Trump kicks off final campaign blitz to boost Republicans and himself
The final weeks of George W. Bush’s presidency are likely to play a critical role in the midterm elections, as the Republican Party’s chances to hold on to control of the Senate and make gains in the House are at risk.
As president, Bush was a popular president in the polls and regularly beat Democratic challengers in high-level races, but he lost seven Senate seats to Democrats in 2004, and only the rarest of times succeeded in the popular vote.
Bush also faced unpopularity as his approval ratings declined nationwide. Polls showed he was losing popularity, and his approval rating fell from a high of nearly 90 percent to just 56 percent in August of 2007. In late November, a Gallup poll showed Obama with a 53 percent approval rating and 52 percent disapproval, compared with Bush’s just 30 percent approval and 65 percent disapproval.
Bush’s loss of popularity became a problem after the U.S. invaded Iraq and in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, with many still claiming he “didn’t do enough to help.”
Now Democrats are trying to make up for the loss with a new generation who have no memory of the Bush years. Bush’s image has faded, and Democrats are banking on a wave of younger voters who are disillusioned with Bush and his politics of “compassionate conservatism.”
“Bush has been a very unpopular president,” said Michael Barone, a Republican strategist who has worked with GOP candidates. “I remember when Bush ran for president and he was a very popular man to begin with.”
Democrats have also been spending heavily on television ads in Senate and House races in the final days of the campaign.
The Democratic groups and strategists working on the Senate campaigns are hoping for a victory in Ohio and Pennsylvania, where the candidates are favored Democrats to win over GOP incumbent Senators Rob Portman of Ohio and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
“This is all about putting the pressure on the Republican candidates,” said Mark Schmitt, a Democratic consultant in Pennsylvania.
The race is shaping up to be close, and Schmitt said the national networks seem to be favoring Republican candidates. “The networks have been very favorable to the Republicans in the past,” he said.
Schmitt said if the race is close in Pennsylvania and Ohio, it is possible the Democrats will take control of the Senate.
Schmitt said most of the ads have targeted a “certain brand of Republican” in each