Guide into US' most polarized Midterm Elections
With the US Midterm Elections 2022 approaching, several issues are on the table in the polarized nation. Here is a guide to the Midterm Elections, all you need to know, and what to expect.
The US Midterm Elections on November 8 will significantly have a toll on the course of the country as well as the identity of the 2024-elected president and party in charge of the White House.
The outcome will determine how much President Joe Biden can accomplish in the second half of his term as well as how the government can respond to escalating recession risks. Additionally, it will serve as a crucial indicator of the Republican Party's state and whether Donald Trump will challenge Biden in 2024.
The elections will also determine who will be in charge of the state legislatures, governorships, and Congress. Importantly, the elections will give voters a chance to express their opinions on the current presidency and the country's current course.
The Congress elections are known as the midterms because they take place in the middle of the president's four-year term. The House of Representatives and the Senate are the two legislative branches of the United States Congress. Each state has two senators who serve six-year terms in the Senate. Representatives are elected for two years and represent smaller districts. In November, elections are held for one-third of the Senate and all House of Representatives seats.
The Senate can confirm the president's nominations, block or approve laws, and, in rare circumstances, open investigations into the president. The House determines which laws are put to a vote. There are 535 members of Congress in total, 100 senators and 435 representatives in the House of Representatives.
What is the significance of the 2022 midterms?
Even though Biden's name may not appear on the ballots, the outcome could have an impact on his reputation given that Democrats are fighting to maintain control of the House and Senate.
"From President Biden's perspective, he can kiss any part of his legislative agenda goodbye for the rest of his term if he loses the House, and it could get worse if Republicans also take control of the Senate," said Mark Jones, a political scientist at Rice University in Houston to Anadolu Agency.
Republicans have vowed, if they take over one or both houses of Congress, to investigate the Biden administration and have Biden or other key members of his team impeached.
Considering how the US economy is doing and how voters feel about different issues, the verdict on the president may not fare well. Biden has found it difficult to advance a legislative agenda, even with undisputed Democratic control of Congress. It will be nearly impossible for Democrats to pass any additional significant legislation if they lose either house because of the veto power of both houses and the president.
Biden has had trouble advancing a legislative agenda despite the fact that the Democratic Party controls Congress with a unanimous majority. If Democrats lose either house, it will be nearly impossible to pass any additional significant legislation because both houses and the president have veto power.
According to a recent study, the majority of #Americans do not want either Joe #Biden or Donald #Trump to run for President in 2024, highlighting the uncertainty they are feeling about their next president. pic.twitter.com/5cxmoaLXDj— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) June 21, 2022
If Republicans take over the Senate, Biden will struggle to appoint individuals to state positions, as they must be confirmed by the Senate. In particular, the governor's and secretary of state's offices, which are ultimately responsible for certifying election results in the majority of states, are up for grabs among the statewide positions where some of these candidates are running and could have a significant impact on the elections of 2024.
It is important to note and keep in mind that Trump has continued to claim that the 2020 election was "stolen" from him in a fraudulent manner and that this claim has been echoed by thousands of Republican candidates in the 2022 midterm elections.
What issues matter most this year?
Several issues might have an impact on how this year's midterm elections turn out. The political pendulum is swinging right toward Republicans one day and left toward Democrats the next.
Roe V. Wade
Numerous indicators point to the fact that voter behavior in this year's mid-term elections will be influenced by the US Supreme Court's decision to reverse Roe v. Wade, which gave states back control over abortion decisions. For instance, in several states, most notably Pennsylvania and Kansas, the number of women registering to vote has increased significantly.
Abortion is a prime illustration of how changes in Congress may directly affect Americans' daily lives across the nation. The Court overturned abortion rights in June, while both parties proposed new laws if they win a majority in the midterms.
Democrats are committed to women's abortion rights, while Republicans propose a national ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. At the state level, the outcome of the key governor and local elections in traditional political battleground states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan could lead to new abortion restrictions.
One who holds a majority in Congress and who holds power in the states will have an impact on what other policies are prioritized in addition to abortion.
Economy and Inflation
Republicans believe that voters will be most concerned about inflation when casting their ballots, and they believe that President Biden's economic policies give them the advantage. They believe they can win if they can persuade voters to believe Republicans will drive a better economy, taking into account Biden's dismal polling results and the spike in prices.
The number one concern for Americans is consistent inflation and the party in power is typically held responsible for economic problems. Liberals stand on a thin line as the majority of voters predict that the nation is shifting in the opposite direction, which means the Republicans are expected to gain control in key areas.
Immigration is one midterm issue that is likely to foreshadow a significant portion of the 2024 presidential primary. The recent choice made by Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis to relocate migrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard, an affluent coastal region of Massachusetts.
DeSantis is one of the leading Republicans attempting to use the nation's conflicted views on immigration as a platform. Some of the broad outlines of Trump's own policy platform, which included his signature support for the construction of a wall across the US-Mexico border, are shared by his strategy.
Similar orders were issued by Texas' Republican governor, Greg Abbott, to take a bus full of immigrants from his state's resident migrants from Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia, and other countries to Vice President Harris's home in Washington, DC.
Another major concern for some voters heading to the polls in November is the debate over gun control in the United States. The "right to bear arms" guaranteed by the Second Amendment and whether legislation intended to prevent mass shootings supersedes those constitutional protections are at the center of this debate.
Gun control advocates contend that since the Second Amendment was created to safeguard a person's right to self-defense, there should be no restrictions on lawful gun ownership. However, proponents of gun control contend that the Second Amendment was written for organized militias and that new restrictions on the purchase and sale of firearms are necessary to reduce gun violence.
With the approach of the midterms, Democrats are campaigning in favor of more restrictions on the possession of arms, while the Republicans are campaigning against any legislative adjustments. That said, the election outcome will determine the fate of the "right to bear arms."
US President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan gun control bill on June 25, 2022. This comes at a time when gun violence has been recorded to be the number one cause of children's deaths in the US.
The new federal law closes some loopholes in gun laws, such as the "boyfriend loophole," and fund crisis intervention and "red flags" laws designed to keep guns out of the hands of people that may be dangerous to themselves and to others.
Midterms power shift
The party out of power typically almost always gains congressional seats in a midterm election. Presidents who have low approval ratings typically experience significant congressional losses.
It is important to note that while Democrats' fortunes have improved, a power shift to the Republicans is still the most likely result of the midterm elections, which will cause Biden more problems over the next two years.
Democrats have unquestionably made significant gains over the summer. They have benefited from lower gas prices and the outcry over the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The GOP's selection of extreme-right candidates in several crucial Senate and governorship races could be of benefit to the Democrats. By selecting MAGA-supporting candidates in swing states like Pennsylvania, Arizona, and New Hampshire, Republicans could be risking their chances of winning the majority. Nonetheless, data show that Republicans are still widely expected to regain control of the House, and they have a good chance of picking up the extra Senate seat needed to do so.
What happens if GOP takes majority?
Since last August, Biden's voter approval rating has been below 50%. He will be able to carry out his alleged plans on climate change, expanding government-run healthcare programs, defending abortion rights, and tightening gun control if Democrats manage to hold onto power in Congress. However, if either chamber is taken over by a Republican majority, they will be able to effectively grind that agenda to a halt.
Predictions suggest that congressional investigations into Trump would come to a halt, and Republicans could go on the offensive. They could also push investigations of their own into Biden officials and new investigations into more conservative-interest topics - like the Chinese business dealings of Biden's son or the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
It would be harder for Biden to make new appointments, including to the US Supreme Court. Republican dominance would also hamper his foreign policy - particularly aid for Ukraine. In return, Biden could wield his veto pen and block conservative laws on abortion, immigration and taxes. The result? Gridlock until the next presidential and congressional elections.
Two things can be true at the same time: Republicans are still well-positioned to win back the House and the Senate, but expectations for bigger gains are looking less likely.
How does this shape the 2024 presidential race?
We might learn something about potential Republican presidential candidates for 2024 from the midterm elections.
Trump is less likely to receive support from the Republican party to run for president once more if the candidates he supports perform poorly. Republican governors Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott of Florida and Texas respectively hope that winning re-election will motivate them to run for president.
As they prepare their 2024 campaign to win President Biden's reelection, Democrats should feel more confident if they can maintain control in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.
What states to keep an eye on
The control of the Senate, the House, and the state governments will be settled by several crucial races in each of these states. Not just within their boundaries but also nationwide, what occurs in these states will have an impact on topics like abortion rights, economic policy, education, and the climate crisis. Some of the states to keep an eye on are Georgia, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona, and Wisconsin.
Elections in Georgia can be very close, as evidenced by the last two cycles, and this is probably not going to change this year. Georgia won the race for Senate control in 2020, and a similar outcome could occur in 2022.
Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won seats in the Senate during the previous election cycle, giving them control of the chamber. Warnock will now face off against Trump-backed football player Herschel Walker in a race for a full term. Walker has maintained his GOP support despite a number of scandals.
Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, survived a primary challenge backed by Trump this cycle after rejecting his false claims about the 2020 election. In 2018, he narrowly defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams to win his first term in office.
Abrams refused to concede, and the two will square off once more in November. However, this time, Kemp is running as a Republican who opposes Trump. Abrams would become the first Black woman governor if she prevails.
In 2020, Biden helped Democrats retake Pennsylvania. Before Trump's narrow victory in 2016, the state had supported Democrats in six straight presidential elections.
Some of the most crucial Senate and governorship races in the nation this year will be held in the state that granted Biden his presidential victory in 2020.
A former TV personality, Mehmet Oz - known as Dr. Oz, is the Republican candidate vying for an open Senate seat, while Gov. John Fetterman is the Democratic candidate hoping his unconventional appeal can help him win the seat.
The state's attorney general, Josh Shapiro, is fighting to keep the Democratic Party in charge of Pennsylvania's governorship in a contest that has gained additional significance because the governor designates the person in charge of elections. Republican state senator Doug Mastriano, who played a key role in supporting Trump's efforts to rig the 2020 election, is Shapiro's opponent.
Pennsylvania's Democratic base is concentrated in the cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, while Republicans are more successful in the state's more rural central region. Democratic support has increased in the Philadelphia suburbs, while Republican support has increased in the western and northeastern regions of the state.
Democrats have won in the state of Nevada in every presidential election since 2008, but the margin of victory has gotten smaller each time.
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Gov. Steve Sisolak are two of the Democratic party's most vulnerable incumbents as Nevada tries to recover from a pandemic downturn that hit the tourism industry particularly hard.
A former state attorney general, Adam Laxalt, who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2018 but won statewide in 2014, is Cortez Masto's opponent. Joe Lombardo, the sheriff of the state's largest county, is Sisolak's opponent.
A democratic candidate, Republican Jim Marchant, who has questioned the validity of the 2020 election, is running for secretary of state of Nevada.
In the less populous rural counties of the state, Republican candidates typically perform best.
In addition to the important contests for Arizona's governor, state attorney general, and secretary of state, all nine House seats are up for election.
In the Grand Canyon state, the stakes are particularly high after it just barely favored Biden in the 2020 elections. The two front-runners for governor in the state are Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and former news anchor Kari Lake.
In support of former President Donald Trump's allegations of election fraud in the 2020 elections, Lake, a member of Team Trump, ran a campaign on the issues of border security, immigration restrictions, and the ban on critical race theory.
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If Lake defeats Hobbs, the Democrats will suffer as one of the most pro-Trump governors in a swing state. The race between Republican candidate Blake Masters and incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Kelly is also receiving a lot of attention because it could determine who controls the Senate.
Democratic Kelly repeatedly opposed the administration and defied Biden over his border policy in an effort to win over the voters of the border state who prioritize immigration.
Following Donald Trump's victory in 2016, which made him the first Republican to take the state since George H.W. Bush in 1988, Biden reclaimed Michigan for the Democrats. By fewer than 155,000 votes, Biden won Michigan.
As Republican Tudor Dixon takes on Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in the state's gubernatorial contest, all eyes in Michigan will be on the contest. Tudor Dixon is hopeful that Whitmer's support for Trump will help Michigan swing back toward the Republican Party.
Michigan voters will choose between a ballot initiative to increase voting eligibility and an election to choose a new secretary of state. Republican Kristina Karamo, who has embraced Trump's claims about the 2020 election, will be up against incumbent Democrat Jocelyn Benson.
Democrats will need to do well in the counties around Detroit as well as increase their vote totals in Democratic-friendly regions of the state like Ann Arbor and Lansing if they want to keep Michigan blue.
Republicans will likely perform well in the state's western and northern regions and will work to increase their support in the historically conservative region surrounding Grand Rapids, which has recently shifted more Democratic.
After Trump narrowly won the state in 2016, Biden narrowly turned Wisconsin back to blue in 2020. Democratic presidential contenders had won the previous seven elections before Trump's victory, ending their winning streak.
In one of the most politically split states in the country, Wisconsin, both Republican Sen. Ron Johnson and Democrat Gov. Tony Evers are running for reelection.
Johnson is up against Democratic Governor Mandela Barnes, who at one point expressed support for cutting police spending and has a history of making contentious remarks about the pandemic and the attack on January 6.
Tim Michels, a Republican businessman, is Evers' opponent. Trump supported Michels throughout the primary by vehemently reinforcing his false statements about the 2020 election.
Milwaukee and Madison, two historically blue-collar cities, are where Democrats find the most support. The more affluent northern and western suburbs of Milwaukee, as well as the less populous counties in central Wisconsin, are where the GOP base is concentrated.
Power of balance at stake
So, what should we expect? - The fate of Biden's remaining two years depends highly on the voter turnout. The President could either continue implementing the agenda he preaches in favor of, or will be influenced by the Republican majority, which would most definitely do everything to make the current agenda conservative.
While the balance of power in the House and the Senate is up for grabs, the rift between Democrats and Republicans is growing even wider and the outcome can tip the scales on either side.
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