Drive at the Midterms
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.
Aaron Eccles is a journalist on 5 live Drive