News / USA

Divisive Election Year Ahead in U.S. Politics

President Barack Obama smiles during an end-of-the year news conference, Dec. 20, 2013.President Barack Obama smiles during an end-of-the year news conference, Dec. 20, 2013.
x
President Barack Obama smiles during an end-of-the year news conference, Dec. 20, 2013.
President Barack Obama smiles during an end-of-the year news conference, Dec. 20, 2013.
2013 was a contentious year in U.S. politics, and public approval ratings for President Barack Obama as well as Democrats and Republicans in Congress were all down at year’s end.  Political analysts say the prospects for 2014 are not much better, especially since both major political parties will be positioning themselves for midterm congressional elections in November. 

At the end of 2013, nobody looked good in public opinion polls.  President Obama’s approval rating had fallen to new lows, in large part because of the troubled launch of his signature health care reform law.

Ratings for Congress and both political parties were also poor.  Democrats were dragged down by the problems with the health care law and Republicans were blamed for an unpopular 16-day government shutdown in October.

2014 is a congressional election year in the United States, and that holds a measure of risk for President Obama, says John Fortier of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.

“Certainly the president is falling into the trap that many second term presidents do.  There is divided government.  He is not as popular.  The midterm election doesn’t usually go so well for the president in office in the second term or the first term.  So I think there are some challenges for the president,” said Fortier.

Obama is hopeful that a bipartisan budget agreement at the end of the year will make 2014 less confrontational.  The agreement came just weeks after a government shutdown that shook public confidence in Washington’s ability to govern.

“This is not what the American people think is acceptable.  They want us to try to solve problems and be practical, even if we can’t get everything done,” said Obama.

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013.House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013.
x
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013.
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner also sounded a conciliatory note in the wake of the budget deal.

“It’s not everything we wanted.  But our job is to find enough common ground to move the ball down the field on behalf of the American people who sent us here to do their work," Boehner said following the budget talks.

The budget deal has some analysts predicting a less confrontational Washington in 2014, as both parties seek to win back the trust of voters in advance of the November elections.

But it’s likely that the president’s health care law, which Republicans like to refer to as Obamacare, will remain a point of contention between the two parties.

The administration is pressing to fix implementation problems with the law - problems that could do political damage to congressional Democrats if they persist close to the November elections.

Stuart Rothenberg is an independent political analyst in Washington.

“The problem is, all these Democrats supported and in most cases voted for Obamacare and so they are stuck with this and to the extent to which the president is weakened, the voters tend to say, I am going to send a message to Barack Obama.  He is not on the ballot in the midterm.  The only way they can do that is to vote against Democrats,” he said.

But Rothenberg is also quick to point out that Republicans remain on the defensive after getting most of the blame for the government shutdown in October.

“The Republican brand is still terrible.  People think the Republicans made a huge mistake shutting down the government and most Republican strategists will tell you they made a huge mistake.”

President Obama’s approval ratings of late have been the lowest of his presidency and low presidential approval ratings often signal trouble for the president’s party in midterm elections.

But Obama remains a potent political force, says analyst Rhodes Cook.

“The president, regardless of what else he does not have going for him, does have the ‘bully pulpit’ of the White House going for him that commands media attention, commands national attention, and basically can say and do things that force the rest of the government to react,” said Cook.

The outcome of the November elections could determine whether Mr. Obama will have a chance to enact his agenda in the final two years of his presidency.  All 435 seats in the House of Representatives will be at stake in the election, along with one third of the 100 seats in the Senate and 36 state governorships.  Republicans currently control the House while Democrats hold a majority in the Senate.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline 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.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

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