News / USA

Battle Intensifies for Control of US Congress

Democratic candidate for US Senate Richard Blumenthal, left, and Republican candidate for US Senate Linda McMahon debate in Hartford, Conn., 04 Oct 2010
Democratic candidate for US Senate Richard Blumenthal, left, and Republican candidate for US Senate Linda McMahon debate in Hartford, Conn., 04 Oct 2010

Multimedia

Audio

Recent public opinion surveys suggest that Democrats might be narrowing the gap with Republicans in the battle for control of Congress in the November 2 midterm elections.

The latest poll from The Washington Post and ABC News shows Republicans leading Democrats by a margin of 49 to 43 percent among likely voters.  Other surveys show the parties effectively tied.  It was only a month ago that Democrats trailed on that question by 10 points in several surveys, and the improvement suggests that Democrats are having some success in energizing their core supporters to vote in the election.

Presidential pull


The tightening in some polls might be due in part to stepped-up efforts by President Barack Obama to rally his supporters, especially younger people and minorities who turned out in huge numbers to support him in the presidential election two years ago.

"Now is not the time to lose heart," said President Obama.  "Now is not the time to give up.  We do not quit.  And we cannot forget that this nation has been through far worse and we have come out stronger from war to depression to the great struggle for equal rights and civil rights.  We do not quit!"

There are also signs of a Democratic comeback in the area of campaign fundraising.  The Democratic National Committee raised $16 million for their House and Senate candidates in September alone as both major parties get ready for the final four weeks of the campaign.

High stakes

President Obama has a lot at stake in the upcoming elections.  If Democrats lose control of one or both chambers of Congress, Republicans would be able to slow down or block most of the president's legislative agenda during the next two years.

Tom DeFrank is a longtime political analyst who writes for the New York Daily News.

"He has basically said to Democrats, 'If you think things are not to your liking, wait to see what happens if you have a Republican Congress starting in January of next year.'  And I think that has had some effect.  The question is:  Will it have enough effect to keep the House of Representatives from switching from Democratic control to Republican control?  At the moment, I still think the odds favor a Republican takeover in the House."

GOP enthusiasm

Republicans point to other new surveys that show them with a decided advantage in enthusiasm heading into the elections.  A new Gallup poll finds that half of the Republicans surveyed are very enthusiastic about voting, while only one-third of Democrats feel the same way.

For months, public opinion surveys have shown a large percentage of voters eager for change in Washington and ready to take out their frustration on Democrats who hold majorities in both houses of Congress.

California Republican Representative Kevin McCarthy spoke when Republicans unveiled what they call their Pledge to America - a governing agenda that includes cuts in taxes and government spending.  "We are here today to tell you that we have been listening and we have heard you.  We heard you loud and clear."

Tea Party movement

Surveys also show that Republicans are benefiting from the energy created by conservative and libertarian grassroots activists who make up the Tea Party movement, which is committed to reducing the size of government.

John Fortier, a political analyst with the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, said, "We will see that energy benefit Republicans.  It will help candidates who are now running against Democrats.  Some of those elected will be very strongly libertarian and anti-government.  There will be a few cases where the party is pushed too far to the right to win.  But in general, not very many [cases].  In general, I think the atmosphere is greatly improved for Republicans by the Tea Party."

Historical analysis

Historically, the party that controls the White House generally has lost seats in a new president's first midterm election.  Analysts say opposition parties often have an advantage in the midterms because their supporters are more motivated to vote than members of the party in power.

Republican pollster and strategist Ed Goeas says, "There is a basic tendency of the American public, and you have heard me say this before, that it is easier to scream with alarm than point with pride.  And so often, the out-party [i.e., opposition] is always more intense because they are focusing on those things that are scaring them as opposed to those things that people are being prideful of."

Republicans need a gain of 39 seats to retake control of the 435-member House of Representatives and they need to gain 10 seats to win back the majority in the 100-member Senate.  All 435 House seats are at stake this year, along with 37 Senate seats and 37 state governorships.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid