Memo to Hastert: They don't believe you

A new poll has 61 percent of Americans saying they think House Republican leaders have been protecting Mark Foley for years.

Published October 5, 2006 9:05PM (EDT)

Think Progress is tracking the effect that the Mark Foley scandal is having beyond the Beltway, and the picture isn't pretty for the GOP.

According to a Rasmussen Reports poll, 61 percent of Americans believe that House Republican leaders have been protecting Foley for "several years." Only 21 percent believe that they learned of his problems only last week. Asked the generic congressional ballot question -- would you prefer to vote for a Democrat or a Republican in November -- 47 percent of Rasmussen's respondents said "Democrat" while only 34 percent said "Republican." That 13-point spread is a big change from August, when Democrats led Republicans by only eight percentage points.

While George W. Bush didn't have much to do with the House page scandal, the wall-to-wall coverage of Foleygate -- coupled with the disclosures in Bob Woodward's "State of Denial" -- seems to have blocked any boost the White House was expecting from its renewed rhetorical focus on terrorism. Following on an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that had Bush's approval rating down three points to 39 percent, new polls from AP-Ipsos and Pew have the president holding fairly steady at 38 and 37 percent, respectively.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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