actually hurt U.S. efforts against terrorism jumped to 46 percent from 32 percent in one month, while 61 percent said Iraq was in the midst of a civil war, the same survey found.

Most of those polls also found the war was the top issue driving voters in the November 7 elections, when Democrats must pick up 15 seats in the House of Representatives and six seats in the Senate to win control of Congress.

Bush renewed his message of economic improvement and his charges Democrats are weak on terrorism during a midweek news conference, but it was soon drowned out by the drumbeat of news on the Foley scandal, Iraq and a North Korea nuclear test.

"I've never seen anything like it," independent pollster Dick Bennett of American Research Group said of the combination of anger and uncertainty among the public. The topic of Iraq dominates focus groups he conducts with voters, he said.

"What people want is some hope for the future. Who will make this better? They aren't hearing much of that," he said. "Aside from gasoline prices, nothing is getting better for Republicans."

Remarkably, even the sudden fall in gas prices is seen by millions of Americans as being another "Republican conspiracy" to con them into a positive vote.

Even comments by key Democrats that the price of fuel is almost impossible to manipulate this way (the oil price being determined by global instability, or stability, OPEC production levels and global demand for the energy resource) hasn't been enough to convince Americans the Republicans aren't up to something dodgy :
....a recent Gallup/USA Today poll found that 42 percent of people actually believe the Bush administration has “deliberately manipulated” the price of gas to effect the election.

"You don't think gas prices matter? Just ask Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter & Ronald Reagan,” say University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato. “They'll all tell you that their victories or defeats depended in part on the cost of gas at the pump."

In fact, there is an uncanny connection between President Bush’s popularity and the price at the pump. As gas prices rise, the president’s approval rating tends to sink.

"You see what appears to be an almost perfect correlation that the president's approval is really driven by gas prices,” says Andy LaPerriere, an analyst with ISI Group.

Rolling Stone Cover Story : 'Time To Go! Inside The Worst Congress Ever'