With US elections just days away, public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake.
As Nicholas and Ibrahim run around in a playground in northern Virginia, their mothers, like many other women across the country, are concerned about economic and national security issues.
And both political parties know women in Tuesday's midterm elections will likely determine who controls the U.S. Senate and some governors' mansions.
Alabama visitor Nancy Capiello said she's not planning to vote.
“[In] this day and age I feel like I should be more concerned with my immediate family and unfortunately those other influences go by the wayside, because I feel like nobody’s doing anything to save us or protect us in any way,” said Capiello.
Hawa Coulibaly of Virginia said she does plan to vote, and has been paying close attention.
“I am concerned about what’s going on but I feel that our government has control of it. I feel like the government is doing the best that it can at this point,” said Coulibaly.
These responses from the playground reflect what women are telling pollsters.
Margie Omero of the Purple Strategies public research firm in Virginia called the national mood “miserable.”
“People are feeling a little bit better economically, at least that hasn’t worsened, but you’ve seen economic anxiety replaced by worries about government dysfunction and international instability - ISIS or Ebola or international volatility, school violence, school shootings, crime,” said Omero.
Neil Newhouse, a pollster with Public Opinion Strategies in Virginia, agreed and said this could be bad news for Democrats.
“We’ve had now 114 straight months where Americans believe their country is headed in the wrong direction. This is the longest sustained period of pessimism that we’ve seen for like 30 years in this country,” said Newhouse.
Newhouse pointed out that there has been a gender gap in U.S. politics for decades.
“Men are significantly more Republican, women are more Democratic and you know, men vote more economic issues, women vote more personal security issues,” said Newhouse.
And even within the group of women voters, there is another divide, said Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution.
“Married women actually are more likely to vote Republican than Democratic, whereas unmarried women are much more likely to vote for the Democrats so there’s not just a gender divide that tends to favor the Democrats overall,” said Sawhill.
As Nancy and Hawa told VOA on the playground, many American women say they would like for Congress and the president to work together to address their concerns.