News / USA

Volatile Political Climate Backdrop For US Elections

2010 has already proven to be a volatile political year in the United States.  Three sitting U.S. senators have been defeated in primary elections so far, and there are predictions of more upheaval to come when voters go the polls in congressional midterm elections in November.  

The latest political upset occurred in Alaska.  Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski was defeated by political newcomer Joe Miller in a primary election.  Miller had help from conservative Tea Party activists and from former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

Palin was the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2008 and has emerged as a major political player this year as dozens of conservative candidates seek her endorsement.

Palin was also a featured speaker at a recent conservative rally in Washington organized by commentator Glenn Beck, and some Republicans are urging her to run for president in 2012. "We must not fundamentally transform America, as some would want, we must restore America and restore her honor," she said.

Earlier this year, Tea Party supporters helped to defeat veteran Senator Bob Bennett in the Republican nominating convention in Utah.  They have also played an important role in a number of congressional primaries around the country, forcing Republican office-holders to take note of the power of the energized and well-organized conservative activists.

Gerard Alexander is a political scientist at the University of Virginia and a recent guest on VOA's Encounter program. "The majority of Republican incumbents who have been challenged or overthrown in their own primaries has tended to be people who had committed sins, so to speak, by being too far to the center or the left rather than too far to the right," he said.

Alexander says Tea Party activists are having an impact on U.S. politics this year, even though experts do not classify the movement as a formal political party. "I don't even like using the term 'Tea Party' because it implies a very specifically organized group and force, and that is not really what that social movement appears to be.  It is more comparable, it seems to me, to phrases we have used from the past like the Feminist movement or the Civil Rights movement or other groups that are made up of tens or hundreds of thousands of individuals, many of whom are not centrally coordinated," he said.

Anger over the power of the federal government, congressional spending and the growing national debt are driving forces behind the Tea Party movement.  Tea Party supporters strongly oppose President Obama's economic stimulus plan and the health care reform law passed by Democrats in Congress, and those views have been on display in numerous Republican primary elections around the country.

Kevin Whitelaw is an editor with Congressional Quarterly Magazine and a guest on VOA's Issues in the News program. "It shows the depth of this anti-government message that the Tea Party has, and it also does show this reserve of anger about what the Obama administration and the Democrats have done," he said.

Republicans expect to benefit from the energy of conservative activists in the November midterm congressional elections.  A growing number of analysts now predict Republicans are within striking distance of winning back control of the House of Representatives, and have at least an outside chance of taking back the Senate.

The latest unemployment numbers released Friday did little to boost the hopes of Democrats.  The U.S. jobless rate rose slightly in August, even though private employers reported a modest increase in new jobs.

As he has before, President Obama urged Americans to have patience as they hope for an economic rebound. "There is no quick fix to the worst recession we have experienced since the Great Depression.  The hard truth is that it took years to create our current economic problems and it will take more time than any of us would like to repair the damage," he said.

The economic uncertainty has created a difficult political mood in the country for Democrats, says veteran political observer Tom DeFrank of the New York Daily News. "The American people are jittery about their lives, their futures, the future of their employment, their kid's jobs.  Nobody believes that the economy is coming back (right now).  It will come back but nowhere in time to help the Democrats in the November elections, that is for sure," he said.

In addition to Senators Murkowski and Bennett, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, a Democrat, was also defeated in a primary earlier this year.  

The midterm elections will be held on November 2.  All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are at stake, along with 37 of the 100 U.S. Senate seats and 37 state governorships.

You May Like

Kurdish Party Pushes Political Gamble to Run in Turkey Poll

HDP announces it will run as political party instead of fielding independent candidates in June election, but faces tough 10 percent threshold More

Twitter Targets Islamic State

New research shows suspending Twitter accounts of Islamic State, its supporters has been effective; group, its backers are facing 'significant pressure,' says terrorism expert More

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

Majur Juac made the leap from being a refugee in Africa to a master chess champion in US, where he shares his expertise with students 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.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid