On Election Day, Democratic control is on the line

November 2, 2010

By CALVIN WOODWARD, Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The Democratic Congress that enacted PresidentBarack Obama’s far-reaching health care law and plowed staggering sums into economic relief is at risk Tuesday in an election that promises to shake up the political order across the nation.

Republicans buoyantly forecast a new era of divided government, two years after Democrats sealed victory in the presidency, the House and the Senate and set about reshaping the agenda in a time of severe recession and war. Democrats did not seriously dispute expectations that they would lose the House this time, even while campaigning through the final hours to stem losses.

His campaign travels over, Obama was taping interviews with radio hosts in Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Honolulu and Miami as well as one with Ryan Seacrest of “American Idol” for his national radio show, all for broadcast Tuesday as Americans vote. In one interview he pulled back from earlier remarks calling Republicans “enemies” of Hispanics.

Democrats tend to be strong closers, with a vaunted operation by the party, Obama’s organizers and unions to get supporters to voting sites on Election Day. This time, they faced a ground game infused by thetea party, less polished than the other side but full of energy.

The midterm elections are a prime-time test for that loosely knit and largely leaderless coalition, a force unheard of just two years ago. Tea party supporters rattled the Republican establishment in the primaries, booting out several veteran lawmakers and installing more than 70 candidates, nearly three dozen of whom are in competitive races Tuesday.

If successful, that conservative movement could come to Washington as a firewall against expansive federal spending, immigration liberalization and more, as well as a further threat to the historic health care law that Republicans hope somehow to roll back.

In Thornton, Colo., on Monday, coffee and leftover Halloween candy fueled volunteers at campaign offices of both Senate candidates, Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet and Republican Ken Buck. Republican helper Susan Nalbone, 55, a retired schoolteacher who was phoning voters, said her side was dispirited in 2008. Not now.

“This is more intense,” she said. “I know that elections are all important, all a big deal, but this one feels especially important to people.”

At Bennet’s office, LuAnn Lind, 52, a nurse, said she’s been volunteering for Democrats for years and finding it harder now to fire people up. “It’s a little less urgent among the people I’m talking to,” Lind said. “I’m telling them: ‘We don’t want to lose ground now. We want to keep the Obama momentum moving forward.'”

To read more, visit: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_campaign_rdp

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