Six weeks out from the Nov. 2 midterm elections, news organizations around the country are reporting that:
-- In Florida, a generational shift may be taking place among senior citizens who already were cool to President Obama in 2008 and are said to be increasingly worried about the surge in federal spending and issues close to them, like Medicare.
-- One Pennsylvania House race is a showcase for the GOP's strategy of trying to tie Democratic candidates to Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the same way Democrats sought to saddle Republicans with former President Bush in 2008.
-- An independent in Illinois' gubernatorial race may not have much of a chance of winning, but could affect the outcome. And while being a powerful Washington insider has turned into a liability rather than an asset in many races, long-serving Michigan Rep. John Dingell seems to be weathering the storm.
Here's a look at some of these races:
Anxiety Among Older Voters May Hurt Democratic Candidates
The powerful voting bloc of senior citizens in Florida, a mainstay of Democrats for generations, is turning against President Obama and Democratic candidates in this year's midterm elections in part because of fears about the huge debt the nation has been piling up, the Orlando Sentinel
Older voters not only make up a quarter of the state's electorate, but a higher percentage of them tend to turn out in off-year elections than younger voters.
The Sentinel says that pollsters and political analysts say that seniors "are appalled by today's acrimonious political climate and are increasingly convinced that the government cannot spend its way out of economic problems."
The paper describes the trend as a generational shift from past decades when the political allegiances of seniors were cemented during the Depression and continued on for years but started becoming evident in 2008 when most over 65 backed Republican John McCain for president.
A particular concern to seniors in the state are the cuts to Medicare that are part of the new health care reform law which includes elimination of extra payments to Medicare Advantage plans run by Health Maintenance Organizations, the Sentinel said. A third of Medicare patients in South Florida had signed up for these plans.
The Sentinel cited a CNN/Time poll this month that showed 42 percent of voters over 50 supported Republican Marco Rubio in the Senate race compared to 31 percent for independent Charlie Crist and 22 percent for Democrat Kendrick Meek. Crist led among voters under 49.
First-Term Democrat Makes It Known She "Hardly Ever Talks Personally" to Pelosi
Democrat Kathy Dahlkemper
, a political newcomer, edged out seven-term Republican Rep. Phil English in the 2008 Democratic tidal wave in a campaign where English struggled to distance himself from an unpopular President Bush. Just one election cycle later, Dahlkemper is trying to hang on to her Erie, Pa. congressional seat by doing the same when it comes to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Dahlkemper has been trying to "inoculate herself from the anti-Washington backlash" by declaring in one of her television ads, "I didn't create the mess in Washington, but I'm working every day to solve it," reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
. When it comes to GOP efforts to hang Pelosi around her neck, the Post-Gazette reports that Dahlkemper says she "hardly ever talks personally" with the speaker and that "I've never once been asked by her to vote a certain way."
National polls have shown Pelosi to be unpopular in this election year, and the Washington Post
noted Monday that Democrats in states like Texas, Ohio and North Carolina are "running away" from her. Several Democrats say that if the party retains control of the House, they are not committed to re-elect Pelosi as speaker.
Dahlkemper's Republican opponent, car dealer Mike Kelly
, has taken up the anti-Pelosi refrain in his campaign, saying she has a 94 percent record of voting with Pelosi and that "Instead of taking into consideration the people who sent her (to Washington), she's more interested in the party," according to the Post-Gazette.
Independent Candidate Scott Lee Cohen Could Be Wild Card in Governor's Race
Millionaire pawnbroker Scott Lee Cohen, who had won the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor and then withdrew after messy revelations about his personal life, may end up as the spoiler in the gubernatorial race between Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn and Republican state Sen. Bill Brady, says the Chicago Tribune
The Tribune says that, until now, Cohen has been conducting his campaign as an independent "under the radar" -- a strategy that worked for him in the lieutenant governor's race -- but now "is re-emerging, with billboards, radio advertising and a TV ad campaign that starts this week."
Cohen had only polled 4 percent in a Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV poll
published at the beginning of the month, but his ability to self-finance his campaign could make him enough of a force to impact the race, the Tribune says.
It remains to be seen to whom Cohen poses the greatest threat, if any. Quinn has taken enough notice of Cohen's presence to aim a few shots at him, the Tribune said. But Cohen also has sought to appeal to Republicans and independents with what the Tribune described as "a Republican-styled, anti-tax, budget-cutting, pro-business theme."
Cohen had dropped his bid for the lieutenant governor's job amid disclosures that he had been arrested in 2005 on charges of assaulting a former girlfriend.
Dingell Under 50 Percent in Poll, But Still Far Ahead of GOP Challenger
Encouraged by the anti-Democratic tide they sense will mean big pick-ups this fall, Republicans have been nursing hopes that they might be able to topple one of the old lions of the House, Rep. John Dingell
, but a Detroit News/ Local 4 WDIV poll
conducted Sept. 15-16 shows the 27-term congressman leading Republican challenger Rob Steele
by 49.3 percent to 30.3 percent, with 13 percent undecided.
Steele, waging the now-familiar anti-Washington campaign against the House's longest-serving Democrat, took some consolation in the fact that Dingell was under 50 percent in the survey. Dingell won with 70 percent of the vote in 2008, he did not have Republican opposition in 2006, and when there was a GOP candidate in 2004, he also took 70 percent.
Steele had only 50 percent name recognition in the poll, compared to 98 percent for Dingell.
Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser told the News that once voters get to know Steele, a cardiologist, "those numbers can change and change dramatically."
The News cited some warning signs for Dingell in the poll. Nearly 61 percent of independent voters believe it is time for someone new to represent the district. It also noted that Dingell and Steele were tied in Monroe County, considered a bellwether for elections.