News / USA

Column: Americans Downbeat as Midterm Elections Loom

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (L) (R-TN) waves as his supporters and supporters of his competitor State Rep. Joe Carr looks on, as he campaigns in Dickson, Tennessee Aug. 3, 2014.
U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (L) (R-TN) waves as his supporters and supporters of his competitor State Rep. Joe Carr looks on, as he campaigns in Dickson, Tennessee Aug. 3, 2014.

The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll paints a grim portrait of the U.S. political landscape.
 
President Barack Obama’s approval is down to only 40 percent in the latest survey.  Only 36 percent of those asked approve of his handling of foreign policy.
 
Republicans don’t fare much better.
 
Only 19 percent view them favorably while 54 percent have a negative view.  Congressional Democrats got a favorable rating of 31 percent compared to 46 percent negative.
 
Other numbers in this survey suggest Americans are still suffering what you might call a “hangover” from the recession that ended five years ago.
 
Seventy-one percent of adults in the poll believe the country is on the wrong track, and 76 percent say they are not confident that their children will have a better life than they do, an all-time high for this particular survey.
 
Whichever party can address the long term economic anxieties is likely to have an advantage not only this November, but in the 2016 presidential election as well.
 
U.S. presidential elections present candidates and political parties their best opportunity to present a vision for the future, and the public usually rewards those who are best able to tap into the fears and hopes of American voters.
 
Obama seeks damage control
 
The bleak public outlook reflected in this latest poll comes with less than four months to go until the midterm congressional elections on November 4 and President Obama and his Democratic allies are scrambling to minimize expected losses.
 
The stakes for the president are huge.  Loss of Senate control to Republicans for the final two years of Obama’s tenure would likely prevent him from doing anything substantial to burnish his presidential legacy before he leaves office.
 
And Republican control of both the House and Senate would ensure that political gridlock would remain with us at least through the 2016 presidential elections.
 
So President Obama has plenty of reason to hit the campaign trail for Democrats over the next few months.
 
During a recent speech in Kansas City, Missouri, Obama ramped up his rhetoric against Republicans in Congress in the wake of the latest failure by Congress to do anything substantive to deal with the wave of young immigrants on the U.S. southern border.
 
“Stop just hating all the time,” the president told the partisan crowd.  “I know they’re not happy that I’m president but that’s okay.  I got a couple of years left.  C’mon, then you can be mad at the next president!”
 
Immigration as issue
 
It’s clear that election fever is setting in in Washington and you can expect mostly political wrangling when Congress returns after its summer recess in September.  The recent inability of Congress to do much on the immigration issue is classic election-year politicking.
 
Both sides refused to budge.  Democrats stood firm against Republican attempts to roll back a 2012 program that deferred deportations for many immigrants who had been brought into the country as children, a popular stand with the growing class of Hispanic voters that Democrats look to count on in future presidential elections.
 
Republican congressional leaders heeded conservative wishes to trim back the amount of money the Obama administration wants to deal with the border crisis.  Conservatives want to avoid any moves that could be seen as supporting the president’s immigration policy.
 
Republicans also narrowly passed a bill before recess backed by Tea Party conservatives that would curtail the 2012 program that protects immigrants brought to the country as children.
 
For both parties in the end, politics triumphed over the need to address the crisis on the border.
 
Democrats will continue to try and mobilize Hispanic voters to take part in the November midterms, well aware that they are more likely to turn out in presidential election years.  Republicans also point that most of the key Senate races this year, with the exception of Colorado, are in conservative-leaning states where Hispanic voters are less of a factor that they would be in other states.
 
Midterm battlegrounds
 
Most political analysts believe Republicans will hold or slightly expand their majority in the House of Representatives this year, where all 435 seats are at stake.
 
The real battle is for control of the Senate, where 36 of the 100 seats are being contested and Republicans need to gain six seats currently held by Democrats to claim a bare majority.  Republicans appear to have an excellent chance because nine of the 12 states with the most competitive Senate races are states that Republican Mitt Romney won in 2012.
 
Republicans are already favored to win Democratic seats in South Dakota, Montana and West Virginia, which would get them halfway to their goal assuming Democrats don’t win any seats currently held by Republicans.
 
Democrats are hoping for possible upsets in two Republican-leaning states--Georgia and Kentucky, where Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell faces a credible Democratic challenger in Alison Lundergan Grimes.
 
The most intense Senate battlegrounds this year will be in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, New Hampshire and North Carolina.  All are states with Senate Democratic incumbents facing strong challenges from Republicans.
 
If Republicans can pick off three Democratic incumbents from that list, combined with the other gains they are counting on, they will hold a majority in the Senate come next January, ensuring the two parties will have to either find a way to work together in the final two years of the Obama presidency or resort to gridlock and political paralysis.
 
But a growing number of pundits say that although Republicans are well-positioned to make gains in November, they don’t see the makings of a ‘tidal wave election’ like the one that propelled Republicans to recapture the House in 2010.
 
The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll revealed strong public dismay with both political parties, but also found that independent voters have yet to engage in this year’s elections and may stay home, making a wave election less likely.
 
University of Virginia analyst Larry Sabato put it this way at a recent forum organized by Politico:
 
“This is the best map for Republicans since 1980,” he said. “They should run up a huge margin based on the conditions that ought to be present in a sixth year (of a president’s term) election.  Ain’t happening so far.  It’s just not happening.”
 
Most of the key Senate races remain quite close at the moment and a number of Democrats in so-called Republican ‘Red States’ are proving to be resilient and well-financed.
 
It’s likely that the battle for Senate control is likely to continue right up until Election Day, analysts say.

You May Like

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid