TOPICS > Politics

Midterms May Usher in New Era for GOP, Changes to Obama’s Policy

November 1, 2010 at 4:23 PM EDT
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Kwame Holman reports on the last day of campaigning before voters go to the polls on Tuesday. Polls show a bleak outlook for Democrats, with Republicans poised to take back the House and gain seats in the Senate.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The day’s other major story, of course, was the midterm election of 2010, now just one day away. NewsHour correspondent Kwame Holman has that story.

KWAME HOLMAN: On this election eve, campaign workers across the country knocked on doors and made 11th-hour pitches for their candidates. First lady Michelle Obama was in Nevada stumping for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He’s in his toughest reelection battle ever with Republican challenger Sharron Angle.

FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA: We need you to find those folks that you know who are planning to sit this one out. And we need you to tell them that they can’t just vote once, and then just hope for change to happen. You have got to tell them they have got to vote every single time. They have got to vote for their council members and their mayors and governors and for senators like Harry Reid.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

KWAME HOLMAN: Former President Bill Clinton headlined a rally in West Virginia for Governor Joe Manchin running for the U.S. Senate.

BILL CLINTON, Former President of the United States: You would have to fly away from your common sense with the country in the economic trouble we have got, with the budget challenges we have, to deny, not just West Virginians, but America, the chance to have one of the finest governors that I have ever seen who turned this state around in 15 different ways to go to Washington and try to help bring people together to actually solve our problems, instead of to keep fighting.

KWAME HOLMAN: For his part, President Obama told a radio interviewer that the country’s future depends in key ways on people turning out to vote tomorrow. And the Democratic National Committee issued a final ad urging Democratic voters to get to the polls.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We cannot sit this one out.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

KWAME HOLMAN: But the last of the pre-election polls showed a potentially devastating picture for Democrats on Tuesday. A Wall Street Journal/NBC survey found Republicans holding the advantage among likely voters. The margin in the USA Today/Gallup poll was even larger, at 15 points. That’s the widest gap since Democrats scored their post-Watergate wipeout in 1974.

Republicans are hoping, when they return to the Capitol for a lame-duck session, it will be on the heels of a smashing election victory. They need a net gain of 39 seats to win back the House. They won 54 seats in the 1994 election. On the Senate side, they need to win 10 seats to take the majority, a longer shot.

House Minority Leader John Boehner could become speaker if Republicans win tomorrow. He talked up his party’s chances on Saturday campaigning for a candidate in his home state of Ohio.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), House Minority Leader: And, you know, I’m going to tell you straight up, because I’m not Nancy Pelosi. I’m not Barack Obama. I say what I mean and I mean what I say.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER: And I’m going to tell you that this race wasn’t on anybody’s charts.

(LAUGHTER)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER: Well, let me tell you what. The reason we’re all here today is because Bill Johnson and his campaign have done one whale of a job putting themselves on the map.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

KWAME HOLMAN: This morning, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele agreed the country may be ready to give his party another chance.

MICHAEL STEELE, chairman, Republican National Committee: And, so, we’re hoping now for a fresh start with the American people. And if we don’t — and this has been the word that I have gotten across the country — if we don’t live

up to those expectations, then we will have a problem in two years. But, right now, the people are looking to us to move us in a new direction. And that’s what we’re prepared to do.

KWAME HOLMAN: And with voting day looming, both sides were gearing up to watch for problems, and to fight potential court challenges in a number of races that could finish with razor-thin margins.