Recent public opinion polls have shown Republicans with an advantage heading into the mid-term elections on November 2nd with voters citing increasing concern about the country’s ongoing war in Afghanistan, job losses and the corresponding high rate of unemployment, doubts about President Obama’s leadership and some residual bitterness about the bailout of Wall Street which has been largely responsible for the more recent “big government” debate. A variety of analysts are pointing to potential Republican gains in both Houses, a prediction that is causing Democrats nationwide a good deal of concern.
The Wall Street Bailouts:
While most Americans oppose it, the government’s bailout of Wall Street now appears as a brave rescue preventing the worldwide economy from imploding and resulting in a thirties-era depression. Despite this, the majority of taxpayers still believe it was a bad idea.
From approval ratings near 70 percent when he took office the President has seen his ratings descend as low as the high thirties this year. The republicans have been successful in harnessing a surge of widespread anger over the economy. Some key economic issues such as bank bailouts (seen by many as government interference), high joblessness and an unbridled deficit have helped lend sympathy to the Tea Party Movement.
Recent figures from Rasmussen Reports polling finds that 47 percent of likely U.S. voters give President Obama good or excellent marks as a leader. That’s a nine-point jump from last month but well below the 64 percent who felt that way one week after he took office in January 2009.
The Afghan War:
Casualties among coalition forces have experienced a steady climb since 2001, with a total of over 2,100 dead since the war began. Polls show unanimously the American people are increasingly against the war. A new poll from CNN and Opinion Research Corporation highlights a disapproving American public; 37 percent of those polled support the Afghan war effort, reaching a new low. 52 percent of those polled believe the conflict in Afghanistan is a new Vietnam for the U.S. military.
The economy continues to be the most talked about issue amongst voters’ and pundits alike this election. On Friday the U.S. Labor Department released its September jobs report, the last one before the elections. The unemployment rate remained at 9.6 percent last month, and with millions out of work, political analysts say that cannot be anything but bad news for President Barack Obama and Democrats.
Election expert Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution says that the state of the economy is driving voters away from the Democrats and toward the Republicans. One thing is clear: with such a plethora of major issues on the table, including Health Care Reform, Deficit Spending and Immigration Reform as well as those already mentioned here, it will be a close-run race with the potential for a significant impact on the next two years.