Midterm elections could offer little partisan relief

Rewind to 2008: Barack Obama was elected by one of the widest margins ever in a presidential election. He wiped out John McCain and a super-majority of 60 Democratic senators was elected. Voters were frustrated that after eight years of having a Republican in the White House, there were two wars, an economic recession, growing health premiums, an illegal immigration problem, a changing world environment and a national debt.

In the campaign, Obama had solutions to all those problems, and people were confident that he would change politics and turn this country around. People who had never voted Democrat before voted for him, and Republicans were down and out.

Return to the present: There was no way Obama could have pleased everyone, and voters still see unaddressed issues. Obama came into office and inherited one of the biggest messes that any president has ever had to deal with.

Nonetheless, the economy has not turned around fast enough for voters, and they are primed to elect a new crop of congressmen to Washington. This time, Republicans have momentum and are poised to, they think, make some gains in Congress.

With a week to go before election day, Republicans will gain a majority in the House of Representatives, while Democrats will maintain control of the Senate.

Because of the split Congress, legislative gridlock could win out. It is unlikely that the parties will be able to agree on much of anything. Republicans have offered little in the way of a plan or agenda if they gain power. Their “Plan for America” was little more than a regurgitation of their failed 1994 “Contract with America,” according to most political analysts. They will, however, be able to block most of the Democrats’ agenda with control of just one house, and they have shown that no matter what is proposed, they will not vote for a Democrat’s bill.

Voters are begging for partisan solutions from Washington, but the elections could cause more partisanship than ever before.

If the Republicans regain control of one house, according to Democratic leaders, they want to work together with Republicans to create a plan to stimulate the job market and create more jobs in the private and public sectors.

The Tea Party movement has gained strength over the past few months, but according to projections from FiveThirtyEight.com, a New York Times political blog, only three Tea Party candidates will actually win their races.

The perceived Republican momentum can be attributed to the same thing that Democrats used to win in 2008: an enthusiasm gap. There is a big gap between the enthusiasm of Republican voters than Democratic voters, and Obama has been trying to excite voters in recent weeks.

According to FiveThirtyEight.com projections, Democrats will maintain 53 seats in the Senate, while Republicans will have 47. In the House, Democrats will hold 211 seats, while Republicans will hold 224.

It will be very interesting to see how Obama operates after the midterm elections. Political analysts agree that about 90 days after the midterms, we will know who Obama really is and how he will react. Obama does not need to worry about his legacy or 2012. He will have plenty of time to shape his legacy, and he will not need to make a speech to tell us about it because we will already be watching.

Alex Apple is a freshman political science and journalism double major from Nashville, Tenn.