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Drive at the Midterms

Aaron Eccles | 17:45 UK time, Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Americans go to the polls next week in elections that could see President Obama's Democrats lose control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. That's right, it's time for the midterms. Thirty-seven US Senate seats, 37 governorships and all 435 House of Representatives seats will be up for grabs on 2 November. Of course, President Obama's name isn't on any of the ballots, but polls suggest voters plan to send him a message by booting dozens of his party colleagues out of office.

To help explain some of the headlines, Drive will be coming live from Florida for two days next week. Not only is it a key battleground state that can decide a Presidential election (and has on many occasions), it has all the makings of a political soap opera playing out at state level.

In 2008, Florida narrowly voted Democrat and helped secure President Obama's victory. But since then the economy has been suffering. Figures from September show the state has an 11.8% unemployment rate. The housing market still hasn't recovered from the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Seventy-five houses are repossessed every day. And even though only a small amount of oil from the BP disaster actually reached Florida's shores, the perception that coastal waters and beaches are polluted kept tourists and their dollars away in droves this year. All of this has resulted in a great deal of voter anger and a disapproval rating for President Obama in Florida which is hovering around the 51% mark.

It's a perfect place for the Tea Party to flourish. Tea Partiers believe in lower taxes, balanced budgets and reduced spending. The movement sprung up in the aftermath of Obama's election and has gathered steam as anger grows about his administration's health care reforms and financial stimulus package. It was Tea Party support that secured Marco Rubio the Republican nomination for the senate in Florida.

He beat the favourite candidate, the moderate Republican governor Charlie Crist, who is now running as an independent. Mr Rubio is now being dubbed the Republican Obama. He's a young, conservative Cuban American with relatively little political experience. Since getting his party's nod, he's been leading the polls and appearing at campaign rallies with Tea Party sweetheart Sarah Palin. And with Democrat Senate contender Kendrick Meek still hoping for an upset, you have a three-way race that looks set to be one of the most interesting stories in this election.

Next Tuesday and Wednesday, Aasmah Mir will be co-presenting Drive from Miami. She'll be talking to campaigners and voters from across the state. And she'll try to get a sense of why so many of President Obama's supporters in 2008 seem to have turned against him in 2010.

Related Links
Drive - best bits and a week of programmes on iPlayer

US Midterms - full coverage of News Online

Aaron Eccles is a journalist on 5 live Drive


  • Comment number 1.

    Why is Drive going? Couldn't this be more cost effectively handled by a Washington BBC correspondent? I am sure the brilliant Rhod Sharp will have the best coverage from his home in Boston.

    Oh, and I am sure the normal standards of BBC impartiality and political neuturality will be upheld like the last time Drive covered am Amercian election. Remember Anita? http://order-order.com/2009/01/20/one-last-encore/

  • Comment number 2.

    So in the first paragraph we are told that this is NOT a presidential election but in the second that they are going to Florida because it is a key battleground state in presedential elections. Rightho.

    Nothing whatsoever to do with the rather clement weather at this time of year?

    I sincerely hope that this is the last time we will ever hear Radio5Live bleat about carbon emissions or parliamentarians bloated salaries, junkets and expense accounts.

  • Comment number 3.

    It's another Buggins' turn job. All the other 5live presenters have had their day in the sun this year.

  • Comment number 4.

    Disgusting. What are the BBC US correspondents for, if not for this?

  • Comment number 5.

    This after sending countless useless BBC employees to Chile for the mine rescue when they only needed the fluent Spanish speaker, Matt Frei.

  • Comment number 6.

    - a couple of simple folk, red-necks and nobodies - sat round a diner talking nothing we don't already know and then Pete says it's hot and reads some inneundo texts and says Uhm. Great value.

  • Comment number 7.

    As part of this season leading up to the Mid-Terms, there was a fascinating piece about health care and how Obama has changed how it will be run, in his major impact legislation. Except this was presented by Rhod as a special report on Dotun's programme.

    They didn't really need to send anyone extra when they have the people on the ground.

    What does Aasmah know about it that the BBC people over there couldn't share with us? And why should Pienaar go when there are loads of BBC people in DC?

  • Comment number 8.

    How much of our money did 5Live waste on this exercise? Brilliant Rhod Sharp and Jon Pinnear where more then adequate and capable. There was no need to Aasmah to have have holiday at our expense. Little sign of the age of austerity at the BBC.


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