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100 days before midterm elections: Biden’s moment of truth


Analyse

Status: 07/31/2022 07:00 a.m

Governing is already difficult for US President Biden – many projects fail in the Senate. The “midterms” are coming up soon, during which he could also lose the secure support of the House of Representatives.

Von Armin Ghassim, ARD-Studio Washington

On November 8, exactly 100 days from now, US President Joe Biden may suffer the same fate as his predecessors. It is almost customary in the US for the president to be punished in the midterm elections. Most polls indicate that it will be the same this time: Biden’s approval ratings are about as bad as those of his predecessor Donald Trump before the 2018 midterm elections. According to a poll by “USA Today” and Suffolk University, only 39 percent of the Citizens satisfied with him, 56 percent are dissatisfied.

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Most polling institutes assume that the Republicans will win the majority in the House of Representatives, which will be elected in all states and completely. So far, Biden’s Democrats have had a majority here, which makes it easy for him to push through his ideas, at least there.

The forecasts for the Senate polls are balanced. Here, all eyes will be on Nevada, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia, where close races are expected. So far, the seats in the Senate are split 50/50. This is already making it difficult for Biden to govern, because individual opponents from within his own ranks can block his ideas, such as Senator Joe Manchin on climate policy.

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It’s about Biden’s ability to act

So the midterms will be about nothing less than Biden’s ability to govern: If the Democrats lose both the House of Representatives and the Senate to the Republicans, the President will hardly be able to push through a law. He could then only rule by executive decree. A quick but unsustainable remedy, because these decrees could be immediately rescinded by the next president.

In addition, without a Democratic majority in Congress, the investigative committee against Trump over the Capitol storm of January 6, 2021 would come to nothing, because Republicans are almost completely opposed to the investigation.

Above all, the economy is crucial

The dominant topic for most Americans right now is the economy. Inflation is at its highest level in 40 years. And just this week, official numbers showed that gross domestic product shrank for the second quarter in a row. This means that the criterion for a recession has been met. Many people in the USA already feel the problems in everyday life. Around half of those surveyed in the USA Today poll say they have to cut back on food, especially those on low household incomes.

Biden rightly points out that the sharp increases in key interest rates were deliberately used to slow down the overheated economy. The US Federal Reserve wants to contain the high inflation of 9.1 percent. However, the consequences of a slowed-down economy will probably also be job losses. On the other hand, he can also point to successes with the petrol price, which has been falling for weeks.

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According to the survey, other hotly contested issues such as border policy, weapons laws or climate policy are taking a back seat to many voters. But one thing still stands out: the dispute over abortion rights. The Democrats are hoping for advantages here. Because after the decision of the Supreme Court, several Republican-led states have already passed massive restrictions on abortion rights. The Republican hardliners could become the best argument for the Democrats, at least that’s what the party hopes.

Trenches also within the parties

But rifts run not only between, but also within the parties. On the Republican side, it runs between Trump supporters and opponents, with the former being in the majority. Trump has publicly endorsed certain Republican candidates in many quarters, an interference on a scale no ex-president has dared before. It will be interesting to see if “his” candidates now win the midterms in view of Trump’s chances for the 2024 Republican nomination.

In the Republican primaries, most had benefited from his support, but Republican voters chose the opposing candidates significantly more often than during Trump’s presidency. In the hotly contested key state of Georgia, for example, his four candidates lost with a bang to Republican opponents.

On the Democratic side, as before Biden’s election, the split runs between the moderate Biden camp and the progressive wing. He accuses him of not having done enough on issues such as climate protection and the rights of refugees and migrants. However, to be able to do more, he urgently needs majorities in Congress. In all likelihood, this will become even more difficult after the elections in 100 days.

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