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Scooter Libby Felony Conviction Fallout

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I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's conviction of four felony counts of lying under oath and obstruction of justice on Tuesday marked the highest-ranking White House official to be convicted in a federal investigation since the Reagan Iran-Contra scandal. Libby will likely appeal the verdict and he remains out of prison until sentencing is imposed; however, several political questions are raised in the meantime.

First, will this conviction have an impact on President Bush's image and agenda in the near future? Bush's national job approval rating is already at near record lows—33 percent in a recent USA Today / Gallup Poll, 31 percent in the last Newsweek poll, and 29 percent in the last CBS News / New York Times poll (all polls taken within the last week). Bush's approval rating in the Upper Midwest is likewise in the low- to mid-30s: 34 percent in Wisconsin, 34 percent in Iowa, and 35 percent in Minnesota (SurveyUSA). Bush has not gained any ground on his political opponents nor any cache with the public since the November 2006 Democratic mini-landslide at the ballot box, and the Libby conviction will not help him in those regards.

Secondly, in light of Libby's felony conviction, how much additional pressure will now be put on the White House—by Congressional Democrats or the public at large—for the President to make a complete statement as to how CIA agent Valerie Plame's name became known to the media in the Summer of 2003? (i.e. "What did he know and when did he know it?"). A November 2005 poll by KCCI-TV found 52 percent of Iowans believed individuals in the Bush administration acted criminally in the leaking of the CIA agent. To date, no one has been charged in the leak itself—Libby was charged for lying to federal authorities during the investigation of the leak.

Thirdly, the million-dollar question is whether or not President Bush will eventually pardon Scooter Libby. While President Clinton did receive some criticism inside the beltway for pardoning criminals at the 11th hour of his administration, nearly all of those pardons involved people out of the public eye. A pardon of a high-ranking administration official like Libby would likely provide the Democrats with even more anti-Bush fodder when running for Congress and the Presidency in 2008.

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Remains of the Data

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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