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US midterms: All eyes on small-town America


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US midterms: All eyes on small-town America

It is campaign season in America. As the November 4 midterm vote approaches, all eyes will be on small towns such as Fairfax, in Virginia.

Communities such as these will be key to shaping the final two years of Barack Obama’s presidency.

His approval ratings have plummeted; two thirds of polled voters now believe the US is on the wrong track.

One woman said “Americans are not trusting their government as much as they have in the past.”

While another Fairfax resident added:
“I think there is a certain uneasiness, a general sense among the supporters of the administration that things aren’t going well and that the president doesn’t seem to have control or interest or commitment.”

A local woman agreed:
“I don’t think they’re doing enough at all. That worries me, the Ebola worries me. I am very frightened for our country.”

There is no overriding campaign issue, except unhappiness with the established order.

Polls suggest the Republicans are likely to hold their majority in the House of Representatives. They also have a good chance of capturing the majority in the Senate (the upper house) from the Democrats.

If so, the institutional gridlock between Obama and Congress looks set to intensify.

Euronews spoke to Toni-Michelle Travis, an associate professor of Government and Politics at George Mason University.

“The economy improved, but it didn’t mean more jobs. So a number of people are still without work,” she commented. “The stock market is the shareholders, so that’s a different aspect, they are the ones benefitting there.”

One of the Senate seats Republicans have their eye on is Virginia. Once a staunchly conservative state, it has become a bellwether in recent elections.

Changing demographics and the growth of Washington DC suburbia saw Virginia vote twice for Obama and recently elect a Democratic governor.

Its two current senators are both Democrats, although one of them, Mark Warner, is up for re-election.

He has a tight race ahead of him against Ed Gillespie, a former chairman of the National Republican Party.

In a recent television debate, they sparred over national issues such as jobs, healthcare, immigration, abortions and the fight against ISIL.

After the debate, euronews asked Warner if he thinks the Democrats have a chance of keeping the Senate majority.

“I am focussed on one thing and that is this race and continuing to take my case to the people of Virginia,” he responded.

He may have ducked the question, but it might not be so easy to avoid the wrath of the US voters, as Stefan Grobe, euronews’ correspondent in Fairfax, noted:
“Despite strong economic numbers, there is a widespread feeling of uneasiness and insecurity in Virginia and the rest of the country. Many Americans believe that the Obama administration has underestimated crises like ISIL and Ebola, even the failings of the Secret Service. And for this, the Democrats may have to pay the price at the polls.”

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