|By DONNA CASSATA, Associated Press|
With less than 10 weeks to the elections, Republicans and Democrats who assess the nationwide contests say the power of incumbency trumps the sour public mood and antipathy toward gridlocked
"Despite the incredibly low polling, favorable ratings for
That leaves many voters angry, not only with the political reality but their inability to change it.
"I can't get over where they say people are going to be able to keep their seats when they're not doing their jobs. I just don't understand it," said retired teacher
The voter disgust is palpable, evident in blistering comments at summertime town hall meetings with lawmakers and middling percentages for incumbents in primaries. Yet no sitting senator has lost and only three members of the House got the boot in primary election contests. Come
Congressional hopefuls are whipsawed by the two dynamics.
"It's going to be a challenge for any candidate running for
Still, the candidates press ahead.
Republicans are laser-focused on gaining the six seats needed to grab the
Republicans figures they ares halfway to their goal, with a solid advantage in open contests in
In the House, Republicans are expected to pad their majority, which now is 233-199 with three vacancies. The goal is to match or surpass the 246 seats the Republicans held from 1947-49.
Fueling the battle is what's expected to be a record flow of campaign cash. The parties' campaign committees and their allied outside groups are spending at a rate certain to exceed the
Democrats lost 63 House seats in the 2010 election and their majority to Republicans. But Republicans do not expect a comparable sweep in 2014 simply because redistricting reduced the number of opportunities. On that, Democrats agree, though an Obama decision on immigration could change the dynamic. Obama is considering steps to defer deportations for millions of people in the U.S. illegally in the absence of legislation from
As the election campaign season hits the final months, fewer than two dozen House Democrats and Republicans are in real jeopardy in November.
Republicans are counting on opposition to Obama to motivate the party's core voters. To counter, Democrats have sent 444 organizers to 48 districts to get out the vote. An additional 250-plus are ready for the September-to-November sprint as the party typically faces a drop-off in voting in non-presidential year elections.
It's an uphill fight as the president's party typically loses seats in a non-presidential election year.
At a meeting last month with small business owners and workers at a wood fabricating plant in
"I'm wondering, especially when it comes to Obamacare, how the House is going to start holding the president accountable for making law out of whole cloth?" Appel asked, referring to Obama's signature health care reform legislation.
"It's not that we wouldn't like to, it's a matter of what we can do," Pitts responded. "You need the House, the
As staff urged the attendees to vote, Appel erupted in frustration: "I voted for
Pitts said in an interview that it's up to lawmakers to educate voters about the limits of divided government.
"I share their frustration," Pitts said. "I understand they're not as involved so they don't understand a lot of it, but they have a responsibility to turn out next time if they're concerned, because there are real consequences to these elections in public policy."
Democratic incumbents have cast themselves as outsiders as they sympathize with hostile voters.
New York Rep.
One voter asked him whether, if the
"If you're expecting cataclysmic change immediately, I think that's a bit beyond expectations," Perry said.
EDITOR'S NOTE _
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