Monday, November 1, 2010

Democrats stump for candidates as crucial election looms

President Obama is off the campaign trail ahead of midterm elections, but plenty of other top Democrats will be making a last-minute push for party candidates around the country Monday.

Vice President Joe Biden plans to stump for Vermont gubernatorial candidate Peter Shumlin and speak at a rally for Delaware Democratic candidates. First lady Michelle Obama will hit the campaign trail at a get-out-the-vote rally with Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada. And President Bill Clinton has scheduled stops in West Virginia, Kentucky and Florida.

All 435 House seats and 37 of the 100 Senate seats, along with almost 40 gubernatorial races, are at stake in Tuesday's midterm elections.

And Democrats are on the defensive, as poll results suggest that Republicans are poised to control Congress.

A majority of Americans think that the Republicans will control Congress after Tuesday's midterm elections, and a majority of registered voters say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who opposes President Obama, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Sunday.According to the poll, 51 percent of the public thinks the GOP will win back control of Congress on Tuesday, with 36 percent saying the Democrats will retain control.

Another new national poll released Sunday indicates that Republicans have a 10-point lead over the Democrats in a crucial indicator in the battle for control of Congress.

The GOP's 10-point advantage in the "generic ballot" question in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national survey released Sunday is slightly larger than the seven-point advantage Republican candidates had on the eve of the 1994 midterms, when the party last took control of Congress from the Democrats.

But Illinois Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin seemed cautiously optimistic about the state of play in his chamber when he spoke with CNN Saturday.

"I think we keep our majority," Durbin said, though he would not speculate on how many seats Democrats would wind up having.

In private conversations over the past few days, however, other senior advisers to Obama have been more blunt about how difficult it will be for Democrats to hold onto control of Congress.

Two senior Democratic officials privately said they think control of the House is "gone," and they added that the majority in the Senate is teetering right now because of continued worries about whether incumbents like Reid and Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state can hold on.

In his final campaign speech before the elections, Obama on Sunday implored Democrats to get out and vote.

With his party expected to lose seats in both chambers, and perhaps its House majority, Obama told a rally at Cleveland State University that the only way to ensure continued policies intended to help working-class Americans was to keep Democrats in power.

"The journey we began together was never just about putting a president in the White House," he said, adding that if everyone who voted for him in 2008 turns out to support Democratic candidates on Tuesday, "we will win."