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Presidents and mid-term elections

It's no secret that right now there are several crises, domestic and international, affecting the United States. How President Obama handles them will affect his Democrat colleagues when they run for office this fall, especially if they are incumbents.

But all incumbents will suffer this fall just by being incumbents in a year when people are tired of the current situation. Democrat incumbents will face the toughest challenges, with some forecasters predicting that at least 10 seats in the Senate will become Republican this fall.

Interestingly, George W. Bush very successfully campaigned for Senators and Representatives in the mid-year elections of 2002, increasing the majority slightly. His popularity ratings were very high.

President Obama is not as fortunate. His popularity ratings are suffering, and already gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia resulted in Republican governors. He campaigned for Arlen Specter, Senator from Pennsylvania, but Specter lost the primary to Joe Sestak, who had been a Representative from Pennsylvania.

How much can election results be blamed on a President? That's impossible to say, but "guilt by association" is a powerful tool. Obama as a candidate used John McCain's own words against him when McCain was quoted as saying that he voted with George W. Bush over 90% of the time. Nevermind what the votes were actually about. No one ever reported on that.

This may be a year when our elected officials will truly have to answer for the votes they've made, including Republicans. That's fine with me--I think that the Republicans have a good defense of their "no" votes.

As the economy continues to slog along, and as other problems linger on, people feel like things are not getting better. It then becomes more difficult for the President to say that his policies are working because the general perception is the opposite. And he may drag down some Democrats with him, which will definitely affect his ability to push through his agenda. To this point, the Democrat majority has made his job easier, but it may be about to change this fall.

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