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

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community 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.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid