BY T.N. ASHOK
The United States goes to polls for the midterms to the Senate and the House of Congress on November 8 in one of the fiercest electoral battles ever over burning issues as voters get polarised along party lines to vote on gun control, crime, abortion rights, inflation and high price of groceries and gas in what promises to be the most defining moment in American history.
Candidates contesting the 35 seats for the Senate and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives in the Congress are all locked in the closest race ever with Democrats and Republicans alike holding a slight edge over each other in most states, especially in the eight battleground states where Republicans seem to enjoy the popular vote but swing voters could change the scenario completely.
The swing voters are characterised by the uneducated young Latino voters’ college dropouts, who don’t have a job and has been hit hard by the inflation that touched a 40-year high of 13 per cent in August this year.
Whatever Tuesday’s verdict be, the going will get tougher for incumbent President Joe Biden, who has a seen massive dip in popularity and there are concerns about his cognitive functions as he nears 80, and Donald Trump emerging out of the shadows of legal battles over tax fraud cases in lower Manhattan, the expected indictment over his involvement in the Jan 6 Capitol Hill insurrection, and stashing of 11,000 documents in his Florida home with the Department of Justice (DoJ) crying for his blood under the espionage act under the Biden administration.
Poll predictions show that Trump candidates are neck-and-neck or in with a wafer-thin majority over the Democratic candidates in at least 11 states for the Senate, including eight battleground ones.
The most important Pennsylvania Senator and Governor John Fetterman is down on the popular vote at 46 per cent against Trump-backed Mehmet Oz at 48 per cent, but the swing vote could make a difference in favour of Fetterman, predictions show.
Trump has already got cold feet calling the Penn elections in a repeat of the 2020 stolen election rhetoric as “they have rigged Pennsylvania”, media reports claim.
Here is the breakdown for a few key states:
Missouri: Republican Schmidt (50 per cent) is ahead of Valentine (41 per cent)
Wisconsin: Johnson (R-47 per cent) is ahead of Barnes (D-45 per cent)
Georgia: Walker (R-49 per cent) is ahead of Warnock (D-45 per cent), but it could be a tight race with swing votes as popular football player Walker faces a lot criticism over his involvement in dubious schemes
New Hampshire: Harrison (D-51 per cent) seems a clear winner over Bolduc (R-41 per cent)
Arizona: Kelly (D-48 per cent) is neck-and-neck with Mastello (R-47 per cent)
Ohio: Vance is 5 per cent ahead on the popular vote with 48 per cent against Democrat Ryan’s 43 per cent
North Carolina: Republican Budd is way ahead at 50 per cent over Democrat Beasley at 43 per cent
Florida: Rubio is ahead with 51 per cent against his Democrat rival Val Deming at 43 per cent, gallup polls by different agencies indicate. However, But Florida could be a toss-up as Trump and incumbent Governor Ron DeSantis, projected to be the next Republican candidate for Presidency in 2024, are locked in a war of words in the poll campaigns against each other. This might give the edge to the Democrats, media reports say.
Oregon: Wyden (D-51 per cent) is way ahead of his rival Perkins (R-34 per cent).
Nevada: Republican Laxalt (50 per cent) is ahead of Democrat Cortez Masters (45 per cent).
To match the powerful rhetoric of Trump, two former Presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, under whom Biden was VP for eight years, had to rush in and make last ditch efforts to save the incumbent President from not losing either the Senate or the House. Obama literally jetted to campaign for Biden in eight battleground states while Biden carefully avoided them.
At present, the Senate is equally divided with 50 seats each for the Democrats and Republicans with Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaking advantage for the former. In the House, Democrats have a wafer-thin majority with 220 votes against 212 of the Republicans.
Multiple Gallup polls and poll pundits predict that the Republicans could gain 10 more seats in the Senate to become the major party controlling the chamber, while they may not make much headway in the House, gaining about five to six seats to reduce their margin to 217 against Democrats’ 220.
Both parties need to garner 270 seats in the 435-member House to get an absolute majority. But this is not going to happen, as the bicameral legislature of the US Congress is heading for a precipice where neither party can force their way that would lead to a grid lock on legislations, leading election observers and authorities’ claim.
The BBC and The Guardian claim that while Biden is not on the ballot, the midterms definitely will take a call on who controls the US Congress as well as the legislatures in the states and the governors’ offices, 34 of which are up for grabs in the midterms.
Tuesday’s midterms will have a momentous impact on the policies the US government under Biden will have to pursue in the remaining two years of his Presidency.
The fate of Biden will also be decided in terms of his popularity with the public giving a definite indication to the Democratic party as to whether he should be fielded in the 2024 Presidential election. The future of the party would be called into question.
On the flip side, the Republican party is now divided over Trump because of his legal baggage could close their ranks as Trump has promised he would announce his run for the Presidency for the 2024 general elections by the end of November.
Trump wanted to jump the gun, but his advisors held him back. But his funders are still shying away, not wanting to bet on him, reports claim, as they see him as a losing horse in the Presidential elections and would rather back a fresh face like Ron DeSantis, Florida Governor, in the tough man Trumpian mould but with no legal baggage.
Here’s the political scenario: If Biden loses control of one of the two chambers of the Congress, most likely the Senate and not the House, he is going to have a tough time getting his progressive legislations passed in the House. Republicans will use the filibuster of 60 votes to thwart the introduction of any bill by the Democrats.
Democrats would have to find other ways to introduce bills as they did with the inflation reduction act by making it part of a larger budgetary exercise.
Democrat voters, especially womenm are coming out in hordes to vote for restoration of the abortion rights overturned by the Supreme Court.
As per BBC, while both parties have proposed nationwide laws concerning abortion rights if they are in control of Congress after the midterms, at a state level, the results of Governor and local races could mean further abortion restrictions in some states.
The Jan 6 Congressional panel hearings in the Capitol Hills insurrection and Trump’s incitement of voters and DOJ investigations into the classified documents stashed in the ex-President’s Florida home coming under the espionage act will all totter. A section of the Republican party has vowed to scrap the Jan 6 Congressional panel and launch their own investigation into Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden and his business ties with China if they gain control of the 435-member House.
Whatever the outcome, if Republicans win either of the Congressional chambers, America is in for a major gridlock on sensitive and critical issues such as gun control, crime, violence and abortion rights that will clearly divide the united nature of the United States of America. (IANS)