Fear fac­tor shakes Democrats’ hopes of hold­ing Se­nate

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY S.A. MILLER

As fear sweeps the na­tion about the prospect of Is­lamic State ter­ror­ists win­ning in Iraq and the Ebola virus spread­ing in the United States, Pres­i­dent Obama’s job ap­proval rat­ing is tak­ing a beat­ing, and some Democrats’ hopes for keep­ing the Se­nate majority are los­ing ground.

Sen. Kay R. Ha­gan of North Carolina, who en­tered the race as one of the most en­dan­gered Democrats but man­aged to hold a lead for most of the cam­paign sea­son, sud­denly was over­taken by Repub­li­can Thom Til­lis in a Sur­veyUSA poll, 46 per­cent to 45 per­cent.

In lib­eral-lean­ing New Hamp­shire, Repub­li­can Scott Brown has closed in on in­cum­bent Demo­crat Jeanne Shaheen. He trailed Ms. Shaheen 48 per­cent to 46 per­cent in a High Point/Sur­veyUSA poll.

“If the GOP picks up even one of th­ese seats, they’ll eas­ily take the Se­nate,” said Greg Val­liere, chief po­lit­i­cal strate­gist at Po­tomac Re­search Group.

He called the fear of the Is­lamic State and Ebola the “Oc­to­ber sur­prise” this year.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion’s per­pet­ual grap­pling with the ter­ror­ists and Ebola adds to Americans’ grow­ing dis­trust of Mr. Obama, es­pe­cially among Demo­cratic vot­ers dis­ap­pointed by the pres­i­dent’s fail­ure to ful­fill prom­ises to ease im­mi­gra­tion laws and to cre­ate the most trans­par­ent gov­ern­ment in his­tory.

Faith in Mr. Obama was fur­ther shaken by the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s decision to de­lay the start of the next Af­ford­able Care Act en­roll­ment pe­riod un­til after the Nov. 4 elec­tions, shield­ing Demo­cratic can­di­dates from the wrath of vot­ers who face mas­sive rate in­creases.

Repub­li­cans need a net gain of six seats to seize majority con­trol of the Se­nate. At least 10 Democratheld seats are in play, and three of them — in Mon­tana, South Dakota and West Vir­ginia — are all but cer­tain to flip Repub­li­can. Sev­eral elec­tion mod­els, in­clud­ing those of The New York Times and The Wash­ing­ton Post, have pre­dicted in re­cent days that Repub­li­cans will take the Se­nate.

Mr. Val­liere said it was dif­fi­cult to dis­cern how much the fear of the ter­ror­ist army and the deadly virus res­onated in races such as the one in New Hamp­shire.

“It surely doesn’t help the Democrats,” he said. “New Hamp­shire is one of those states that seem to track the pres­i­dent’s job ap­proval, and that has dropped fur­ther as the geopo­lit­i­cal crises per­co­late.”

The per­cent­age of Americans who dis­ap­prove of Mr. Obama’s job per­for­mance spiked to 54 per­cent Tues­day in the Gallup daily track­ing poll. That was the high­est dis­ap­proval score in the poll since Mr. Obama took of­fice in 2009.

His job ap­proval score dropped to 41 per­cent.

For weeks, Mr. Brown and Mr. Til­lis have made the Is­lamic State a cam­paign is­sue by ty­ing their Demo­cratic op­po­nents to Mr. Obama’s for­eign pol­icy strug­gles and what they de­scribe as Mr. Obama’s failed lead­er­ship.

Ms. Shaheen re­sponded in a re­cent de­bate by ac­cus­ing Mr. Brown of “po­lit­i­cal grand­stand­ing and fear­mon­ger­ing.”

Ms. Ha­gan coun­tered Mr. Til­lis, who is speaker of the North Carolina state House, with a TV ad that said he had “no mil­i­tary plan to take out ISIS,” one of the acronyms that refers to the Is­lamic State.

Can­di­dates from both par­ties are trad­ing jabs over fund­ing cuts at the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion and sug­gest­ing that they ham­pered the re­sponse to the Ebola cri­sis.

Repub­li­cans in­creas­ingly crit­i­cized their Demo­cratic ri­vals for stand­ing with the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion in re­fus­ing to im­pose a travel ban on West African coun­tries with Ebola out­breaks. Democrats mostly re­main silent on the is­sue.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has ar­gued that a travel ban would limit its abil­ity to fight the dis­ease at its source. Sev­eral prom­i­nent med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als, in­clud­ing pe­di­atric neu­ro­sur­geon and po­ten­tial 2016 Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial con­tender Ben Car­son, have chal­lenged that claim.

“The travel ban makes em­i­nent sense,” Mr. Car­son said on Fox News’ “Han­nity.”

An ABC News/Wash­ing­ton Post poll found that 67 per­cent of Americans support a travel ban on coun­tries with Ebola epi­demics and 91 per­cent back stricter screen­ings of peo­ple trav­el­ing to the U.S. from West Africa.

Mr. Brown and Mr. Til­lis have called for a travel ban, as have Repub­li­cans in key Se­nate races in Arkansas, Colorado, Michi­gan and Mon­tana.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.