Obama’s Democrats brace for election losses

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

WASHINGTON - Polling stations began closing in key eastern US states Tuesday evening, with the economy topping voter concerns and Republicans hoping for massive gains against President Barack Obama’s Democrats in the congressional US elections.

All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 37 seats in the 100-member Senate are up for grabs as well as governorships and many state and local positions.

Initial exit polls found that the still-sluggish US economy was the top concern for 62 percent of voters, according to pollster John Zogby, with many angry at Obama’s massive spending plans and inability to revive the labour market. Unemployment remains at 9.6 percent.

“Obama didn’t have any strategy. It has been a great disappointment,” said Susan Allen, in her 60s, as she cast her vote in New York City.

Polling suggests Republicans are highly likely to gain more than the 39 seats they need to reclaim a majority in the lower House, buoyed by the support of independent voters who put Obama in office two years ago.

Control of the Senate is less certain, but likely to remain in the hands of Democrats, who have held majorities in both chambers of Congress since 2006.

Polling stations had closed by 7 pm (2300 GMT) in six key states that offered some initial signs of which party has been able to get their base to the polls. US broadcasters CNN and Fox News projected Republican victories in Indiana and Kentucky.

In a last-minute bid to stem the losses, Obama made a round of radio interviews with such popular personalities like Ryan Seacrest, of American Idol fame.

“I want everyone to remember that you can’t shape your future if you don’t participate,” Obama said on Seacrest’s syndicated show. “You’ve got to get out there and vote. Young people all across this country are going to make the difference. Not just now, but in the future.”

With many neck-and-neck races across the country and ballots counted across six time zones, it will likely be a long night before final results are known. Some races could take days to sort out.

The conservative movement has been galvanized by the rise of the Tea Party, a grassroots movement of voters angry with incumbent politicians and the expansion of government under Obama. “Dump Incumbents” signs peppered the streets in and around Washington.

The Republican Party’s takeover of Congress, together with the Tea Party’s uncompromising stance on most political issues, has many predicting legislative gridlock during Obama’s next two years in office leading up to the 2012 presidential elections.

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