Americans will be voting in one week and this midterm election is attracting an unusual amount of attention in the German press. International observers recognize that the mood has changed in the US, and the power base is shifting: November 7 could be a blowout victory for the Democratic Party. Politikerscreen sees the Iraq War as the determining factor:
Die Unzufriedenheit der Bevölkerung mit dem Kriegsverlauf ist ein entscheidender Faktor, der die Republikaner die Mehrheit im Kongress kosten könnte. In Umfragen spricht sich nur noch ein Drittel der Bevölkerung für die Irak-Politik unter Bush aus. Die Mehrheit zweifelt am bisherigen Vorgehen. Die Demokraten holen bei den ursprünglich klassisch republikanisch besetzten Themen Irak und Terrorismus auf. Laut einer Umfrage der USA Today/Gallup trauen die Menschen der Oppositionspartei eine bessere Handhabung der Irak-Krise zu.
For my job I travel quite a bit around the US and have noticed a definite shift in mood since the 2004 election that secured a second term for President Bush.
- Anger over Iraq: even in red states there is the realization that the war is a failure and US troops are dying fighting an unknown enemy for an unknown mission. Each day brings more terrible news of the civil war in Iraq. The president continues to demonize Democrats as "cut-and-run"cowards, and calls the conflict "World War III", but his words no longer have any effect. Reality has set in, and anger is growing.
- Social Issues: The Republican tactic of appealing to social conservatives by demonizing gays and lesbians, frightening gun owners, and using abortion as a wedge is not working so well this election cycle. Also, the Democrats have gained traction with their own wedge issue - embyonic stem cell research - which is dividing Republicans.
- Economic Issues: Voters are not feeling so great about tax cuts that benefitted the wealthy disproportionately; income growth has been non-existent for all but the richest Americans; the air has gone out of the real estate bubble and many Americans are burdened with debt secured by declining property values; health care costs are impoverishing more and more Americans as the number of uninsured and underinsured skyrockets; the ticket to better-paying jobs - namely, a college education - is out of reach for a growing number of Americans. Meanwhile, the Democrats have gained support with their call for an increase in the minimum wage.
I don't doubt that the Republicans will try to steal some local elections through voter suppression or manipulating electronic voting machines, but I am making the following prediction: Democrats pick up 50 seats in the House and gain control of Senate by one seat. Remember, you read it here first.