Washington Extra – Midterm, one-term?

November 1, 2010

As we approach half-time in his presidency, just over half of Americans believe Barack Obama will not win re-election in 2012. Our final Reuters/Ipsos poll showed just one-third of those surveyed still thought President Obama would win a second term. An amazing transformation in the national mood in less than two years since the inauguration.

BRITAIN ECLIPSEA 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll found 39 percent of those surveyed believe Obama should be a one-term president, compared to 26 percent who wanted a second term and 33 percent who were unsure.

But as that oracle of election wisdom (my barber) observed to me today, for all the polls Obama’s chances in 2012 may come down to just one number. The jobless rate. Anything over 8 percent in 2012, and it will be a huge uphill battle for the president, Curtis predicted. Six percent and he stands a chance. Wise words indeed.

Finally today, and now that sanity (and/or fear) has been restored to these elections, we can end with some irony.

Our poll showed Obama scoring best for his performance on the war in Iraq, one achievement which arguably had more to do with his predecessor than him.

Obama’s worst scores? On the economy, the deficit and taxes, of course. No matter that the financial crisis hit on George W. Bush’s watch, that the federal tax burden has fallen in the past two years or that the seeds of the deficit problem were, according to Democrats at least, sown by the previous administration.

These are Obama’s problems now, and these polls suggest he needs to solve them if he is going to have any chance of a second term.

Here are our top stories from Washington today…

POLL-Republicans poised to win House, gain in Senate

Americans are poised to hand control of the House of Representatives to Republicans in elections that are shaping up as a rebuke of President Obama, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found. Republicans are likely to win some 231 seats in the House and take control of the chamber, the poll projected. Ipsos pollster Cliff Young predicted Democrats would hang on to the Senate with either 52 seats to 48 for Republicans or 53-47.

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

For an interview with Ipsos pollster Cliff Young on Reuters Insider television, click here.

For a factbox on poll closing times, click here.

For a Q&A on likely election results and their impact, by John Whitesides, read here.

For scenarios on possible outcomes of the election, by Thomas Ferraro, read here.

Budget woes may cause US swap rule delays-Gensler

Gary Gensler, the Washington regulator Wall Street fears most, is confident he’ll get a complex morass of rules in place to lessen risk in derivatives trading and curb speculation in commodities. “The opportunity here is enormous,” he said, just ahead of a meeting with “the swap dealers definition team,” a half-dozen staffers carrying in stacks of documents. “This is like the 1930s for the Securities and Exchange Commission. I mean, I am just tickled pink.”

For more of this exclusive story, by Roberta Rampton and Jack Reerink, read here.

Obama renews Sudan sanctions, keeps pressure on vote

President Obama renewed sanctions against Sudan’s government, keeping pressure on Khartoum to stick to the timetable for a referendum that could split the country in two. But Washington also held out for the prospect for reconsidering its tough approach if Sudanese leaders make progress in resolving the country’s bitter north-south dispute and improving the situation in the troubled Darfur region.

For more of this story, read here.

White House seeks South Korea trade deal before Seoul meet

The United States and South Korea are trying to resolve beef and auto concerns blocking U.S. congressional approval of a free-trade pact by Nov. 10, before President Obama meets with President Lee Myung-bak in Seoul on Nov. 11.

For more of this story by Patricia Zengerle, read here,


Lockheed F-35 faces more delays, cost hikes-sources

Lockheed Martin’s new fighter jet may be delayed by up to three years and its development cost could increase by up to $5 billion, sources familiar with the program said. The latest delays stem from problems with software development for the new radar-evading fighter, and issues with the short takeoff and landing Marine Corps version of the new fighter. The cost increase is linked mainly to demands by Pentagon testing officials for additional testing before the plane can be used on the battlefield.

US battle brews over Canada oil pipeline

The State Department is weighing whether a $7 billion pipeline would be necessary to bolster energy security — the oil would slash dependence on imports from Venezuela and Middle Eastern countries. The EPA, however, is worried about greenhouse gas emissions from production of Canada’s tarry oil sands and that the oil flow could undermine plans to make cars more efficient and to electrify more vehicles in coming decades.

For scenarios on how the plan could play out, by Timothy Gardner, read here.

US construction spending rises on public projects

U.S. construction spending rose unexpectedly in September as investment in public projects touched the highest level in more than a year, a government report showed. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast construction spending falling 0.5 percent in September.

For more of this story, read here.

What we are blogging…

Steven Chu: Energy Secretary, Nobel Laureate, Zombie

You sort of have to like a U.S. cabinet secretary and Nobel Prize winner who knows how to have a little fun while getting out a message. Take Steven Chu, who posted a picture of himself as a green-faced, blood-dripping zombie on his Facebook page. Just in time for Halloween weekend, Chu used his own zombification as a platform to point out power-sucking appliances — energy vampires, he called them. “Garlic doesn’t work against these vampires,” Chu wrote. “But by taking some simple steps – like using power strips or setting your computer to go into sleep mode – you can protect yourself, and your wallet.”

For Deborah Zabarenko’s full post, read here.


Is this the most negative campaign ever?

If you think political ads on TV this year are more negative than ever, here’s some data to back up that observation. The Wesleyan Media Project  says in a new report that in the last few weeks it has charted a “large uptick in negative ads.” In the final stages of the midterm contests, the group concluded that 2010 turned out to be “the most negative campaign in recent history by both sides,” with “a marked increase in negativity as the general election season has heated up and drawn close to Election Day.”

For Mark Hosenball’s full post, read here.

From elsewhere…


Dentists offer Halloween candy buyback program

Just a day after Halloween two Pennsylvania dentists are offering a candy buyback program to save the teeth of young trick-or-treaters and boost the morale of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For more of this story, read here.

Photo credit: Reuters/John Pryke (performance artist holds flaming torch and crystal ball)

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