News / USA

US Democrats Bracing For Election Setbacks

In U.S. politics, President Barack Obama's public approval ratings are hitting new lows and a growing number of analysts now believe opposition Republicans have an excellent chance of winning back control of at least one chamber of Congress in midterm elections in November.  

The news for President Obama seems to be getting grimmer.  The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll found that nearly 60 percent of those surveyed lack faith in the president to make the right decisions for the country, and that only 43 percent approve of his handling of the economy.  Both figures are new lows for that poll.

The negative poll ratings have been building for some time, according to Karlyn Bowman.  Bowman monitors public opinion at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

"Pew [poll] noted last week that more people think Obama is having an effect on the economy than felt that way a year ago," said Karlyn Bowman. "The bad news is that more people think he is making it worse rather than better."

The president's overall approval rating is at or just under 50 percent in most recent polls, and that could spell trouble for Democrats trying to hold onto their majorities in Congress in the November midterm elections.

Poor presidential approval ratings usually mean losses for the president's party in midterm congressional elections.  In addition, the Democrats are fighting history.  With very few exceptions, the party that controls the White House loses congressional seats in a new president's first midterm election.

Democrats hope that signs of an economic turnaround will be evident by Election Day in November, but so far the public remains skeptical.  That means the president has a lot of convincing to do between now and November as he campaigns and raises money for Democratic congressional candidates around the country.

"You have to understand, we are headed in the right direction, and what the other side is offering is basically to go back to the same ideas that got us into this mess in the first place!  That is all they are doing," said President Obama.

Republicans believe the more the president slides in the polls, the more they gain.  Texas Senator John Cornyn is coordinating the Republican effort to win back a majority of seats in the U.S. Senate.

"This will be a referendum on his leadership and we feel very good about the outcome," said Senator Cornyn.

Republicans need to win 39 additional seats in the 435-member House of Representatives to win control of that body, and would need to gain ten seats in the Senate to gain a majority in that chamber.

Many political analysts now see a Republican wave building for November, fueled in part by conservative grass roots activists who support the so-called Tea Party movement.

Even presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs recently acknowledged that there are enough competitive House races this year that would allow the Republicans to win a majority in November.

Analyst Charlie Cook says that he believes Republicans will win enough seats to take back control of the House of Representatives, in part because Republicans seem more committed to voting this year than Democrats.

"They are not enthusiastic," said Charlie Cook. "They are not energized.  They are very lethargic.  At the same time Republicans and conservatives are really motivated, really energized and they look likely to turn out in unusually large numbers.  So there is a huge gap in terms of intensity and likelihood of voting and that is important in these midterm elections where the [voter] turnout is usually about a third less than in presidential years."

Congressional midterm elections tend to draw fewer voters than turnout for presidential elections.

Cook also believes that many of the independent voters who helped elect Barack Obama president in 2008 and who supported the Democratic takeover of Congress in 2006 have now shifted their allegiance to the Republicans.

"This is a group that voted for Democrats for Congress by an 18 point margin in 2006," he said. "They voted for President Obama by an eight point margin in 2008, and in the Gallup Poll over the last three months they have been giving Republicans an average of a 12-point lead in the contest for Congress."

Republicans may have an advantage heading into this year's congressional election campaign, but public opinion polls also suggest they have their weaknesses as well, says polling analyst Karlyn Bowman.

"Just like the Democrats, Republicans in Congress are not highly regarded," she said. "The Republican Party is more unpopular than the Democratic Party.  People are still more likely to identify themselves as Democrats than Republicans.  Finally, more people still trust the Democrats over the Republicans to handle the big problems facing the country."

Analysts say the president could help his own cause by finding ways to boost his own poll ratings before November.

Bruce Buchanan is an expert on the presidency at the University of Texas:

"When you are below 50 percent that is when the red flags start to fly," said Bruce Buchanan. "But in terms of minimizing losses and the predicted setbacks of a first term midterm election, you want the president's approval to be as high as possible, certainly in the middle 50 percent range, 55 percent or thereabouts if possible."

Experts say a Republican takeover of one or both houses of Congress would greatly complicate President Obama's ability to govern.  Not only would Republicans be able to block or stall the president's legislative agenda, but winning a majority in the House would also allow them to launch congressional investigations and hold hearings over the next two years just as the president is preparing for his own re-election campaign in 2012.  

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs