Republicans facing mid-term poll losses
Nov 6 – 12
WHAT IT IS
AMERICANS head to the polls on Nov 7 for congressional elections. They have to choose their senators, congressmen and state governors from a slate put forward by the Democrat and Republican parties.
The unpopular Iraq war has been the leading factor in the election build-up. Given deep American unease about it, the Republicans are in danger of losing the House and even possibly the Senate.
The Democrats need 15 seats to command the House and six in the Senate. Political commentators believe that the Republicans would be lucky to limit their losses in the House to 20-25 seats and five seats in the Senate.
WHY IT MATTERS
Already weakened in the final throes of his presidency, President George W. Bush faces the prospect of dealing with a hostile Congress if the Democrats win.
It will be tougher for Mr Bush to push through some of his initiatives in a hostile atmosphere.
The Democrats have vowed to mount a campaign looking at oversight of the executive branch, especially on Iraq, counter-terrorism and fiscal policy. They would also have powers to advance their own Bills.
They are aiming to address a number of pocketbook issues: raise minimum wages, cut student-loan interest rates and lower drug prices for patients. They are also intent on blocking bilateral free-trade agreements.