US Â VOTERS are increasingly disillusioned with Washington as they head to the polls November 4 to elect senators and members of the House of Representatives.
No single issue is set to dominate as in recent elections when dissatisfaction with President Barack Obama’s health care reforms drove voters to the polls in 2010, and in 2006 when fatigue with the war in Iraq propelled voters.
Instead voters are likely to express general dissatisfaction with the direction of the country and leadership in Washington. Two-thirds of voters in states where there are competitive races feel the country is “out of control right now,” while the other third were confident the US could meet its economic and national security challenges, a Politico poll found this week.
Among the diverse issues being discussed on the campaign trail:
Economy – Pocketbook issues, including the availability of good jobs, dominate both Democrats’ and Republicans’ concerns, according to pollster Gallup. The White House points to declining unemployment and other positive economic indicators, and more Americans think things are improving even as stagnant wages and other problems remain.
Washington deadlock – Voters are also unified across party lines in being concerned about the way the federal government is working. Republicans, seeking to win control of the Senate, have been quick to blame Obama and the Democrats for the partisan gridlock, while Democrats have accused Republicans of obstructionism. Obama himself remains unpopular – his job approval averaged 41.5 per cent in the last quarter – and voters are more likely to see their vote as one in opposition to the president than in support of him, Gallup says.
Islamic State – International issues only rarely play a role in US congressional elections, but some 84 per cent of voters in key battleground states believe the terrorist group poses a serious threat to the United States, according to Politico. Historically, Republicans tend to gain when voters focus on national security issues.
Ebola – Democrats could also be in danger over the government’s handling of the Ebola outbreak. Republican lawmakers have called for travel bans and attempted to paint a picture of government mismanagement after the diagnosis of an Ebola patient in Texas who later died. Politico found two-thirds of Americans have some or a lot of confidence in the government response, but a third have little or no confidence. Republicans in key states tend to have the least confidence.)
Health care – Obama’s health care reforms drove voters to the polls in a Republican wave in 2010, but despite a botched rollout last year, the issue has not played a major role in this year’s campaign. Though support for repealing the law has waned, Republicans still point to rising costs and dissatisfaction with the plan.
Immigration – One of the primary unresolved political issues remains reform of the nation’s immigration system, but Obama this summer put off executive action on the matter until after the election. -SAPA-DPA