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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

Gender Equality in the US House: A State-by State Quarter-Century Report Card (1989-2014)

A study of 5,325 congressional elections finds the number of female U.S. Representatives has more than tripled over the last 25 years, but the rate at which women are elected to the chamber still varies greatly between the states.

Political Crumbs

Final Four Has Presidential Approval

By edging Michigan in the final seconds Sunday, the University of Kentucky guaranteed that one school in the Final Four this year would be located in a state that was not carried by President Barack Obama in 2012. (Connecticut, Florida, and Wisconsin had previously earned Final Four slots over the weekend). Across the 76 Final Fours since 1939, an average of 3.1 schools have been located in states won by the president's ticket during the previous election cycle. All four schools have come from states won by the president 29 times, with the most recent being the 2009 Final Four featuring Connecticut, Michigan State, North Carolina, and Villanova. On 30 occasions three Final Four schools have been located in states won by the president, with two schools 11 times and only one school six times (the most recent being 2012 with Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, and Ohio State). There has never been a Men's NCAA Division I Final Four in which no schools were located in states carried by the president's ticket.


Three for the Road

A new Rasmussen Poll shows Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in a dead heat with likely 2014 Democratic nominee Mary Burke. Walker is seeking to win his third consecutive election after prevailing in 2012's recall contest. Eight of his predecessors accomplished this feat: Republicans Lucius Fairchild (in 1869), Jeremiah Rusk (1886), Robert La Follette (1904), Emanuel Philipp (1918), John Blaine (1924), Walter Kohler (1954), Warren Knowles (1968), and Tommy Thompson (1994). Three others Badger State governors lost on their third campaign: Democrat George Peck (1894), Progressive Philip La Follette (1938), and Republican Julius Heil (1942). One died in office before having the opportunity to win a third contest (GOPer Walter Goodland in 1947) while another resigned beforehand (Democrat Patrick Lucey in 1977 to become Ambassador to Mexico). Overall Wisconsin gubernatorial incumbents have won 35 of 47 general election contests, or 74.5 percent of the time.


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