06 November 2014, The Tablet

Voters repudiate Obama as Republicans triumph in mid-term polls

Republicans took control of the US Senate following the mid-term elections on Tuesday, picking up seats in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia, writes Michael Sean Winters.

The Senate contest in Virginia appeared to be heading for a recount because the margin of victory was less than 1 per cent, and as The Tablet went to press votes from Alaska were still being counted. Additionally, the Republicans are expected to add to their margin by winning a run-off election in Louisiana in December.

The election results represented a clear repudiation of President Barack Obama, as Democratic candidates were weighed down by the President’s sagging poll numbers. Traditionally, a president’s party loses some seats in the sixth-year mid-term elections, but the Democrats lost almost every close race this week.

The problems for Democrats were not all due to Mr Obama. Colorado’s incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Udall lost after running a campaign that focused on reproductive rights and access to contraception. Pundits dubbed him “Mark Uterus” because many of his television ads focused on the “war on women”. But Mr Udall’s margin among women dropped significantly from what Mr Obama achieved when he carried Colorado two years ago, a sign that Democrats will not have any more success running on “culture war” issues than Republicans did.

Several key governorship races also indicated a distaste for such issues. In Pennsylvania, Democrat Tom Wolf defeated incumbent Tom Corbett, who ran and governed as a Tea Party Republican. In Texas, Democrat Wendy Davis, who rose to fame by filibustering a bill aimed at restricting abortion, failed to garner 40 per cent of the vote against Republican governor Greg Abbott. Now, Republicans control both houses of Congress and can frustrate any presidential legislative agenda.

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