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Special Report

Voters Ready for Strong Medicine?

Just when it seemed things could not get any worse for congressional Democrats, things have.

A new set of polls out this morning showed the party in deepening trouble, especially with those most likely to vote. The Washington Post found such voters favor the Republicans by 53 to 40 percent. The Wall Street Journal poll found the same number -- 53 percent -- favoring a Republican Congress to only 35 percent favoring a Democratic one.

These are some of the worst numbers an incumbent party has ever faced this close to a midterm election. But they pose a dilemma for Republicans as well. The standard advice from political consultants will be this: Look, the Democrats are the issue. Keep it that way. Don't do or say or support anything that could make you and your party the issue. Above all, don't come out for some specific plan for cutting spending.

But Republicans should keep in mind that the same polls that show such disaffection with the Democrats show them in bad odor as well. The Wall Street Journal finds only 30 percent approval for Republicans and it finds huge majorities now want candidates who are prepared to cut spending.

Can Republicans really win back the public's favor by saying they are for cutting spending without saying how they will do it?

This may be the year when at last the public is ready for the strong medicine everyone knows is required.