Results in the House and Senate elections of 2010
Midterm elections in the U.S are usually held exactly in the middle of each presidential term in a bid to set the power balance in congress which is to take them for the remaining two years of the term. This term’s elections were held on 2nd November 2010 with all 434 House of Representative seats up for grabs. In the Senate, a minimum of 36 seats was to be contested. The pressure was on the Democratic-led government to regain their control by capturing a majority of the seats and avoiding a major switch of seats to Republicans.
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Controlling the majority of seats in both the Senate and the House of Representatives is essential as it decides the tip of support when it comes to making legislation. The Obama led Democratic government was under pressure coming to the midterm elections and although the presidency position was not in the offing, he had to rally his support to ensure he regained the majority seats to ensure a smooth sail of his policy agendas and instituting new legislations
When the elections were held in early November, major switches were experienced. In the House of Representatives, Republicans registered a massive victory scooping capturing at least 239 of the seats compared to the Democrat’s 188. This was a record 60 seat loss from the Democratic governor to the Republicans. The result now means that the Republicans now control the majority of the representation in the House.
In the Senate where at least 36 of the 100 positions were being contested, which totals up to around a third of the Senate seats, the Republicans gained considerably bringing the final tally to 47 for Republicans against 53 for Democrats. The Republicans however failed to hit the 10 positions they needed to take control of the issues. The Democrats will as a result face a tough task of convincing 60 votes from the Senate which the required minimum to den the Republican’s influence in their policies.
The 60 seat loss in the House of Representatives marks a big loss on the side of the Democrats and beats the one experienced in 1994 when President Bill Clinton’s Democratic government lost 54 seats in the House.. In the Senate, the Obama led Democrats lost 6 seats which are a little slower than the 110 seats lost by the Bill Clinton Democratic government in 1994.
Coming to the midterm elections, the focus had been on the state of the economy with much pressure being put on the Obama led Democratic government to deliver their promise of a much-desired change. The Democratic Party had taken over the government with promising reforms that would revive the economy greatly. Questions were being raised on them therefore concerning the high rate of unemployment which still stood at around 10%.
In the recent past, Obama has promised to scrap the tax cuts that were put in place by the Bush government. The Democratic government had promised that one of their main focuses would be to cut down on the expenditures which they seem to have compromised on the heavy funds allocated to the health care program as well the $50 billion infrastructure spending announced recently. The Republicans on the other hand have opted to capitalize on the weaknesses of the Democrats to promise a better economy.
They criticized the heavy budgeted health care bill as well as appealed for the extension of the tax cuts. They have also promised to scrap the policy measures implemented by Obama led government during the economic recession as well as cut down the size of what they call a big government.
The impact felt on the tipping of balance during the midterm elections was significantly influenced by the patterns in voter turn out. During the 2008 elections, the youths rallied their support to the youthful Obama. During the midterm elections, only 9% turned out to vote differently from 18% who voted in 2008. The youths in the U.S are known to be Democrats hence the felt impact upon their laxity to vote.
During the midterm elections when Obama’s name was not on the ballot box, the black community registered a very low voter turnout. 13% had voted during the 2008 elections while only 10% voted during the midterm elections. Hispanics make up just 8% of the voter population while only 66% favor Democratic candidates. Interest support groups also played a vital role in deciding the swing of votes during the elections. The Democrats received massive support from Commonsense Ten, which is a “super PAC” interest group that rallied its support for Democratic candidates sending up to $3million.
They particularly supported Senators Barbara Boxer and Robert Menendez among others. The Republicans also received massive support from American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS who spent a total of $38 million. They also met with the candidates to offer campaign strategies and in the end helped to capture 38 House seats as well as Senate seats. During the campaign period and before, the media played a very big role in influencing the swing of support while showing business on certain political sides.
The NYT for example was conducting their polls indicating the voter’s support at different periods towards the election. In a certain article, they were quoted as having indicated how many Democrats have lost faith in their party and were quickly turning to ‘Lean Democrats’ and later switching to Republicans.
Obama has been at the forefront throwing his support to the Democratic candidates by staying true to their proposed policy changes. His support however proved not good enough as evidenced by the results. Over the period leading to the elections, there had been massive cries for the government to address certain issues like the tax cut extensions as well as addressing the unemployment. Obama stood firm to his policies and did not conform to these cries.
Republicans also set a record in massive spending of the money offered by support groups. Obama had stated clearly that he didn’t like the idea of big organization campaigning on the Democrat’s behalf which could have been a setback for his party. The results as they are means that none of the party has full control of making legislations. This is a very positive step since policies that have been forced on the Americans in the past will be kept in the check and the final decision will be a representation of different groups.
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Analyzing one political and one military goal of the Obama administration in Afghanistan
When Obama ascended into the presidency in 2009, he did so with the support of a majority of the Americans following his attractive pledges in reforming the policies abused by Bush’s government. One such pledge was to cut on the government’s expenditure by withdrawing the troops in Iraq and ending the military support in Afghanistan. These earned him much publicity but the events in recent times have threatened to lose his support.
He recently agreed on sending additional 30,000 military troops to Afghanistan which is a direct violation of his pledges. He however said that the withdrawal of the troops will be done by 2011. He went ahead to explain that the withdrawal will not be an abrupt action but instead it will mark the beginning of a transition where the military troops will embark on a slow process of enforcing the local security forces to set a stable government in place.
This means continued spending of billions of dollars and that the complete military withdrawal will not happen soon. These goals by Obama have an internationalism affiliation as understood in his cal for ensuring a smooth transition in troop’s withdrawal and instituting a stable local Afghan government. He has also on many occasions called on other countries to rally their support on this issue asking them to show the good friendship they pledged. These are unlike George Washington’s policies which were for isolationism where European influence was to be kept at bay and Americans to stay internally independent.
When Obama announces these strategies on the Afghanistan issue, many people started questioning his actions. They could not understand how he went against his pledge to withdraw troops and instead send more troops. He was questioned on the timeline which he intended to commission the withdrawal of the troops and he couldn’t exactly tell but promised it would soon happen. Democrats felt that he had gone against the party’s philosophy and were against that proposal which made hi lose a lot of support. The timing of the issue couldn’t have come at a worse time; the announcement came as the country geared towards the midterm elections.
This became another point of the opposing Republicans to fight Obama’s Democratic-led government. It, therefore, played a major role in Democrats losing their popularity, and hence Republicans were able to capture the majority seats in the House. The Afghan issue could also have played part in the low voter turnout who were Democrats supporters. Typical Democrats are known to skip the voting if they feel unsatisfied which largely explains the failure of many Democratic candidates to recapture their seats.
The media continues to show its business in addressing the Afghanistan efforts made by President Obama. In an article published in the New York Times on 13th September 2010, the editorial page was titled “The State of War” and poured its criticism in the way Obama continued to handle the Afghan issue. Sharp words were used to express how Obama conflicts his pledges. The editorial further questions the strategies and wanted to know if using the same old tactics that have been in place for the last nine years were the solution to fighting the Taliban.
It demanded that the President explain his exact course of action and break down the method he uses to measure progress. The editorial pours scorn on the Obama administration’s efforts arguing that due to the conflict in the top officials, the Afghan President might end up ignoring what America has to offer. This comes after the NYT Editorial board gave up on Obama’s pledges after he had promised them in an interview that he had a set date for troop’s withdrawal which he later did not honor.
On a scale of 1-10, I would rate Obama’s rate of Success at 5. Without pressure on the deadline for the troop withdrawal, Obama seems to have a very good strategy of first fighting the Taliban and then helping the local security forces and the President set a stable government which is in line with his internationalism outlook. He has also assisted the government design a working constitution and pledges to have everybody honor its provisions including the Taliban after they cut loose their indulgence with Al Qaeda.
However, tough challenges are waiting and the plans may not happen as he hopes. They are also other issues to be addressed concerning Afghanistan. Allegations of corruption have been said to be quoting the appointment of President Karzai’s brother to head a provincial council. On the issue of the Taliban, driving them out will not be easy and to end their reign might mean getting to Pakistan which would elevate the war further.
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