WASHINGTON - Across the United States, candidates are making final pleas for votes ahead of midterm elections Tuesday. At stake: which party will control each house of the U.S. Congress for President Barack Obama’s final two years in office.
It is crunch time for candidates seeking to rally supporters and convince any remaining undecided voters.
“We are reminding everybody about the power to make a difference in this election by getting out and voting,” explained Georgia Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn.
Both parties have deployed their biggest names to the campaign trails: former Republican presidential contenders Mitt Romney and John McCain, and, on the Democratic side, former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Notably absent from most Democratic campaigns: President Obama, whose declining approval numbers have vulnerable Democratic lawmakers distancing themselves from the White House. Even so, Obama did make a campaign appearance in Michigan last week.
“I want to tell you why you need to vote. This country has made real progress since the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes,” the president told the audience. “Over the past four and a half years, we have seen American businesses create more than 10 million new jobs. Over the past six months, our economy has grown at the fastest pace in more than 10 years.”
“Barack Obama finds himself in the same kind of position that [former President George W.] Bush did six years ago,” explains political analyst Norm Ornstein.
“For an awful lot of his own candidates, persona non-grata [unwelcome], except for raising money. They do not want to have the president side-by-side with them.”
Republicans, on the other hand, are eager to tie their Democratic opponents to the president.
“The Obama-Shaheen agenda ends right here, right now!” said Senate candidate Scott Brown while campaigning in New Hampshire.
Republicans are widely expected to retain control of the House of Representatives. In the Senate, they would need a net gain of six seats to seize control from Democrats.
“We have a fairly clear idea that the trends favor, as they normally would, the Republican Party,” Ornstein said. “The party out of the presidency does well in midterms. It is a tough road for Democrats. There is a route to keeping the [Senate] majority. Republicans have multiple routes to taking a majority.”
Democrats tout a massive voter mobilization effort they say will prove the polls wrong. Republicans, meanwhile, are sounding increasingly confident of victory on Tuesday. But as always, those who show up to vote on November 4 will have the final say.