Sunday, October 17, 2010

Real Change? Yes We Can

With election season in full swing, this November Republicans are certain to win back the House of Representatives. Not a foregone conclusion was the fate of the Senate. Not even imagined just months ago, the reality is now becoming evident. Win 10 net seats and Senate control rests in the hands of the GOP. Seven seem assured, but obstacles in states such as California, Nevada, Illinois and Washington have Nancy Pelosi pondering her future after January 3rd next year.

Washington state seems to be the Republicans achilles heel. Some polls show incumbent Senator (D) Patti Murray exceeding her Republican opponent Dino Rossi by as many as 15 points. Others show a statistical dead heat. Results vary so much because most voters in the state mail in their ballot. One of the crucial issues that could decide the race is the inclusion of an income tax the state does not currently have. Most voters obviously are opposed to the legislation. Perhaps Rossi can drill that point home and upset Murray who is seeking a fourth consecutive term.

Nevada seems the most perplexing of the four. Harry Reid, aiming for a fifth successive term, is in a surprising deadlock with Republican Sharron Angle. The Senate Majority Leader since 2007 in a tight race with a practical newcomer speaks volumes about the sentiment voters across Nevada feel. The state which sports the worst unemployment rate in the country at more than 14%, has voters concerned. That topic dominated the only debate the two had this week. Reid believes that government is a better job creator while Angle is a private sector proponent. To demonstrate how astonishing and captivating this race is journalists from around the world came to cover the debate.

Illinois garners spotlight because it will fill the Senate seat left vacant by President Obama. An upset their would be not only a political blow but also a psychological one for Democrats. The contest between Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Mark Kirk seems destined for a photo finish. Polls their show a very close encounter, with the race getting ugly as the two paint economic and military scandals on one another. Kirk, an underdog of massive proportion, is fighting a battle in a state that Obama won with 62% of the vote in the 2008 Presidential election. Maybe that explains his multiple campaign visits to the state to support Giannoulias. Kirk who describes himself as a fiscal conservative and Giannoulias a liberal Democrat will probably have to wait until after that first Tuesday in November to find out who will emerge victorious.

California represents a difficult proposition for the GOP as the long serving Barbara Boxer faces off with former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. Fiorina has been gaining steadily in recent polls and her fundraising notably has matched her Democratic opponent. In liberal San Francisco (Boxer's home district), The Chronicle newspaper declining to endorse either candidate speaks volumes to Boxer's vulnerability. Fiorina has declared the state's fiscal situation as dire and seeks to cut government spending and decreasing taxes. Boxer tagged as one of the most liberal Senators still holds a slight edge over Fiorina. Yet another nail biter of a race that should have political junkies salivating the results.

Some media outlets are already conceding a Democratic defeat for control of the Senate and how it can be good for Obama. A bit premature, but completely possible. They draw the parallel of what happened when the Republicans in 1994 took control of the Senate in mid term elections during President Clintons first term. Clinton went on to enjoy record popularity and economic expansion. The only caveat was Republicans were in control and were directly responsible for the good fortune the President relished. The media is trying to have it both ways. Good if the Democrats keep command of the Senate, good if they do not. Suprised by the media's flip flopping? Hardly.

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