News / USA

Obama Tries to Rally Democrats for November Elections

President Barack Obama (file photo)
President Barack Obama (file photo)
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid