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

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend 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.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

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