Washington Extra – Slipping away

October 13, 2010

congress1The Democrats’ chances of retaining control of the House of Representatives are slipping away. Our latest Reuters/Ipsos poll suggests that Republicans are poised to win around 227 seats and Democrats about 208 seats in next month’s election. Unemployment is top of the agenda for voters, and there is no good news coming on that front between now and November 2 (the next reading on the jobless rate doesn’t even come until the Friday after the election). That means there is very little chance that Democrats can pull off a late surge.

Also slipping away is President Barack Obama’s approval rating, to a new low in our poll, with much of the decline coming from his own Democratic supporters. His handling of the economy remains a leading cause of the drop. Again, any hope of energizing the Democratic base now looks slim.

More interesting is the race for control of the Senate. Ipsos says the poll numbers suggest Democrats will win 52 seats to 48 seats for the Republicans, the same margin predicted by the poll of polls compiled by Real Clear Politics. But a number of races are still very close.

Here are our top stories from Washington today…

Republicans likely to take House at election

American voters unhappy at high unemployment are set to oust Democrats from control of the House of Representatives in November, a Reuters-Ipsos poll projected. The national poll found that Americans plan to vote for Republicans over Democratic candidates by 48 percent to 44 percent, an edge that will likely give Republicans around 227 seats in the House to 208 for the Democrats.

For more of this story by Steve Holland, read here.

For a graphic showing the poll results, click here.

For a factbox on Senate poll averages from Real Clear Politics, click here.

States probe mortgage industry practices

All 50 U.S. states launched a joint investigation of the mortgage industry, a move some experts fear may slow sales of foreclosed homes and threaten the recovery of the fragile housing market. The state attorneys general are looking at allegations some banks did not properly review files or submitted false statements to evict delinquent borrowers from their homes during a foreclosure crisis that is one of the most visible wounds of the recession.

For more of this story by Corbett Daly and Elinor Comlay, click here.

U.S. campaign taps fears about job outsourcing

Hoping to tap into deep voter anxiety about unemployment and the stumbling economy, candidates in both parties have launched a wave of new attacks accusing rivals of helping ship jobs overseas. The raging ad war reflects the high stakes for both parties in a campaign dominated by the high unemployment rate. A recent poll found voters believe the shift of U.S. jobs to foreign countries was the biggest reason the economy has struggled.

For more of this story by John Whitesides, read here.

U.S. allows more ethanol in gasoline for newer cars

The U.S. government on Wednesday approved a 50 percent boost in the amount of ethanol in gasoline for newer cars, a decision that could help Democrats in the Midwest corn-growing states but be opposed by food companies, automakers and environmentalists.

For more of this story by Tom Doggett, click here

U.S. clean energy sector buffeted by U.S. election winds

In a large Atlantic City conference hall bustling with entrepreneurs in the renewable energy sector, Parker Hadlock offered a blunt assessment of the industry. “I am scared to death that I’ve spent a couple years of my life dedicating a lot of time to this business and it really isn’t going to come together in my lifetime,” said Hadlock, an advocate of wind energy. Political uncertainty is roiling an industry once brimming with promise.

For more of this story by Russell Blinch and Ayesha Rascoe, read here.

US SEC starts policing opaque derivatives market

The SEC took its first stab at policing the $615 trillion over-the-counter derivatives market with a plan to mitigate conflicts of interests at venues that will handle the swaps. “This proposed rule is intended to make these entities less susceptible to promoting the interests of a few participants to the potential detriment of others,” SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro said.

For more of this story by Rachelle Younglai, read here.

Senate poised to follow House on China yuan -Baucus

The Senate is poised to follow the House of Representatives in passing legislation aimed at pressuring China to raise the value of its currency, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said in a speech in Beijing.

For more of this story, read here.

NATO facilitating Taliban contacts with Afghan govt

NATO-led coalition forces in Afghanistan are facilitating contacts in Kabul between senior Taliban officials and the Afghan government, a senior NATO official said. But the official, who spoke to reporters in Brussels on condition of anonymity, said discussions were in their very early stages and could not yet be described as negotiations.

For more of this story by Phil Stewart, read here.

U.S. steps up military-civilian cyber defense coordination

President Obama’s administration announced steps to boost civil-military coordination against cyber threats said to be mounting against sensitive U.S. computer networks.

For more of this story by Jim Wolfe, read here.

Court considers Texas death row DNA case

In a case with broad implications for states with the death penalty, the Supreme Court considered whether a Texas death row inmate should be allowed to use civil rights law to gain access to DNA evidence that could prove his innocence in a triple murder..

For more of this story by David Morgan, read here.

What we are blogging…

Hillary Clinton stops to see Bill’s statue in Kosovo

Hillary Clinton, on her first visit to Kosovo as secretary of state, stopped and looked up at Bill — now 12 feet high and a shimmering gold — and expressed her satisfaction with the likeness. She then plunged into the crowd, or at least as far as security would allow, pressing the flesh campaign-style and expressing her delight at being back in Kosovo as an independent country.

For Andrew Quinn’s full post, click here.

From elsewhere….

Humpback whale sets travel record: researchers

A female humpback whale traveled more than 6,000 miles from Brazil to Madagascar, setting a world record for a migrating mammal, researchers reported. “While humpback whales regularly travel 5,000 km between breeding and feeding grounds, they are commuters, not adventurers,” the team wrote.

For more of this story, read here.

And for a live video feed of the rescue of Chile’s trapped miners, click here.

For more stories from our Washington correspondents visit www.reuters.com and stay informed.

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (Mexican President Felipe Calderon arrives to address a joint meeting of Congress in the U.S. Capitol May 20, 2010)

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