Republicans Looking Ahead to 2010

President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress appear to be making progress on health care reform, and the chances of opposition Republicans blocking a reform bill now seem to be fading.  But Republicans remain optimistic about their political fortunes in 2010.

With Democratic senators standing by his side recently at the White House, the president said he was cautiously optimistic about finally getting a health care reform package through the Congress that in his words, will touch the lives of nearly every American.

"They are waiting for us to act," said President Obama. "They are counting on us to show leadership, and I don't intend to let them down and neither do the people standing next to me."

Opinion polls have shown public support for the president's health care plan has weakened in recent months, and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky remains hopeful that the Democratic bill can still be stopped.

"But I think they are having an extremely difficult time convincing 60 people to completely ignore the wishes of the American people with a weak, flimsy argument to make history, when we all know that many things that happened in history were not good," said Mitch McConnell.

Democrats need the support of 60 of the 100 U.S. senators to approve the legislation and avoid parliamentary delaying tactics that could kill the bill.

Enacting health care reform has been a top priority for President Obama, and the issue is likely to figure prominently in next year's midterm congressional elections.

Mr. Obama won't have to seek re-election until 2012, but Quinnipiac University pollster Peter Brown says the president will be a major player in next year's congressional elections.

"The notion that the 2010 elections won't be nationalized or won't be about Barack Obama I think is unlikely," said Peter Brown. "This election will be about President Obama.  He is not on the ballot, but his party is on the ballot and many of his supporters are on the ballot."

Even if they fail to block the health care bill, Republicans are feeling optimistic about their chances next year.

The president's party historically loses congressional seats in the first midterm election, and Republicans have already improved their image with independent voters in gubernatorial victories in November in New Jersey and Virginia.

Ed Gillespie is a former chairman of the Republican National Committee.

"Independent voters moving to vote Republican by two-to-one margins," said Ed Gillespie. "That is significant and I think probably the most telling harbinger for the 2010 midterm elections."

Republicans also hope to take advantage of the grass roots opposition that swelled up this year over the president's health care plan and over the growing budget deficit.

Both issues have energized conservatives and that could give Republicans an advantage in voter intensity heading into next year's congressional elections.

Texas Senator John Cornyn is leading the Republican effort to pick up more senate seats in 2010.

"We can say that Republicans have a big opportunity to help restore checks and balances and yes, even some fiscal discipline to Washington, D.C.,  but what I think we have been given is an opportunity, an opportunity, nothing more and nothing less," said John Cornyn.

Democrats could have a challenging time inspiring the same coalition of voters that elected Mr. Obama president to get out and vote in congressional elections next November.

Outgoing Virginia Governor Tim Kaine is the Democrat's national chairman.  Kaine says the party's strong performance in the 2008 presidential and congressional elections gives it a strong foundation for next year's elections.

"We are broadening geographically, we are broadening ideologically, and that creates some challenges, obviously, and we are broadening demographically," said Tim Kaine. "While on the Republican side, we see a party that is narrowing geographically, that is narrowing ideologically and that is narrowing demographically."

Some Democrats are disillusioned, however, at what they see as a disappointing record of follow-through on President Obama's agenda of change when he first took office.

Robert Borosage is with the liberal group, The Campaign For America's Future.

"When he speaks, he lays out the clearest discussion of where we ought to go as a country," said Robert Borosage. "It is quite an extraordinary gift.  I think that has all been a strength.  I think in terms of implementation and his strategy in terms of trying to pass things, it has been a weakness."

Public opinion polls show the president's approval rating now about 50 percent, a sizable drop from when he first took office last January.  But the same surveys show that voters are still skeptical about the Republican's ability to lead and handle issues, says pollster Peter Brown.

"Despite all the problems that the president may have in public opinion, it is very clear that Americans trust President Obama a lot more than they trust Republicans," he said. "For instance on the question of health care, by double-digits they prefer that President Obama do it."

Experts agree that the most important thing the president can do to improve Democrat's chances in next year's election is do all he can to improve the economy and help get Americans back to work. 

This forum has been closed.
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.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs