Tuesday, November 07 2006 @ 06:01 PM MSK
|The American public is going to the polls on Tuesday to have their say about the Bush administration.|
The White House has been hit with allegations of corruption of late and is suffering because of the worsening situation in Iraq.
These mid-term elections have almost become a referendum while also becoming one of the most highly-funded in American history.
Votes for the Republicans will indicate public support for the government’s Iraq strategy.
Depending on the amount of votes the Democrats win, the balance of power in Washington is at stake.
These mid-term elections will also be a sign of things to come for the 2008 presidential elections.
Recent polls suggest a slight edge for the Democrats with undecideds unhappy with the war in Iraq.
The war in Iraq is expected to be the main decider for final result at the polls.
Americans are worried about the endless war in Iraq, allegations of corruption and mounting casualties.
Over 50% of those polled were against the government’s plans for Iraq, and want American soldiers to return home.
Bush’s response to criticism is based on his argument that the war is part of keeping the threat of terrorism away from the United States.
The Democrats are arguing that the Bush administration has put U.S. soldiers in a quagmire of misery in Iraq.
If the Democrats become stronger in the House of Representatives, Bush will not have the power to take decisions he previously did. Though even with Democrats in the House of Representatives, the American policy on Iraq is not expected to change much.
Apart from the Iraq issue, the government’s economic and healthcare strategies will also affect the final result of the mid-term elections.
Candidates tried hard on television talk shows to promote themselves and discredit their opponents.
A series of scandals broke after the American news media first discovered that Mark Foley, a Republican Congress member, sent sexually explicit emails to a male page.
An uproar was caused by allegations of a sex scandal involving a top evangelist, known for his close ties with the Bush administration. The religious leader admitted and resigned in the face of overwhelming allegations of sex with male escorts, shocking Republicans.
Republicans are also suffering a great deal from allegations of bribery.
Jack Abramoff, a well-known lobbyist, was found to have been involved with Republicans over bribery and fraud charges.
Robert Ney, a Republican congressman from Ohio, was also charged with bribery and corruption.
While Ney refused to resign, the Republican election campaigns in Ohio were negatively affected.
A speech from John Kerry came as a relief to Bush in a moment of crisis.
Bush pressed Kerry to apologize for his words when he called American soldiers “uneducated.”
Kerry afterwards apologized to American soldiers when he bowed to pressure from the American public and from his party members.
Republican candidates don’t want to share the same picture with Bush
Worried that a possible shift in power from the Republicans to the Democrats in Congress will leave him politically challenged for his last two years in office, Bush is making trips to critically important states to make positive contributions to the election campaigns.
With a usual voting rate of around 30 percent, the United States offers success in elections to the party that can bring voters to polls.
Voters will also respond to some initiatives attached to the ballots in 37 states.
Hotly disputed questions are a raise in minimum wages, homosexual marriages and broader research on embryonic stem cells.
People who have a strong opinion on these issues are more likely to go to polls.
Past referendums, particularly on homosexual marriages, gave the Republicans the last election.
Analysts suggest that this time the Republicans will not benefit much from referendums in contested states.
‘Democrats Confident This Time’
According to the British press closely following the upcoming U.S. elections, Democrats, who place far ahead of Republicans in recent surveys, are feeling quite self-assured this time.
The Daily Telegraph stated that Democrats were becoming ever more confident while the Independent said that Republicans were busy preparing themselves for a terrible downfall.
The British press also considers these Congressional elections to be a vote of confidence for the foreign policies of the Bush administration, and Iraq in particular.
Congress Kept Fresh with Biannual Elections
In the United States, general elections are held every two years, on the Tuesday following the first Monday of November.
The elections are a chance to remake the House of Representatives in the American Congress as well as the Senate.
General elections coincide with presidential elections every four years. When they do not, they are called mid-term elections.
Two parties are represented in Congress. One of them is the Grand Old Party (GOP), more commonly known as the Republican Party. The other is the Democrat Party.
Each American state elects two senators for a total number of one hundred. Senators are elected for a six-year term. During general elections, nearly a third of them (33) are up for re-election.
The members of the House of Representatives are elected for a two-year term. Usually all 435 chairs are contested. The number of congressmen for each state is determined by the population of individual states.
U.S. governors who are normally elected for a four-year term also stand for election.
At the beginning of the November 7, 2006 mid-term elections, the Republicans currently have 230 chairs in the House of Representatives while Democrats have 201.
For Democrats to get a majority of 218 seats, they need to win at least 15 seats more than Republicans. This year 33 seats are closely contested.
In the Senate, in case of a 50-50 tie, Republicans will come out ahead because Vice President Dick Cheney has the right to break the tie by voting in his party’s favor.
Countrywide polls were indicating a stable gain for Democrats. In joint research by the Washington Post and ABC two weeks ago, the number of respondents who thought that Democrats should win was 14 percent higher.
However, the 14 percent gap dropped to 6 percent last week (51 to 45 percent). This result has boosted the morale of Republicans despite the increasing unpopularity of the Iraq war.
Seventy-three percent of those who say they will vote for Democrats state that Iraq was a major factor in their decision.
On the other hand, 77 percent of those who intend to vote for Republicans cited the fight against terrorism as a priority for them.
Another big issue for Republican voters is immigration while 54 percent of Democrat-leaning voters declare economy as their second-most important priority.