Wednesday, January 20, 2010

US Republicans in upbeat mood after poll victories

What an anniversary gift. President Obama ends his first year in office with Republicans popping the champagne corks - celebrating a victory in Massachusetts they hope will be a harbinger of political gains to come.

A year ago the Democrats were talking about hope and history. President Obama's agenda was ambitious, and his legislative reach impressive.

They dreamed of remaking American government. They had to switch gears to help shore up the American economy.

And as of today, Democrats are licking their wounds - still the majority party in US politics, but stunned nevertheless by that electoral blow in Massachusetts.

Not promising

The next few days will be a critical test of President Obama's strategic abilities - and nerve. Will he be defiant, or conciliatory?

Will he come out fighting for his healthcare initiative in its present form, or back off, accepting that with this vote, he has now lost vital momentum?

He needs to have the answers - and deliver them convincingly - during his State of the Union speech next Wednesday.

What will he say about his healthcare initiative, and the rest of that ambitious agenda? How does he rephrase "hope and change" to the American public now?

Above all, he needs to know he still has strong backing from the US electorate.

He needs opinion poll figures that show the Democrats matching, or outstripping, their Republican rivals. And yet the numbers are not exactly promising.

The independent Pew Research Center reports that while marginally more registered voters intend to back the Democrats in November's Congressional elections, many more Republicans describe themselves as "enthusiastic".

No comments: