With two weeks to go before the midterm elections in the United States , crucial for the remaining two years of the Joe Biden administration, Republicans appear well placed to wrest the Democratic president his majority in Congress.
The loss of control of the House of Representatives and the Senate on November 8 would be a heavy defeat for the tenant of the White House, who in the polls benefited until recently from a rebound, undermined by the difficulties of the US economy.
The high price of gasoline, of food, of Halloween treats: the Republican opposition, including Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, constantly criticizes the record inflation under the government of Biden and his party, by far the main concern of voters, according to opinion polls.
What is voted in the elections?
In these “midterms”, as these elections are called in English, Americans are called to renew all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and a third of the Senate in Washington. Several governorships and local elected officials are also in contention.
What do the polls say?
Organized two years after the presidential elections, the mid-term elections become a de facto referendum on the management of the occupant of the White House. The president’s party rarely escapes the vote of sanction. According to the most recent opinion polls, the Republican opposition has a good chance of winning the lower house. Polls are more divided on the future of the Senate.
“The polls say one thing and then the opposite,” Biden said Monday. “Republicans in the lead, Democrats in the lead, Republicans in the lead,” he said during a speech to members of his party. “But I think it’s going to end with one final twist: Democrats in the lead.”
Given the growing discontent with inflation and the risk of a recession that reduce the chances of electoral success, the Democratic leader appeals to the outrage over the decision of the Supreme Court to revoke the sentence that almost half a century ago established the right to abortion to national level, with a view to capturing votes from the left and center.
On November 8, “Americans have a choice,” Biden insists. And he urges his fellow citizens to trust him with enough majorities in Congress to re-legalize abortion nationwide, protect same-sex marriage and ban assault rifles.
For the defense of these values, or for the rejection of the president’s policy, almost 8 million people have already voted early for the “midterms”, especially in the most disputed states, according to the US Elections Project electoral information site.
Which choices should you pay attention to?
The battle for control of the US Congress is taking place in a handful of key states, the same ones that weighed in the 2020 presidential elections.
All the spotlights are on Pennsylvania, where Mehmet Oz, a Trump-endorsed doctor-turned-TV star, is up against a bald-headed colossus who never takes off his sweatshirt, Democrat John Fetterman, for a seat in the US Senate. .
As in 2020, Georgia is also in the spotlight. Democrat Raphael Warnock, the first black senator elected in this state with a strong segregationist past, is trying to be re-elected against Herschel Walker, a former African-American athlete, supported by Trump.
These crucial duels are fueled by hundreds of millions of dollars. Arizona, Nevada, Ohio, Wisconsin and North Carolina are also the scene of intense races, with Democratic candidates opposing Trump supporters.
The ex-tenant of the White House, besieged by parliamentary and judicial investigations, threw himself headlong into the campaign, multiplying the acts throughout the country. These elections are a litmus test for the political future of the Republican billionaire, who is openly flirting with a presidential candidacy in 2024.
Biden, close to turning 80, with mental agility in decline according to his fiercest detractors, also repeats that he “intends” to be a candidate again, foreshadowing a possible “remake” of the 2020 duel.
What are the most important issues for voters?
From inflation to the right to abortion, going through crime, immigration and the defense of democracy: the concerns of American voters are diverse, but some will weigh more than others when voting on November 8.
Rising prices are the number one concern of American households, according to all surveys. The Republican opposition accuses President Joe Biden and his Democratic Party of being responsible for rising inflation.
“Nowadays, from shopping to refueling, everything is more expensive,” denounces the conservative candidate Jen Kiggans, in a campaign ad in which she drives a car.
Democrats have avoided talking about this issue, fearing it will hurt them. But they run the risk of appearing disconnected from reality.
The current president of the House of Representatives and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, urged her co-religionists this weekend to give “a clear and convincing message” on inflation.
The right to abortion is the ace up the sleeve of the progressive candidates, after the Supreme Court revoked in June the historic 1973 ruling that enshrined the right to interrupt pregnancy at the national level.
The decision of the highest court in the country gave Democrats a rebound in opinion polls, fueling speculation about a possible Democratic victory in these mid-term elections, traditionally unfavorable to the party of the incumbent president.
In addition, the Democrats were galvanized by a referendum organized in early August in the very conservative state of Kansas, where voters rallied to reject a constitutional amendment hostile to abortion.
Two weeks before the election, however, opinion polls show that abortion is no longer the top priority for Americans.
The Republicans have instead made crime, on the rise in the country according to federal police data, one of their main angles of attack. They accuse the Democrats of being incapable of guaranteeing the safety of Americans.
In Pennsylvania, one of the most battleground states of these “midterms,” Republican candidate Mehmet Oz constantly accuses his Democratic opponent John Fetterman of being “soft on crime.”
Democrats have tried to quell these accusations by passing a series of bills in recent weeks that are supposed to improve police recruitment and training in the United States. This upset the left wing of the party, which has campaigned to reduce police funding since the death of African-American George Floyd, killed by a white police officer.
Immigration, always an explosive issue in the United States, is even more so a few weeks before the elections. The Republican opposition accuses the Democrats of having turned the border with Mexico into a sieve.
The United States recorded more than two million migrant apprehensions at this border between October 2021 and August 2022. A record number, which includes repeat offenders.
The Republicans assure that this irregular immigration feeds the traffic of fentanyl in the United States, a synthetic opiate up to 50 times more powerful than heroin, responsible for the death of thousands of young people in the country.
The cultural battles
The Republicans also promise a “future based on freedom”, in particular in the country’s schools, the subject of heated debates in recent years about confinement, the use of masks, anti-Covid vaccination or the teaching of racism. This position seems to find echo in its bases.
The Conservatives have also continued their crackdown on transgender athletes by advocating that “only women be allowed to participate in women’s sports competitions”.
Instead, Democrats are calling for expanded protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans (LGBT) people.
The defense of democracy
The defense of democracy has become a new concern of American voters, after a series of parliamentary committee hearings investigating former President Donald Trump, as well as his supporters’ attack on the US Congress on January 6, 2021.
The former president continues to claim, without evidence, that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him, a thesis to which millions of his supporters and hundreds of Republican candidates for the November 8 elections adhere.
Climate change, the great absentee
Despite repeated environmental disasters across the country this year, the topic of global warming was rarely addressed during this campaign.
Yet according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll, nearly 80% of Democrats believe climate change is “very important,” compared to just 27% of Republicans.
With information from AFP