I don’t mean to trivialize what could turn into the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression by comparing it to an ex-congressman and sexual predator. But for Republicans, the latest financial crisis may play the same role that Mark Foley played in the 2006 elections.
That year, the political climate never favored Republicans. Bush was unpopular, judged harshly for his handling of Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq war. Wage stagnation was starting to convince Americans that the economy was shakier than it appeared and that the country was on the wrong track. Republican congressional incumbents were without an agenda and in many cases mired in scandal. Iraq, Katrina, and overspending joined forces to destroy the GOP’s image as the party best equipped to handle the nation’s defenses and purse. The Democrats were poised to make major gains, maybe even retake Congress.
Yet the Republicans managed a late summer/early fall comeback and seemed to be turning the tide. They might still lose the House but they were at least even to keep the Senate. Then in September, the Mark Foley scandal broke. It was the final nail in the GOP’s coffin and eroded whatever progress the Republicans had made.
John McCain made some progress in an election year that never favored the Republicans. He had some effective anti-Obama ads, a successful convention, and rallied the base with his pick of Sarah Palin. But the other shoe may have dropped, causing the election to revert back to Democratic form. We’ll see.
UPDATE: Jim Geraghty mines a CBS News poll for evidence things aren’t so bad for McCain.