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Obama braced for losses as US midterms go to wire

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U.S. President Barack Obama campaigning in Michigan over the weekend

U.S. President Barack Obama campaigning in Michigan over the weekend

U.S. President Barack Obama greets supporters after rallying for U.S. Representative Gary Peters (D-MI), candidate for U.S. Senate, and former U.S. Representative Mark Schauer (D-MI), candidate for governor of Michigan, at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan November 1, 2014.

U.S. President Barack Obama greets supporters after rallying for U.S. Representative Gary Peters (D-MI), candidate for U.S. Senate, and former U.S. Representative Mark Schauer (D-MI), candidate for governor of Michigan, at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan November 1, 2014.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at a re-election campaign rally for U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) in Nashua, New Hampshire November 2, 2014.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at a re-election campaign rally for U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) in Nashua, New Hampshire November 2, 2014.

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U.S. President Barack Obama campaigning in Michigan over the weekend

Democrats in the United States are bracing for a punishment in tomorrow's midterm elections, as voters express their dissatisfaction with President Obama, who mostly stayed away from the campaign trail for fear of sinking his party's chances.

Yet it will be a nail-biting night for candidates all over the country running for seats in the US Senate, the House of Representatives and state-wide offices, including governorships. The Republicans hope to pick up six seats in the US Senate to seize the majority from the Democrats and thus shatter the last bulwark protecting Mr Obama's agenda in the US Congress. But candidates in many key races that will decide the Senate majority remain razor-thin close.

Now, with the last speeches done and the final TV spots cut, it's all about getting out the vote. Republicans at the weekend poured money into Alaska, Georgia and Iowa in a bid to make sure every last supporter who hasn't voted early shows up at the polls.

Galvanising

Democrats were doing the same, galvanising their key blocks, including women and African Americans.

"There doesn't seem to be a lot of things for people to feel good about," said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University. "It may not be fair, but they tend to take those kinds of feelings out on the White House, and as a practical matter I think the Senate goes Republican." In the House, Republicans are expected to build on their majority of 233 seats to 199 for Democrats. They are also likely to retain their majority in the number of governors' seats they hold in state capitals. But the heavy campaign action has been in the 100-member Senate, where Republicans need to pick up six seats to reclaim the majority for the first time since the 2006 election. While Republicans are expected to gain seats, as many as eight to 10 Senate races are still considered toss-ups that could go either way.

Senate races with multiple candidates in Louisiana and Georgia, where the winner must get more than 50pc of the vote, could be forced into run-offs in December or January, respectively.

If Republicans do take control of the Senate, Mr Obama's last two years in office would be complicated by the prospect of even more partisan gridlock.

A Republican-led Senate would be likely to push ahead with approval of the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline, chip away at provisions in Mr Obama's signature healthcare law, and rewrite tax laws.

Mr Obama has largely been restricted to Democratic fundraising events, although he has headlined events in friendly states such as Maine, Rhode Island and Michigan. "I'm not on the ballot this time and this is the last election cycle in which I'm involved as president," said Obama. "Look, it makes you a little wistful, because I do like campaigning. It's fun," he said.

"The only way Democrats are going to win in the end is if they remind voters that all politics are local," said Democratic strategist Jim Manley.

"What's happened is we've seen the country lurch from crisis to crisis and confidence in the president and Washington as an institution has eroded," he added. © Independent News Service

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