Democrats and Republicans are framing the elections in starkly different terms, with GOP strategists painting it as a national referendum on President Barack Obama and the party in power, and Democrats working feverishly to make all politics local.Â The outcome will help determine whether Republicans take control of the House, the Senate or both. It also may profoundly affect Obama’s agenda for the next two years.
Republicans have every reason to try to nationalize the Nov. 2 election, when voters will fill all 435 House seats, 36 Senate seats and 37 governorships. Democrats succeeded in the elections of 2006 and 2008 by focusing on President George W. Bush’s tenure, Republicans’ performance in Congress and the Iraq war; the GOP hopes to turn the tables now.
Polls show significant discontent with policies linked to Obama and congressional Democrats, including rising deficits and bank bailouts. The latest AP-GfK survey found that 60 percent of those questioned think the nation is heading in the wrong direction, and 73 percent disapprove of the Democratic-led Congress.Â Polls also show significantly higher energy and enthusiasm among conservative voters than liberals.
GOP strategists believe they can sustain this wave and ride it to victory if they can focus voters’ attention on overarching complaints against Obama and Democratic lawmakers: government overreach, big spending, Washington intrusion.