WASHINGTON – With many races tight but polls showing a general trend in favor of Republicans, the White House on Monday blamed voter dissatisfaction with Washington for what could be an Election Day rout for President Barack Obama’s Democrats.
Both parties pushed to get voters to the polls in a final effort to sway the electorate ahead of Tuesday’s election, which could shift control of the U.S. Senate and upend policy priorities for the last two years of Obama’s final term.
The president, who spent the weekend campaigning in Michigan, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, stayed in Washington on Monday and was scheduled to have a meeting with Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen about the U.S. and global economy.
Obama will face pressure to make changes at the White House if his party loses across the board. A poll showed 75 percent of respondents believe the administration needs to “rethink” how it approaches major issues facing the United States. Sixty-four percent said Obama should replace some of his senior staff after the election.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest played down the prospect of major firings.
“At this point, I don’t anticipate that will happen,” he told a briefing. He said a key factor driving the election was “frustration with the failure of Washington, D.C., to put in place policies that are helpful to middle-class families.”
Vice President Joe Biden said Monday he expected Democrats would hold the Senate and dismissed suggestions that the White House will have to change the way it does business.
Voters were to elect 36 senators, all 435 members of the House of Representatives and 36 state governors Tuesday. Control of the Senate may not be clear, though, for some weeks, depending on the outcomes of races in Georgia and Louisiana that could spur runoffs.
Democrats had hoped a superior get-out-the-vote effort, which helped Obama win the White House in 2012, would offset apathy among their core constituency groups, which have a history of sitting out non-presidential elections.
But the Republican Party has stepped up its “ground game,” said Republican National Committee spokesman Kirsten Kukowski. She said volunteers would keep knocking on doors until the polls closed.
“We’ve completely revamped our ground game, and nearly all of our time and resources have gone toward expanding the electorate by persuading and turning out voters who typically don’t vote and turning them out as early as possible,” she said.
Republicans must pick up six Senate seats and retain those they have to reclaim the majority from Democrats and control both chambers of Congress. Polls show several races are toss-ups.
One is in New Hampshire, where Republican Scott Brown is challenging incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen.
A joint poll by WMUR and the University of New Hampshire put Shaheen, a first-term U.S. senator and former governor, leading by 49 percent to 48 percent, while a New England College survey showed Brown, a former U.S. senator from Massachusetts, ahead by 49 percent to 48 percent.
Races in Colorado, North Carolina, Kansas, Iowa and Alaska were also tight.