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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 October 2006, 22:10 GMT 23:10 UK
US mid-terms panel: Michael DeLaurentis

MEET THE PANEL
Michael DeLaurentis
Name: Michael DeLaurentis
Age: 59
Lives: Elkins Park, Pennsylvania
Works: Tax attorney
Voting intention: Democrat
In 10 words or less:
"My blood pressure has increased during the Bush presidency"

I will, as always, vote a straight Democratic ticket in the upcoming elections.

The key race in my state is the Senate race between the Republican incumbent Rick Santorum and Democrat Bob Casey.

Frequently, state-wide elections boil down to Philadelphia versus the rest of the state - which until recently was to Santorum's benefit - but this is no longer the case.

I am disappointed that Casey is such a conservative candidate but I recognise that this is a real opportunity for the Democrats to unseat Santorum without offending the broad swathe of conservative working-class voters throughout the state. So, even though he doesn't appeal to me, he'll get my vote.

The gubernatorial race seems a foregone conclusion. Former American Football legend and Republican challenger Lynn Swann is no match for the very popular Democratic incumbent Ed Rendell.

The interesting Congressional races are in the 6th, 7th and 8th districts where the seats of incumbent Republicans Curt Weldon, Jim Gerlach and Mike Fitzpatrick are threatened by comparative unknowns Joe Sestak, Lois Murphy and Iraq war veteran Patrick Murphy.

US MID-TERMS PANEL
Pennsylvania is a peculiar state. In some ways it's a miniature of the country as a whole with lots of blue [Democratic] voters on the west and east 'coasts' and vast swathes of deep red [Republican] in between.

There are centuries of differences in the political make-up of populations separated by only a few miles.

As for the rest of the country, Iraq will loom large but the growing stench of corruption in government, especially Congress, will weigh heavily on voters and will cost the Republicans seats.

As always, local issues will matter but national issues will likely dominate and determine outcomes in local races more than in any prior election.

Nationally, I predict the Democrats will re-take the House of Representatives.

The Senate is too close to call, but Republican seats could fall to the Democrats in key states like Missouri, Tennessee, Ohio, Virginia, and Wyoming.

Whatever happens, I think it's unlikely that we'll see any significant change in policy in the coming weeks or months. The country's in a bad mood. Both sides of the political divide hate each other. Real change will have to wait until 2008.






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