Posted by on November 08, 2010 in Blog

On Friday, November 5, AAI President Jim Zogby joined a distinguished panel of guests at Georgetown University for a discussion on the midterm elections. The panel, entitled “U.S. Midterm Elections Roundtable: Where do we go from Here?”, analyzed the political landscape prior to the elections, and shed light on the many factors which contributed to the shift in leadership in the House of Representatives. A post-election analysis was also given by each participant to paint a picture of the political climate over the next two years.


Jon-Christopher Bua (Moderator)
Sky News White House Commentator & Adjunct Professor, Georgetown

Adam Boulton
Sky News’ Political Editor

Harold M. Ickes
The Ickes & Enright Group

Dennis J. Kucinich
Member, U.S. House of Representatives Ohio’s 10th Congressional District

Henry Olsen
Vice President and Director, National Research Initiative American Enterprise Institute 

Dan Rather
Anchor/Managing Editor DAN RATHER REPORTS on HDNet

Lynn Sweet
Chicago Sun-Times Washington Bureau Chief & Columnist

James J. Zogby
President, Arab American Institute

Click here to view the panel discussion in full.


Dan Rather opened the discussion emphasizing that this election was about the economy and jobs. Addressing what message voters were sending by voting in new Congressional leadership to the House, Mr. Rather said “we [the voters] expect Washington to make things better.” He stated that Americans believe the President has, “underdelivered” and voted on the basis of the troubled economy. Mr. Rather also discussed the unprecedented amount of money spent on this election and tied campaign funding to the ultimate outcome of the election.

Harold M. Ickes developed on Mr. Rather’s comments saying that voters were taking issue with the efficiency of government and not the size by voting for Republican domination of the House. Ickes set the ground work for a discussion on policy differences between Democrats and Republicans, reiterating the opinion that Party platforms and policies had much less to do with the election results than many believe. He also highlighted the independent vote and how it affected voting results. Mr Ickes stated that the 2012 might yield similar results for Republicans if they do not get things done in Washington, saying the have a ”very short lease” on their newly elected offices.

Dr. James Zogby, discussed what he termed “loss of confidence in the ability of government to solve problems.” He also added that voters in many ways reacted similarly to the way they did during the 2008 Presidential campaign-voting for change, hope and in some cases out of fear. “This is the first generation of Americans that do not believe their children will have better lives than themselves,” Zogby stated. Alluding to a pattern in voting tendency in the past couple of years, Zogby also stated that 2012 will yield the same results for Democrats as they did in 2008.

Henry Olsen initially built upon the statements of Herold Ickes, stating that, “Republicans should not interpret this [election outcome] as an endorsement of them.” Mr. Olsen immediately added that the election results are indeed primarily a, “repudiation of the policies that have been advanced by the president.” Mr. Olsen explained voter statistics that he had been looking at closely and explained that he was particularly interested in the “white working class,” which he broadly defined as whites who do not have college degrees. He also interpreted the voting patterns of certain key districts, which for the first time ever, voted republican in this election.

Representative Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio expressed profound frustration with his party's failure to take advantage of their super majority in government and to develop more effective economic policies. Kucinich stressed that “the party in power was charged with the responsibility" to restore the economy and that “America expected the Democrats to get them back to work and we didn’t.” Kuinich was quick to dismiss the implications of the shift in power in Congress and reaffirmed his belief that the economy must be the country's first priority.” We can talk Democrats and Republicans till kingdom comes but it doesn’t matter until the economic structure is amended.”

Although President Obama lost a majority of power in Congress, Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun Times discussed the political benefits from the election results for the Obama White House. She believes the results of the election garner a larger share of responsibility for the Republicans with respect to the declining economy. However, Sweet also stated that a "new era of gridlock" will form in D.C. from the election results

Adam Boulton of Sky News provided an international perspective of the election results, particularly the view from Britain. Boulton discussed how the rest of the world is curious if the election results reflect that Obama will be a one term president. Boulton said the rest of the world was not impressed with President Obama's reaction to his defeat on Congress, however, they also believe Obama has time to turn around his Presidency for the 2012 election. Moreover, Boulton expressed how the world became obsessed with the Tea Party movement and believes the signature moment for the Republicans is when the Tea Party decided to endorse GOP candidates. By and large, Boulton reaffirmed the most important part about America's relationship with the world: the economy. Boulton believes Obama needs to restore the U.S. economy in order to restore his image aboard because the U.S. economy is the engine for Europe.