US & Canada

US Election at a glance: 18 Oct

Day in a Nutshell

Mid-term campaigning gathered steam as Sarah Palin headed to Reno, Nevada for the launch of the Tea Party Express's national bus tour and First Lady Michelle Obama campaigned for Democrats in Connecticut and New York.

The Tea Party Express tour will stop in 28 cities over a fortnight, finishing in Concord, New Hampshire, on Monday 1 November, the day before the elections.

Mrs Obama was the star attraction at a fundraiser in New York, alongside the vice-president's wife, Jill Biden.

President Barack Obama spoke at a fundraiser for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee at a private home in Maryland.

In New York, candidates for governor locked horns in a debate. The two front runners are Republican Carl Paladino, who shook the race with a recent declaration that children should not be "brainwashed" into accepting homosexuality, and Democrat Andrew Cuomo, the state's attorney general.

Quote - Unquote

"When is it ever a good idea to tie up a woman and ask her to kneel before a false idol, your god, which you call Aqua Buddha?" - Kentucky Democrat Jack Conway said in a debate about his Republican opponent Rand Paul.

Mr Conway was referring to a GQ report that alleged Mr Paul had conducted the prank while a student at Baylor University. Mr Rand has criticised the attack and asserted he is a "pro-life Christian".

"Some of you look a little more Asian to me" - Republican Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle addresses Hispanic students, prompting comment from the Las Vegas Sun. She also said: "I've been called the first Asian legislator in our Nevada state assembly."

Key numbers

The precise effect of religion at election time is a hardy biennial for psephologists. But two academics are suggesting the association between evangelical Christianity and conservatism may be causing young people to eschew organised religion.

This piece in the LA Times noted that the number of people with no religious affiliation has risen from 7% in 1990 to 17%.

There were also some unpleasant numbers for the Democrats as the latest figures showed the Republicans raising more campaign money by a distance, the Washington Post reported.

Republican candidates for the house have amassed a reported $104m from July to September against the Democrats' $89m. And in the top 18 Senate races, the Democrats have only managed $40m compared with the Republicans' $60m.

Daily Picture

Image caption The first lady campaigned for Connecticut Democratic Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal