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News Analysis: U.S. Senate could change hands on "six year itch"

English.news.cn   2014-02-15 13:43:08

WASHINGTON, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama's sixth year in office has thus far been tough, and he and Democrats could fall victim to the "six year itch" -- political speak for presidents' historically troubled sixth year.

Indeed, the itch usually results in a loss of seats for the party in power, experts said, and that magic number this year is six seats for the Republican Party (GOP) to take back the Democratic-controlled Senate. The Republicans are currently in control of the House of Representatives.

The "six-year itch" phenomenon goes back several decades. "Six-year itch" Senate losses totaled four seats in 1966 and 1974, six years into the Kennedy-Johnson and Nixon-Ford administrations, and totaled six seats in the 2006 second midterms of George W. Bush's presidency, noted the National Journal.

Eight seats were lost in 1986, and 12 in the 1958 election. Going back further, there were a total of 72 seats lost in the House under President Franklin Roosevelt in 1938, the Journal noted.

"Do they (the GOP) have a shot at taking the Senate? I think they have a 50-50 chance at this point," Republican Strategist Ford O' Connell told Xinhua. "Really it all depends on who wins the primaries for the Republican Party. But right now it looks pretty close."

With Obama's popularity on the wane and many Americans dissatisfied with Obamacare and chronic high unemployment, Republicans led the Generic Congressional Vote by a hair -- 0.6 percent -- in Friday's Real Clear Politics average.

Christopher Galdieri, assistant professor at Saint Anselm College, told Xinhua the political terrain in the Senate races favors the GOP. Races in Montana, West Virginia and South Dakota will be extremely difficult for Democrats to win, and incumbents in Arkansas, North Carolina and Louisiana among other places are in what are likely to be tossup races.

Picking up those six seats would be enough for GOP control of the Senate unless Democrats manage to win in Kentucky and Georgia, Galdieri said.

Still, a GOP-controlled Senate is no guarantee for the party to win back the White House in 2016 against Democratic Party's possible candidate Hillary Clinton, former First Lady and Secretary of State in Obama's first term, experts said.

That is because U.S. voters in midterm Congressional elections tend to be white and conservative, whereas presidential races see many single women, minorities and young people -- typically among Democrats' base -- come out to cast their ballots.

Related:

News Analysis: U.S. Republicans could use Obamacare against Democrats in 2014 elections

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Republicans could use ongoing problems with President Barack Obama's healthcare rollout as fodder against Democrats ahead of this year's mid-term Congressional elections.

In the latest in a string of problems with the healthcare reform's rollout, the Obama administration on Monday announced a delay in the implementation of the president's signature healthcare overhaul, or Obamacare. Now, companies employing between 50 and 99 people will have until 2016 a one-year extension to offer health insurance to employees, a new requirement under the legislation. Full story

Editor: Bi Mingxin
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