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  1. Politics
5 November 2014updated 22 Jul 2021 5:44am

Republicans win control of the Senate in the US mid-term elections: UK parallels?

Gridlock ahead.

By Anoosh Chakelian

In the US mid-term elections, the Republicans have won control of the Senate, meaning Barack Obama will be hamstrung for his final two years in power.

The Republicans framed their campaign as a vote on dissatisfaction with Obama, essentially approaching the vote as a referendum on his presidency.

The BBC’s North America editor, Jon Sopel, says this terrible result for the Democrats is both down to Obama’s “unpopularity” and also because “American people are fed up with all their politicians”.

That last point sounds particularly familiar, as many UK voters switch their support to Ukip in what is thought of as, among other reasons, a vote of disillusionment with the Westminster establishment.

Also, like our local and European elections in May, and the by-elections that keep cropping up unexpected, providing voters with an opportunity to make a protest, the mid-terms similarly were used by voters to cast a judgement on – and a condemnation of – Obama’s performance. This isn’t so unusual for non-general/presidential elections, but the results are particularly striking when voters are disenchanted to such a great extent with the leading regime, both in the UK and the US.

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Another parallel is key: immigration. A Republican speaking on the BBC’s Today programme this morning insisted that if Obama took a decision to change the status of illegal immigrants already residing in the States, it would suggest the President doesn’t want to compromise with the Republicans. Indeed, they have very different priorities on immigration, as highlighted by David Davenport, writing for Forbes:

The difficulty with immigration reform is that everyone wants to do what they find important first. Republicans want to strengthen border security first. Business leaders want to improve legal immigration for workers first. Liberals want to deal with children and others who are already here first. That’s where immigration reform is stuck—no one trusts the other parties to get to their issue unless theirs is first in line. 

And of course, as in the UK, these concerns being made into electoral battlegrounds distract from what should be the government’s main priority: the economy.

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