White House Lays Blame on Voters’ Dissatisfaction with Congress as it Anticipates Election Day Rout

A campaign sign is pictured in Wells, Maine November 3, 2014. (CREDIT: REUTERS/BRIAN SNYDER)
A campaign sign is pictured in Wells, Maine November 3, 2014. (CREDIT: REUTERS/BRIAN SNYDER)

With many races still tight but polls showing a general trend in favor of Republicans, the White House on Monday blamed voter dissatisfaction with Washington for what could be an Election Day rout for President Barack Obama’s Democrats.

Both parties pushed to get voters to the polls in a final effort to sway the electorate ahead of Tuesday’s election, which could shift control of the U.S. Senate and upend policy priorities for the last two years of Obama’s final term.

The president, who spent the weekend campaigning in Michigan, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, stayed in Washington on Monday and met with Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen about the U.S. and global economy.

Obama will face pressure to make changes at the White House if his party loses across the board. A Reuters/Ipsos poll showed 75 percent of respondents believed the administration needs to “rethink” how it approaches major issues facing the United States ( bit.ly/1ph8sLs ). Sixty-four percent said Obama should replace some of his senior staff after the election ( bit.ly/1rTVVbb ).

White House spokesman Josh Earnest played down the prospect of major firings.

“At this point, I don’t anticipate that will happen,” he told a briefing. He said a key factor driving the election was “frustration with the failure of Washington, D.C., to put in place policies that are helpful to middle-class families.”

Vice President Joe Biden told CNN in an interview broadcast on Monday that he expected Democrats would hold the Senate and dismissed suggestions that the White House would have to change the way it does business.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll showed respondents wanted the administration to “refocus” on tax reform, the Islamic State, immigration reform, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Iran’s nuclear program, income inequality, Israeli-Palestinian peace and tensions between Ukraine and Russia, in that order.

Voters elect 36 senators, all 435 members of the House of Representatives and 36 state governors on Tuesday. Control of the Senate may not be clear, though, for some weeks, depending on the outcomes of races in Georgia and Louisiana that could spur runoffs.

Democrats had hoped a superior get-out-the-vote effort, which helped Obama win the White House in 2012, would offset apathy among their core constituency groups, which have a history of sitting out non-presidential elections.

But the Republican Party has stepped up its “ground game.” Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said volunteers would keep knocking on doors until polls closed.

“We’ve completely revamped our ground game, and nearly all of our time and resources have gone toward expanding the electorate by persuading and turning out voters who typically don’t vote and turning them out as early as possible,” she said.

Democrats sent out an email from first lady Michelle Obama, who is much more popular than her husband, urging supporters to get to the polls.

“With Election Day coming up tomorrow, right now is your time to make your biggest impact by getting out the vote, so Democrats can win crucial elections,” she wrote.

Republicans must pick up six Senate seats and retain those they have to reclaim the majority from Democrats and control both chambers of Congress. Polls show several races are toss-ups.

One is in New Hampshire, where Republican Scott Brown is challenging incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen.

A WMUR/University of New Hampshire poll put Shaheen, a first-term U.S. senator and former governor, leading by 49 percent to 48 percent, while a New England College survey showed Brown, a former U.S. senator from Massachusetts, ahead by 49 percent to 48 percent.

Races in Colorado, North Carolina, Kansas, Iowa and Alaska are also tight.

(Additional reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Caren Bohan and Doug Royalty)


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