News / USA

Obama Tries to Rally Democrats for November Elections

President Barack Obama (file photo)
President Barack Obama (file photo)

In a little more than three months, U.S. voters will go to the polls in congressional midterm elections that could have a major impact on President Barack Obama's political agenda.  Opposition Republicans are energized by this year's elections and by predictions by political experts that they could gain enough seats to regain control of one or both houses of Congress.  Democrats seem less enthusiastic about the elections.

It is shaping up to be a tough year to be a Democrat.  President Obama's public opinion ratings continue to slide, and most political experts are predicting significant Republican gains in November in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Many liberal Democrats are also frustrated that their party's majorities in both houses of Congress have not done more to fully implement the Obama agenda.

Liberals attending the recent Netroots Nation convention in Las Vegas complained that moderate and conservative Democrats in Congress have forced too many compromises on issues like health care and climate change, and have acted as a kind of political brake on the president's ambitious agenda for change.

Democratic Senator Al Franken of Minnesota acknowledged the frustrations during a speech to the Netroots convention.

"But I agree we have not won nearly enough, and I know that progressives are frustrated - not just because we have not gotten as far as we thought we would, but because it sometimes feels like not everybody in our party is pushing forward at the same pace," said Al Franken. "We have a lot of Democratic votes in Congress, and that is a good thing.  But we do not have enough progressive votes to pass the agenda that you and I want."

President Obama addressed the group in a videotaped message.  Although he acknowledged liberal frustrations, he urged the activists to work hard to re-elect Democrats in November.

"Still, change has not come fast enough for too many Americans," said President Obama. "I know that.  It has not come fast enough for me either.  And I know it has not come fast enough for many of you who fought so hard during the election."

In addition to the political climate, Democrats are also fighting history this year.  The party that controls the White House usually loses seats during a new president's first midterm election, especially in the 435-member House of Representatives, which faces elections every two years.

Senators are elected to six-year terms and about one-third of the Senate is up for re-election every two years.  This year 36 Senate seats are at stake.

Political analysts say a major factor boosting Republican prospects this year is growing concern over government spending and involvement in the economy, which has helped to spark the grassroots conservative and libertarian movement known as the Tea Party.

Michael Barone is a political expert with the American Enterprise Institute here in Washington:

"The rejection of this vast expansion of the size and scope of government by the Obama administration and the Democratic congressional leadership, I think that is the central issue of this campaign cycle," said Michael Barone.

Democrats won control of both houses of Congress in the 2006 midterm elections and they expanded their majorities when Mr. Obama won the White House in 2008.

But the political pendulum appears to be swinging back in favor of the Republicans, says presidential expert Bruce Buchanan of the University of Texas.

"On balance, the dynamic looks to be very much anti-incumbent," said Bruce Buchanan. "Most of the predictions that one gets from the specialists in this area suggest that there will be losses for the Democrats in both houses, significant losses possibly."

In addition to shoring up his base among Democratic voters, President Obama appears to be facing a growing challenge in keeping the support of independent voters who were a big part of his election victory two years ago.

Quinnipiac University pollster Peter Brown says some key voter groups seem to be down on the president this year.

"Males, independents and white voters are all groups that backed President Obama by larger numbers in the election of 2008 than traditionally Democrats have done among those groups," said Peter Brown. "Now in all three groups, he is getting anywhere in the high 30 percent level.  That is a pretty substantial drop off - almost 30 percent - and that is really politically where it could be problematic for the president."

Many Democrats are aware of their political vulnerability this year and are doing all they can to urge Democrats to vote in November to counter what is expected to be a strong Republican turnout.

Arizona Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva also spoke to liberal activists at the Netroots Nation convention.

"A midterm defeat will be devastating, and we will be giving back the reins of power in government to the same interests that got us into the mess we are in," said Raul Grijalva.

Republicans have vowed to make significant changes if they win control of one or both houses of Congress.  The Republicans need to gain 39 House seats to retake control of that chamber; they need to pickup 10 seats to regain a majority of the Senate.    

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact 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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs