With rising inflation, an ongoing pandemic, a Russian war in Ukraine and now an impending Supreme Court ruling on abortion, the stakes are high as Americans prepare to go to the polls in November for the midterm elections.
“I have a lot of friends who are struggling right now,” said Brandon Legnion, a nurse in New Orleans, Louisiana. “Friends who can barely afford gas need to get themselves to job sites. I think many of them will be eager to vote and express their displeasure at the way the country is run.
The midterm not only marks the halfway point between the 2020 and 2024 US presidential elections, but will determine the political direction of the United States, by determining whether Democrats or Republicans will control the state’s houses, as well as those of President Biden. There will be an agreed Congress. Help drive your agenda.
Historically, midterm elections have not done well for the incumbent president’s political party, especially when – like Democratic President Joe Biden – he is in his first term in office.
“The question is not whether Democrats will lose seats during the midterm,” Charles Bullock, a political scientist at the University of Georgia, told VOA. “The question is how many seats are they going to lose.”
The tendency to damage the president’s party in the midterm is so well-known in America that some Democratic voters anticipate a difficult election cycle.
“I unfortunately think our country will swing dramatically to the right,” said Julie Bierschenko, a Democratic voter in Chicago, Illinois. “Things have felt so volatile with the pandemic, and everything involving the economy and racial justice, so I think Republicans will probably win. It’s a predictable never-ending cycle, like a pendulum swinging far/middle left, far right.”
Similarly, polling figures point to disaster for Democrats. An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll in late April found that 47% of respondents said they were more likely to vote for Republicans in their district, while 44% said they were more likely to vote for Democrats.
According to Marist, this is the first time in eight years his poll has revealed a Republican advantage.
Some Republicans say the gains are due to the Democratic Party’s failure to control the White House and lead the country despite having a small majority in Congress.
“Under President Biden, Americans face skyrocketing inflation, insane gas prices, high taxes, and a completely out-of-control Southern border,” said Representative Michelle Steele, a California Republican who was re-elected in November. ready for.
Steele told the VOA that he expected a big win for his party in the mid-term this year.
“It’s not just Republicans,” she said. “This year voters of all backgrounds will vote Republican.”
To her point, the NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found that independent voters—a significant swing group—supported Republicans from 45% to 38% over Democrats.
Another area of concern among Democrats is President Biden’s struggling approval rating, which currently stands at just 41% — similar to former President Donald Trump, at this point in his presidency, and well below all other recent presidents.
Political scientist Bullock explained, “A president’s approval rating is certainly a factor in how his party performs in elections.” “Biden is not regarded as a very good leader and if his approval rating drops below 40%, it is hard to imagine how Democrats will be able to secure their majority in Congress.”
In addition to President Biden’s impact on the midterm, some Republican voters, such as Florida’s Jill Dani, believe former President Trump’s absence from the ballot will help their favorite party’s chances.
“Biden won in 2020 because Democrats and even some Republicans hated Trump,” she told VOA. “Now they don’t have Trump, so the blame for our handling of the economy and Russia is being directed right at the current president. Immigration is still a mess and inflation is pathetic. I think the Democrats in November are going to take a big hit.” are in for a surprise and they are not going to be happy with it.”
“Many voters don’t realize that the majority of Democrats is so thin, Republicans are able to block most of their agenda with filibuster,” Bullock said. “Instead, many voters view Democrats and Biden as ineffective.”
Bullock says that some of this perception, however, is self-inflicted.
“Instead of talking about the things they’ve accomplished, such as a big COVID-19 recovery bill and an infrastructure spending package, Democrats and their voters have stopped talking about the Build Back Better Act and the Voting Rights Act,” he said. are also not implemented,” he said. “Combine that with the inflation pain Americans experience every time they go to the supermarket or gas station, and that really puts a target on the Democrats’ backs.”
Most Americans say inflation is their top concern. In April, the US Department of Labor reported an 8.5% jump in consumer prices, the sharpest such climb since 1981.
Legionnion, an independent voter, said it was hard not to realize that it had anything to do with the priorities of the president and his party.
“I’ve never experienced inflation like this before,” he said, “and it seems that maybe we should focus on fixing this country, rather than the government sending money around the world to help others.” is.”
six months away
In an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, only 39% of respondents acknowledged how President Biden is handling the economy. Only 44% acknowledge how he is dealing with the situation in Ukraine, down 52% from March.
One major issue in which Democrats still have an advantage is in their handling of the coronavirus. Survey respondents were 12 percentage points more likely to trust them than Republicans on the issue.
“As a health care worker, I can tell you that Democrats at least portray themselves as more compassionate to frontline workers, and more concerned about getting the crisis under control,” Legionnian said. said.
Still, this trust does not appear to be turning into potential votes as the mid-term elections near.
“In many people’s minds, the pandemic is over,” said Corinne Glaser, a Democratic voter from Los Angeles, California. “If we’re saying things like, ‘Now that we’re out of the pandemic,’ and ‘after the pandemic,’ then the coronavirus is definitely not going to be a priority in this election.”
But, with six months until the medium term, experts like Bullock warn that a lot can change.
“If a new version shows up, for example, and puts the coronavirus back front and center,” he said, “or if inflation calms down or Biden is considered a leader with respect to Ukraine, it Might affect how mid-term elections are playing out.”
Bullock said there are other potential positives that Democrats could hold.
For example, he said the voting figures appear to be improving slightly for Democrats. And Republicans have more vulnerable Senate seats up for election they’ll need to defend.
“And, because the Democrats didn’t do well in the Congressional portion of the 2020 election, they don’t have as many seats to lose as the president’s party usually does in the midterm,” Bullock said. “While it is almost certain that Democrats will lose seats, it may not be as bad as some predict.”
Other issues may still arise to change the trajectory of the race. For example, the recently leaked Supreme Court abortion ruling may excite voters.
Already, Democratic politicians are framing the midterm elections as an opportunity for voters to defend their rights. The message is resonating with some Americans like Glazer.
“These elections represent our best opportunity to protect marginalized groups,” she said. “A Supreme Court with Trump-nominated justices is doing damage that will last for years, like reversing a woman’s right to choose. We need to make sure everyone gets out to vote and everyone’s votes are counted. Count so that we can protect the Democratic majority in Congress.”