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U.S. Military Fatalities in Afghanistan on Record Pace in 2009

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Although Barack Obama only devoted 2 of the 280 sentences in his late February Address before a Joint Session of Congress on the War in Afghanistan, the U.S. attempt to bring greater stability to a historically unstable region of the world is starting to once again take center stage in American foreign policy.

On February 17, just one week prior to his Address, Obama approved sending approximately 17,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan - beefing up American forces in the country by 57 percent, from 30,000 to just shy of 50,000.

Operation Enduring Freedom is proving to be the war that will not end - U.S. military fatalities are now on record pace in 2009, in the 9th year of the military campaign. If the current pace is maintained, 2009 will mark the third consecutive year of increasing levels of U.S. troop deaths in Afghanistan.

According to iCasualties.org, 98 U.S. troops died in 2006, followed by 117 in 2007, and 155 in 2008.

Thirty-six American military personnel have died in 2009 thus far - which puts the war in Afghanistan on a record-setting pace of 175 U.S. troop fatalities for the year, or an increase of 13 percent from 2008. Four U.S. soldiers died on Sunday in a roadside explosion in the eastern part of the country.

While American citizens and members of Congress were nearly in universal support of the initial military operations in Afghanistan to take out the Taliban and al Qaeda terrorist training camps, support has since waned, particularly among Democrats and liberals who support the return of U.S. troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Many Democratic officeholders, however, including liberal U.S. Representative Betty McCollum from Minnesota's 4th District, have been calling for more aid and resources to Afghanistan for years.

Still, polls conducted by USA Today/Gallup and ABC News/Washington Post in late February after Obama's deployment decision now show one-third of the nation in opposition to sending more troops to Afghanistan. Nearly half of those surveyed in the ABC News polls (47 percent) now believe the war in Afghanistan was not worth fighting.

While the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, has lobbied for even more U.S. troops on the ground than those being deployed under Obama's directive, Obama appears to be making good on his campaign pledge to focus on Afghanistan (and its mountainous border region with Pakistan) in the fight against terrorism and the hunt for Osama Bin Laden.

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Remains of the Data

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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