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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

Who Has Won the Most Votes in US Senate Electoral History?

Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

Political Crumbs

Six for Thirteen

Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


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.


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