Voting underway in US midterm elections

The big prize in Tuesday’s midterm elections is control of the U.S. Senate.

Voting underway in US midterm elections

World Bulletin/News Desk

Americans are voting in nationwide elections Tuesday with control of the U.S. Senate eagerly sought by both major parties in the midterm polls.

Republicans already have control of the House, and are widely expected to maintain it. If they are also able to wrest control of the Senate from the Democrats, they will have full control of the legislature, further complicating Democratic President Barack Obama's efforts to drive U.S. policy.

All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for grabs, while a little more than a third of Senate seats are being contested. Three dozen state governorships are also up for election.

A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll showed Obama’s favorability ratings hitting an all-time low. Just 44 percent of respondents said that they viewed the American president favorably.

The downward spiral in Obama’s popularity has fueled a Republican charge to increase its hold in Congress, and has led some Democrats running for office to distance themselves from the once-popular leader as they vie to gain or maintain their seat in highly competitive elections.

Chris Lowery, a resident of McLean, Virginia, said that Obama has not gotten enough credit for what he has accomplished, especially from his party.

“I feel the president isn’t getting enough credit – particularly other Democratic candidates aren’t recognizing him for what he has accomplished despite huge obstacles," he said. "Even if the Republicans prevail in controlling the Senate this time, I can't see how our nation is going to get anything meaningful done if Congress is basically at a standstill. 

Annette Vaughan, a resident of neighboring Vienna said that while she hopes Republicans are able to gain control of the Senate, she was doubtful that it would actually result in the body, whose performance over the past two decades she said was "abysmal," passing needed legislation.

“I just think the president had an opportunity - and he had opportunities  - to exert leadership,” she said. “I don’t think he did a very good job, and it’s time for another group to have a chance to do it.”

For Maria Badillo-Benzaria, an immigrant from Colombia who along with her husband owns a small business, the economy was the number one issue driving her decisions at the ballot box.

 “When we see that we, the people who are working so hard are being penalized by taking risks, by investing, by creating jobs it’s kind of difficult,” she said. “I came here and my husband did the same. We are foreigners. We are the realization of the American dream, and my fear is that that American dream is not going to be there for other people coming in."

In Manhattan, Al, a 57-year-old resident of the New York City borough, said that he thought the election would see a number of voters who would normally vote Democrat stand behind the Republicans.

"I do think that can affect the congressional elections," he said. "A lot of people are saying Obama is a lame duck and nothing will get done in the next two years, but it may not work that way."

Julia, 44, who along with Al voted at the Central Synagogue on Lexington Ave., said that the result of Tuesday's election is "crucial."

"Papers say [the decline in Obama’s favorable ratings] will affect the outcome of the election and I’m hoping it won’t," she said. "I think [Obama] has done as much as he possibly could. He passed the health care bill, which is working well. Unemployment is stemmed. Everything is going well. [Some people are] just anti-Obama and they are hopeless."

Voting across the country takes place at local polling stations, which are generally housed within schools, community centers, places of worship, and other focal points of community activity.

Richard Holmquist, the chief election officer at the polling station in McLean, Virginia, said that he saw a steady stream of voters Tuesday, and expected people to continue to show up in roughly the same numbers.

It's not certain if a definitive victor will be seen by Wednesday with some expecting runoffs in at least Louisiana and Georgia. Potential recall votes in some races could also slow down the process.

Turnout for midterm elections is generally lower than years in which presidential voting takes place. Roughly 40 percent of voters turn out for midterms compared to about 60 percent in presidential elections.

Last Mod: 04 Kasım 2014, 21:55
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