Magazine article Techniques

Fun with Numbers. (Capitol View)

Magazine article Techniques

Fun with Numbers. (Capitol View)

Article excerpt

As summer ends and September begins, it brings with it not only the start of a new school year, but also the start of "campaign season." In the course of the next three months, Americans will elect all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives as well as 33 U.S. Senators. We are all seeing the significant campaign efforts across the media in newspaper headlines and television ads. Who can keep so many political skirmishes straight? Well a lot of people in the nation's capital make it their jobs to keep tabs and make projections about each and every race.

At the federal level, the U.S. Congress has been a virtual draw with respect to political party control for the past few years. The last election brought an evenly divided Senate, until one senator crossed party lines giving Democrats the slightest of control. In the House, the Republicans hold a controlling majority, with 223 seats to the Democrats' 210 (211 with the vote of an independent). A party change in as little as one Senate seat or seven House seats has the ability to completely alter America's political landscape for the next two years, making each and every congressional battle potentially momentous. Makes you want to vote, doesn't it?

Roll Call, a newspaper widely circulated on Capitol Hill, is a good source for political punditry on elections. Interestingly, the newspaper notes that, after a few years of Republicans holding the edge on key issues, Democrats are regaining influence in education and economic concerns. The current economic situation is hurting the president's approval ratings at least slightly, with his rating dropping to below 70 percent in August for the first time during his tenure. A Gallup poll shows that during the summer, people's optimism about the economy improving dropped from 47 percent to 32 percent. …

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