Obama re-election hopes hit after loss of 'safe' seat
Published 15/09/2011 | 05:00
President Barack Obama's re-election prospects have been dealt a double blow after Democrats lost a congressional seat they had held since 1923 and figures put poverty in America at its highest level since records began.
The loss of the seat in New York's Ninth District was especially damaging because it could be largely put down to Mr Obama's unpopularity. Democrats are now publicly blaming Mr Obama for their plight.
Representative Steny Hoyer, the party's House of Representatives whip, said that "every election reflects on the person in charge". He added: "Do I think it will be interpreted as being a statement on Obama? That's probably correct."
According to Politico, an influential website, Democratic donors and strategists commiserated over their disappointment in Mr Obama during a high-level conference call on Tuesday. One source said the mood was "awful" and people felt "betrayed, disappointed, furious, disgusted, hopeless".
Open rebellion against Mr Obama appears to have been held off for now, in large part due to his reinvigorated performance in Congress last week and his determined push to pass a $447bn (€325bn) job-creation bill.
In the New York election, Bob Turner (70), a retired cable television executive who has never served in elected office, coasted to victory by eight points, defeating David Weprin (55), a state assemblyman with two decades of experience.
The seat was vacated by Representative Anthony Weiner after the married congressman admitted he had lied about sending intimate photographs of himself to young women.
Public Policy Polling, a Left-leaning polling firm, found that Mr Obama's approval rating in the Democratic stronghold was 31pc, with an unpopularity figure of 56pc. It noted: "Amazingly bad in a district where he won 55pc of the vote in 2008."
Meanwhile, the US Census Bureau has reported that 46 million Americans were living in poverty last year, the highest number since the statistics began 52 years ago.
Democrats, already panicked that unemployment is stuck at 9.1pc, fear the figures could provoke another disastrous election in 2012, following the party's historic drubbing last November.
The New York election also turned on Mr Obama's handling of the Israel-Palestinian issue. Much of the district's large Jewish contingent opposes his proposal for Palestinian statehood drawn around 1967 borders. (© Daily Telegraph, London)