Mid-term elections are officially less than a month away in America. The results will determine how much of Biden’s remaining agenda can move forward.
On November 8th, Americans across the country will vote for Congress members (House of Representatives and the Senate) as well as for those selected state and local representatives up for reelection (based on each state). In Congress, all 435 House of Representatives seats are up for reelection as House members only hold two-year terms. While for the Senate, only 34 seats will be voted on as senators hold six-year terms. Historically, only about 40% of eligible Americans choose to vote in the midterm election; however, this year there are indications that voter turnout will be higher than average. This isn’t necessarily a reason to celebrate though, more voters are coming to the polls because of the ever-increasing polarization in society on key issues.
Recent polls across the board all indicate that issues such as the Supreme Court ruling on abortion, violent crime, inflation rates, and the economy are the top matters voters are concerned with. However, as the election approaches, the economy and inflation rates have taken precedence as the number one issue. A Washington Post-ABC News poll showcases that 85% of respondents will prioritize the economy when voting for the candidates this year, while 78% hold inflation as a top reason for their vote. This is no surprise as gas prices and the cost of living are reaching astronomical rates.
Chart 1. Economy, abortion and inflation topm issue list for votes this fall
Source: E. Guskin, Analysis | What Are Midterm Elections and Why Are They Important?, The Washington Post. Washington Post-ABC News Poll, 6.10.2022 r.
An August Pew Research Center poll confirms these results yet also showcases just how much voters are concerned about access to abortion this midterm election season.
Wykres 2. Gospodarka pozostaje dominującą kwestią podczas głosowania w połowie kadencji, ale aborcja zyskuje na znaczeniu
Źródła: Pew Research Center, Ekonomia pozostaje dominującą kwestią wyborów uzupełniających, ale znaczenie aborcji wzrasta, U.S. Politics & Policy. Pew Research Center, 23 sierpnia 2022 r.
It seems as if the abortion issue has become a key way for Democrats to mobilize their voters. Ever since Trump’s defeat in 2020, the urgency among Democrats has largely disappeared. Now, the Party has found a controversial cause to reignite its lost flame. However, strategically so, the Democrats are at high risk of losing their loosely held dominance in both the House and the Senate. Republicans only need to flip five seats in the House and one seat in the Senate to reclaim their majority. Accordingly, history has shown that when presidential approval is low, as is the case with Biden, voters will typically vote for the opposite party in Congress to display their disappointment with the party in the White House. Various polls have indicated that Biden’s disapproval rating currently holds at around 55%.
Republicans, on the other hand, have been mobilized to hit the polls ever since 2020. Many Republican Party leaders and voters strongly believe that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump. Their evidence rests on claims of significant voter fraud in the form of fraudulent use of absentee ballots, impersonation fraud, buying votes, illegal assistance at the polls, false registrations, ineligible voting, and duplicate voting among other fraud types. The following instances were reportedly significant because of the “unusually high levels of mail-in voting and voter turnout” for the 2020 election. The GOP does not believe that Joe Biden could have won a record-high number of votes, 81 million, while winning a record-low number of counties. The evidence rests on the following numbers, “Barack Obama won 69 million votes and 873 counties (in 2008) and Donald Trump won 74 million votes and 2,497 counties (in 2020), while Biden won 81 million votes and just 477 counties (also in 2020).”
Furthermore, Republicans strongly condemn the recurring actions taken against Trump such as the banning of his Twitter account in 2021, the two failed impeachments, and most recently, the raid of his residence and club in Mar-a-Lago. Evidentially, Democrats are doing everything they can to stop Trump from running in 2024; however, they are unlikely to succeed as Trump is reportedly ready to announce his third run for president before this year concludes.
Possible Top Republican Candidates 2024
1. Donald Trump
Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s former advisor, told CBS News that Trump, “would like to announce his bid for 2024 after the midterms, likely by Thanksgiving (November 24th).” Conway continues, “I will tell you why he wants to run for president – Donald Trump wants his old job back.” Trump is controversial yet known as a man who can influence an audience and maintain a loyal fanbase. He was appealing because he was different, something the political scene had never witnessed. Further, Americans liked him for his bluntness, successful businessman persona, and ability to have simple answers for every issue. Accordingly, these characteristics were also evidently admired by Poles. Poland was surveyed as “the only European country in which a majority have confidence in Trump.”
Regardless if one was a supporter of PiS or PO, Poles on both sides of the political spectrum seemed to have a favorable view of Trump. During Trump’s administration, Polish and American relations were the closest they had ever been since the times of Reagan. Poles were finally granted visa-free travel to the US, talks of “Fort Trump” were being discussed, Trump chose to visit Poland first during his 2017 Europe trip, President Duda was the first foreign leader invited to the U.S. in 2020 after COVID halted meetings for months, Trump was a strong advocator of the Three Seas Initiative, and the former president even stated himself, “Frankly Poland is a country we have a tremendous relationship with and I have a very good personal relationship with the president [Duda].”
Trump’s View on Ukraine Could Damage Polish Relations
Trump’s stance on Ukraine could indeed damage the friendly relations built between Poland and the US. When asked about his thoughts on the war in Ukraine, the former president has repeatedly reverted to answering this “would have never happened” if he was still in office because Putin would not strike “if he respected our president.” Trump has expressed his condolences for Ukraine, “Very brave people, these — the way they’re fighting, it’s an amazing thing…” and “Nobody can look at the bloodshed much longer, what’s happening, it’s just so ridiculous and so senseless and so horrible.” Yet his statements lack condemnation and even signal support of Russia. Two days before the war officially began in February Trump stated in an interview, “So, Putin is now saying, ‘It’s independent,’ a large section of Ukraine. I said, ‘How smart is that?’ And he’s gonna go in and be a peacekeeper. That’s [the] strongest peace force.” He further continued and called Putin’s plans “pretty savvy” and “genius.” Trump also suggested that Ukraine “could have given up Crimea” or “done something with NATO.” His stance took a slight turn in April when he released the following statement, “It doesn’t make sense that Russia and Ukraine aren’t sitting down and working out some kind of agreement. If they don’t do it soon, there will be nothing left but death, destruction, and carnage. This is a war that never should have happened, but it did…”
Still, this is a confusing and misleading statement as it is not Ukraine’s obligation to “work out some kind of agreement” with Russia. Trump makes it seem as if Russia didn’t attack a sovereign nation. Pro-Russian views and unclear stances on the war in Ukraine are unfortunately common in the Republican Party and among conservative voters. The ultimate question is will Americans of Polish descent who once supported Trump and the Republicans now sacrifice their political preferences and values to vote for politicians who are instead more pro-Ukraine? 10 million Americans of Polish descent who choose to vote could make quite an impact. Furthermore, conservatives of Central, and Eastern European descent and others who strongly support Ukraine could also choose not to vote Republican in the midterms and beyond if Party leaders continue to not condemn Russia’s threat. Even when living abroad, immigrants will often prioritize what is best for their homeland. Republican leaders such as Trump will need to prioritize the Slavic vote in this upcoming election if they hope to win.
2. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis
Governor DeSantis is the strongest potential candidate against former President Trump. An August poll conducted by Yahoo/YouGov shows that 49% of Republican voters or Republican-leaning voters would choose Trump as the 2024 Republican nominee, while 31% of voters would go for DeSantis. In June, Yahoo/YouGov conducted this identical survey and found similar results, 44% of GOP, or GOP-leaning voters would vote for Trump while 33% would vote for DeSantis. These results indicate that in the case of a DeSantis versus Trump 2024 Republican Primary campaign, DeSantis would dominate over the other Republican candidates; however, he doesn’t seem to have enough influence to round up a majority against Trump just yet. Still, this could change as Trump continues to face multiple legal battles and investigations such as the January 6th insurrection and the Mar-a-Lago raid. Perhaps Republican voters will prefer to opt in for a more predictable and younger nominee with less political baggage.
So far, DeSantis has raised $174,285,801 in funds ahead of the 2024 elections, this is more than any other potential candidate. However, there has been no clear indication that DeSantis will in fact run for president, he has stated himself that “…the media [is] just speculating.” Despite this, many Republicans find that DeSantis could be a better alternative to Trump as he is less polarizing and could, accordingly, have the potential to pull independent voters who would otherwise vote for Biden, but not vote for Trump. Republicans must decide if it will be better to continue the MAGA narrative, or rather to go for a more moderate, yet still strongly conservative candidate. Either way, DeSantis is gaining momentum as the “leading Donald Trump alternative.”
3. Former Vice President Mike Pence
Trump’s former vice president has a different vision compared to Trump on how America should be run. Pence stated recently, “I don’t know that the president and I differ on issues, but we may differ on focus.” It will likely be difficult for Pence to gain momentum in the race without the support of loyal Trump voters who potentially now see Pence as a traitor. Pence and Trump were not on good terms after Pence refused to overturn the 2020 election. Trump stated to a crowd in D.C. on January 6th, “Mike Pence, I hope you’re going to stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country, and if you’re not, I’m going to be very disappointed in you, I’ll tell you right now.” Pence defended himself by stating he had no legal authority to overturn the electoral college results. Nevertheless, Trump said this May that he continues to be “very disappointed in Mike.” Although the terms of their relationship today are not known to the public, Pence has not disrespected or gone against the man that made him vice president. Instead, his strategy has been to focus on the successes of the Trump-Pence presidency and do everything “to integrate himself with the Republican party.” Similar to DeSantis, Pence could have an advantage by not directly associating himself with Trump. Pence is another more moderate, “little Trump.” Still, how far Pence can really make it without his former boss at his side is debatable.
Possible Top Democrat Candidates 2024
1. President Joe Biden or Vice President Harris
Biden’s “universal name” helped him win this past election. People wanted a familiar name and face that could successfully compete against Trump. In reality, many people were not voting for Biden or his potential as much as they were voting against Trump. Exit polling data confirmed that “44% of Biden voters cast vote ‘against’ Trump rather than in support of the Democratic nominee.” This further can be reflected in Biden’s 55% disapproval rating and polls indicating that voters are not confident in voting for Biden again. A CNN poll found that 75% of Democrat voters want somebody else other than Biden to represent them in this upcoming election. Although Biden’s past statements confirm he will run for reelection, his cognitive decline and inability to form a sentence cause many to have doubt. It will not come as a surprise if Vice President Kamala Harris will take the stand for Biden in the end. Politico author Jack Shafer summarizes the situation best, “Harris isn’t running for president in 2024, of course, she is just walking: assuming that Biden will repeat, but gathering her grit for a run should he not.”
2. Pete Buttigieg US Secretary of Transportation
Buttigieg was virtually a non-existent name in the mainstream media prior to the 2020 elections. He placed fifth in the presidential primaries before dropping his bid to officially endorse Biden. The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana is now deemed to be a qualified 2024 Biden replacement because of his young age (40) and political experience. He currently serves as the US Secretary of Transportation and “has been the public face of the bipartisan infrastructure bill President Biden signed into law in November.” This former naval officer who served in Afghanistan also has various past experiences conducting high-profile political campaigns. A new poll on the 2024 race shows that he currently holds a “narrow lead over President Joe Biden in New Hampshire, traditionally the first state to hold a Democratic primary for president.” Even if it is only a small indication, it does give Buttigieg some potential that he could be a good competitor. His personality is described as calm and charismatic, but will Buttigieg be influential enough to win a majority?
3. Democratic Nominee for Georgia Governor, Stacey Abrams
At this moment Abrams is more of an outlier candidate. She is currently running as the Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia but doesn’t seem to hold an advantage over her Republican governor Kemp. Abrams has stated that she is planning on running for president eventually at some point in her career, but if she loses against her Republican opponent, the Democrats might encourage her to not wait any longer. Abrams has been recognized as the “rising star” in the Democratic Party. She is largely responsible for turning the “Peach State” blue last presidential election which hadn’t been witnessed in almost 30 years. Abrams is more far left in her views but could be appealing to young voters who embrace the woke culture spreading in America.
What the Results of the Mid-terms Will Determine
For now, the focus is on the upcoming midterm elections. Accordingly, the results of the midterms will set the tone for the presidential primaries which will officially take place at the start of 2024. A Democratic Congress would allow Democrats to set limits to what Trump could do if he was reelected in 2024. For example, “some House Democrats have already proposed legislation to make it harder for a president to filter out federal government workers who don’t agree with them, and to strengthen protections for whistleblowers in the federal government.” Essentially, the Democrats are attempting to implement ways that would allow them to still hold their control in case they lose the 2024 presidential elections.
Some Democrats have voiced their fear that if Congress flips Republican during the midterms then, “we are setting the stage for Donald Trump to be handed the presidency in 2024.” They are so anxious about this potential situation that they claim, “The 2022 battle cry needs to be, ‘A vote for House Republicans, is a vote to destroy democracy.’” Besides making it harder for Trump to potentially govern as president again, the Democrats promise, if they win Congress in November, to implement abortion rights into federal law and possibly will even codify same-sex marriage.
On the other hand, a Republican Congress will likely lead to a Biden family crime investigation, particularly concerning Biden’s son Hunter. Republicans have also promised to conduct “detailed investigations into the Biden administration’s immigration policies, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.” Furthermore, a Republican Congress would mean that Biden’s future judicial and political nominees would likely be blocked. Republicans would also continue to prioritize issues such as immigration and border security, violent crime, as well as domestic, oil, and gas drilling.
Current predictions forecast that Republicans are favored to win the House. Regarding the Senate, Democrats are only slightly favored to win. What will really happen will be known very soon. The results will largely determine what Biden and the Democrats will be able to accomplish in their remaining term. Furthermore, even if the presidential primaries are over a year away, Democrats are still attempting to do everything they can to block another Trump presidency. Evidentially, the rivalry between Biden and Trump continues. Odds are likely that the world could see a repeat of Trump versus Biden in 2024.
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