Democrats keep safe distance from Obama

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The beginning of March means one thing for college students: midterms. But as SMU students head to Fondren to study for their chemistry labs and history seminars, the United States Congress heads into midterms of their own.

It’s midterm election season, which means Republicans and Democrats are grappling over 36 Senate seats and all 435 seats in the House. Right now, the Democrats control the Senate, with 53 seats; Republicans had 45 seats and two are held by independents.

But Republicans have a majority in the House, boasting 232 seats to the Democrats’
199 seats.

It’s a split Congress now. But that could change this coming November. The Republicans are expected to maintain their hold on the House. In the wake of the Affordable Care Act and growing disapproval of Obama, Democrat incumbents in the Senate could lose to Republicans this fall.

There are 21 Democratic Senate seats up for reelection this term. Of those, the party fears it could lose seven: South Dakota, West Virginia, Montana, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alaska and North Carolina.

While midterm elections do not get the same attention presidential elections, their results will play a critical role in the dynamics of the chambers and will affect the presidential race in 2016.

Obama tried to explain the importance of the midterm elections to party members at the Democratic Governors Association Dinner, according to a recent story by ABC News.

Obama says the party and nation often don’t pay as much attention to midterm elections as presidential races because they aren’t “sexy,” but claims this year’s battles could be just as important as the 2016 presidential election.

As we go into the midterms there are two important things to consider. First, Obama’s performance does have an impact on midterm elections. And second, if Democrats hope to win in contested races, they should steer clear of association with Obama’s policies.

An article in the New York Times argues that the popularity of the President will be an issue in the highly contested races.

An analysis by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report calls this effect the “Obama Factor.”

Obama’s disapproval ratings have surpassed 50 percent in 10 out of the 21 races in which a Democratic Senate seat is up for reelection. The rating is even worse in the open Democratic seat states, West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana. In those three states, the disapproval rating is over 55 percent.

Because of this, the Cook Report argues Democrats should stray away from Obama’s messages for the highest chance of success.

Many Democratic incumbents in states where Romney won in 2012 are distancing themselves from Obama. Kay Hagan of North Carolina avoided being seen with Obama during his last visit to her state, according to an article by The Guardian. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana publicly spoke out against the administration, according to the same article.

It seems that as Democrats are running for re-election, many of them are actually running as far away from the White House as possible.

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