News / USA

US Congressional Elections Look to Be Referendum on Obama

Public opinion polls suggest Republicans will make gains in November; 40 seats needed to retake control of House of Representatives

President Barack Obama faces a major political test later this year when U.S. voters go to the polls in the November midterm congressional elections.  Public opinion polls and political experts suggest Republicans will make gains in November, and that would have a significant impact on how Mr. Obama is able to govern over the next two years. 

Republicans are confident about their chances of gaining seats in the November elections.  All 435 seats in the House of Representatives will be up for election, as well as more than one-third of the 100 U.S. Senate seats.

Republicans need to gain 40 House seats to retake control of that chamber, which they lost in the 2006 congressional elections.

John Fortier is a political expert at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.  He spoke on VOA's "Encounter" program.

"I think the number of seats Republicans are likely to gain right now looks like 20 or 30, and I do not expect them to take a majority unless something different happens.  But that will still be a very significant win if they do that and it will change Barack Obama's presidency," Fortier said.

Some analysts predict Republicans have a good chance to win the 40 seats they need to win a majority in the House.

A Republican takeover of the House would drastically curtail President Obama's ability to get his agenda through Congress.  Republicans are also likely to gain seats in the Senate this year.  Democrats currently control 59 of the 100 Senate seats, but Republican gains would make it easier for the minority to block or defeat Democratic legislation, another potential setback for the president and his agenda.

At the moment, much of the energy looking ahead to the midterm elections seems to be with Republicans, thanks in part to the grassroots conservative activities of the so-called Tea Party movement.

The Tea Party is not an actual political party, at least not yet.  But it is a loose confederation of conservative and libertarian groups opposed to taxes, deficit spending and government interference in the economy.

Independent voters who generally supported Democratic congressional candidates in the 2006 and 2008 elections now seem to be leaning toward the Republican Party, says David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report.

"And I really think the key to this midterm election is independents, and independent voters, those voters who don't necessarily affiliate with either party, they basically behaved at the polls like Democrats in 2006 and 2008.  And in the public opinion surveys, the data that we are seeing, they are behaving more and more like Republicans lately," Wasserman said.

The party that controls the White House historically loses congressional seats in the first midterm election of a president's term.

Political experts say President Obama and the Democrats are going to have to work harder to make sure their supporters get out and vote in November to match the energy on the Republican side.

The president and Democrats are expected to highlight the recent passage of health care reform in hopes of motivating their supporters, says Tom DeFrank, the Washington bureau chief for the New York Daily News.

"The White House is hoping that now that something has passed and Obama will go into the history books for it, for better or worse, and that the White House can now pivot to the economy.  They understand that Obama's future as a one-term or two-term president rides not really on what people think about health care but whether the economy turns around and I believe you are going to see a huge effort on the part of the White House to increase jobs, reduce unemployment and to get the economy moving again," DeFrank said.

Historically, another key to the midterm elections is the president's approval rating.  President Obama's approval rating in several recent polls has dipped under 50 percent.  That can be a danger sign for Democrats looking ahead to the November elections, says John Fortier.

"I think you see still a very strong base for Barack Obama but not a majority supporting him.  Somewhere in the 40 percent range support the health care plan, somewhere like 48, 49 percent support him as president.  But the energy is a little stronger on the Republican side.  He is not as unpopular as George W. Bush was by any circumstance, but he is not nearly as popular as he was at the beginning of his presidency.  And those numbers at the end of the day are going to be important in those midterm elections," Fortier said.

Democrats hope that signs of encouragement in the U.S. economy will improve their chances to hold their congressional majorities in November.

But another political distraction could come in the form of a Supreme Court confirmation battle in the Senate once President Obama nominates a successor to take the place of retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

You May Like

As US Strikes Syria, China Sees Parallels at Home

Beijing is debating how much support to give international coalition against IS militants and trying to figure out how many Chinese nationals may have joined group overseas More

CDC: Ebola Could Infect 1.4 Million by January

US health officials say if efforts to curb the outbreak are not increased, cases will soar dramatically by early next year More

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in 5 Countries

US Agency for International Development partners with celebrities to call attention to importance of education for girls worldwide 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.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid