Readers Identify Issues, Preferences for Upcoming Elections

Readers predict Democrats will take over control of the legislative branch in November.

This November, Americans will go to the polls in nationwide elections. While this is not a presidential election year, the decisions voters make will have an impact on government policies.

To gauge the sentiment of our readers with regard to the elections, we asked several questions in a recent poll. Here are the results.

In the upcoming Congressional election, which issues will have the most impact on your voting decision?

National Issues: 87%
Local Issues: 10%
Not Sure: 2%
Other: 1%

Which national issue do you think is the most important?

Gay marriage: 4%War in Iraq: 36%Federal Deficit: 14%Immigration: 26%Nation’s Economy: 16%Other: 3%Not Sure: 1%

Which party will you be more likely to vote for in November?

Democrat: 51%Republican: 27%Other: 6%Not Sure: 17%

Which party do you think will win control of the House of Representatives in the upcoming election?

Republican: 25%Democrat: 46%Not Sure: 28%

Which party do you think will win control of the Senate in the upcoming election?

Democrat: 40%
Republican: 30%
Not Sure: 29%

There is a common belief that local issues often determine who wins Congressional elections. That may turn out to be true but, as you can see from these results, FedSmith readers say they will be voting based on national issues in November. But, as you will see from some of the comments below, defining a "national issue" may depend on the person using the term. As a strategy, Democrats are attempting to run Congressional elections based on national elections this year; Republicans are often turning to local issues as President Bush’s poll numbers are low and may be harmful to some Congressional candidates.

As you can also see from the results of our recent poll, most readers think that the Democrats will take over control of the House and the Senate in the next election. Currently, Republicans have 231 seats in the House and Democrats have 202. The winning party will have to have 218. With the redistricting that was done after the 2000 elections, taking over the House will not be as easy as the poll numbers suggest. Both parties seem to work hard to create districts that virtually insure reelection of an incumbent. The result is that very few elections for the House are very competitive.

It will be even harder for the Democrats to gain a majority in the Senate. Democrats now have 18 of the 33 seats that are up for election in November. Republicans currently have 55 seats and the Democrats 45. The Democrats have to gain 6 seats to end up with the 51 necessary to take over the Senate. Some political analysts think there are as many as 8 Republican Senate seats that are vulnerable. There are also several Democrats who are vulnerable.

Obviously, there may be a Democratic landslide and the FedSmith reader poll numbers suggest this may happen despite the odds against it.

Here are comments from a few readers who voted in the recent poll.

A program manager from DCMA at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia wrote: "The biggest losers in this election will be the voters. First, they will face incumbents with pitiful records and fat campaign funds who are only responsible to the pay-offs given to their war chests; second, the Congress is stagnating, not achieving much with the exception of pandering to the news cameras; third, the critical issues, which have already been addressed by laws that are not enforced, although most of the visible energy will be directed to new legislation, which also will never be enforced."

A "technical expert" from the Social Security Administration in Elizabeth, NJ had this prediction: "The gerrymandering of districts will ensure that Republicans will stay in control. Dems will make gains, but not enough to wrestle control. That’s my prediction."

An air traffic systems specialist from Louisville, KY said: "We lost the war in Iraq the day we decided to remove all the freedoms we have for a false sense of security. Both Democrats and Republicans are the same, Republicans are just better at hiding it. 3rd party for me this election…."

A labor relations specialist with DHS in Dallas, TX commented: "The Republicans have squandered the power given to them by the electorate during the Bush Administration. They have failed to successfully fight for the issues that are important to their constituents and in some cases have actually fought against those issues. I believe this will hurt them in the upcoming elections."

A financial systems specialist with DFAS in Kansas City feels gloomy: "This administration and the Republicans in congress are inept and corrupt. I am a Republican, but I feel that have done such a horrible job over the last six years I am ready to give the Dems a try. The war in Iraq is a quamire and now we are starting to loose Afghanistan. This President and this Congress are absolutely clueless its time to fire them."

An HR specialist from Washington, DC has this observation: "I haven’t a clue as to which party will win the elections since I can’t really tell them apart. It seems that each party is only trying to appease special interests
I do believe that all politics are local. It has to effect the individuals quality of life for them to take a stand."

A senior attorney from the SSA in Hartford, CT comments: "I am fed up with both major parties, and am voting Libertarian."

As far as issues in the elections are concerned, there was a wide disparity among the comments from readers. Here is a sampling:

An Air Force retiree from Alexandria, VA wrote: "It’s a no brainer. Immigration is IT. A few more incidents with our radical muslim friends will push this issue further to the top."

An institutional review specialist with the Dept. of Education in Denver said: "It is not Immigration that is the problem. It is the Illegals in our country. Do we know how many that are here illegally are terrorists. Which ones are sleeper cells? Do corporations lower costs to consumers when hiring illegals."

A retired DOD employee from Virginia cites his interest in retirement issues: "Since I am now a federal goverment retiree as of August 2005, I am most interested in the issue of future cost of living raises (COLAs) because EVERYTHING is going up!"

A general engineer from DOT in Washington, DC had this list: "1. Protection of Defined Pension Benefits…let’s stop these large corporations from using the PBGC as a "rainy-day" fund. 2. The war in Iraq that should have never happened has eroded our resources and Social Security and Medicare have suffered. 3. Outsourcing of American jobs to the lowest bidder."

An HR specialist from SSA in Seattle is a one-issue voter: "With the current red herring of gay marriage being tossed up by the current administration & the continued institutionalized mistreatment of the Gay & Lesbian community, I’ve become a "one-issue" voter – when we have a group of people subject to taxation w/o representation, and a situation where it is truly "OK" for our administration & it’s right-wing cronies to openly & loudly proclaim that some American citizens are not worthy of the same rights as every other tax-paying citizen, I feel I have no choice but to make this issue my priority…."

An HR assistant from USDA in Beltsville, MD writes: "I voted for Bush and I am sorely disappointed in his handling of immigration, I certainly don’t want Hilary – the least of all evils may not even be a good choice, so I have no idea!"

An engineer from the Dept. of Energy in Washington State says: "Moral issues should always be at the top of the list – for from them flow everything else. As George Washington said, public policy always flows from private morality."

A customer account specialist from DFAS in Columbus, Ohio wants some people to pay more in taxes: "No other issue threatens our ability to protect our country and its citizens than the deficit. When the Republicans are done pandering to their base, the Democrats are going to have to roll up their collective sleeves, and start making tough decisions about those horrid taxes the top 1% of Americans don’t want to pay."

A program manager from DoD in Fayetteville, NC has this thought: "ABORTION is always the number one issue…. "What you do unto the lest of these, you do it unto me." Jesus of Nazareth."

A compensation specialist from the Treasury in Lanham, MD cites this issue: "I’m so glad that Sensenbrenner bill brought immigration back to everybody’s attention! I’ve been watching my beautiful city turn into growing pockets of Spanish-speaking, mini-Mexican-slums for years now, and it broke my heart that my country did not seem to care. I usually vote Dem, but I think the House Repubs have it right on immigration, and they have my full support."

A team leader from the Dept. of Education in Washington is upset about numerous issues: "I am so tired of these bi-partisianship surveys. Everything has to be one sided. I myself am concerned about it all. Both National and Local issues. And about gay marriage, the war in Iraq, the federal deficit, immigration and the nation’s economy. I believe we should choose a leader that is a multi-tasker. All the issues count, and where the next President, Congress, or Senate stands on them and how they handle them will be the deciding factor on who I vote for across the board, and being a Democrat or Republican is not even an issue to me anymore. "

And, finally, an analyst from the State Department in Washington says simply: "Thank you for having this platform to voice my opinion."

To this reader and all others who took the time to vote in our recent survey, you have our thanks for taking the time to vote in the recent poll.