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The Democratic Party’s midterm prospects have been hampered by President Joe Biden’s low approval rating, high gas prices, and an unsteady economy, but the tables may be turning in a more favorable direction for the party just months before the heated 2022 midterm elections.
Political pundits have predicted a red wave, but the mood of the electorate may be shifting in the closing months before November. On Thursday, the Cook Political Report deemed Senate control this fall a “toss-up,” following recent polls that suggested several Republican candidates are trailing behind their Democratic opponents in key races.
Cook recently changed the Pennsylvania Senate race between Dr. Mehmet Oz and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman from a “toss-up” to “lean Democrat.” Another election survey from AARP/Fabrizio Ward & Impact Research suggested that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was leading in the gubernatorial race against trump-endorsed Tudor Dixon.
A Fox News poll of Wisconsin voters found Barnes was leading over Johnson 50-46%. Another Fox poll in Arizona reported Sen. Mark Kelly holds an 8-point lead over trump-backed Blake Masters in the Senate race.
While attending the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell revealed his skepticism going into the midterms, “I think when all is said and done this fall, we’re likely to have an extremely close Senate. Either our side up slightly or their side up slightly.”
Democratic National Committee (DNC) senior spokesperson Elena Kuhn told Fox News in an exclusive statement that she believes the Democrats are in a strong position headed into the final stages of midterm cycle.
“President Biden and Democrats have delivered win after win for the American people,” Kuhn said. “We took on special interests and won by passing the highly popular Inflation Reduction Act to lower costs for families and finally making big corporations pay their fair share. We delivered veterans the health care they deserve, expanded American manufacturing to compete with China and create good-paying jobs, made a once-in-a-generation investment in our infrastructure, and passed the American Rescue Plan, which led to historically low unemployment and record job growth.”
“Voters will have a clear choice in November between Democrats who delivered for them, and Republicans who have repeatedly tried to stand in the way and are pushing an extreme agenda that costs families,” Kuhn concluded.
Republicans are vying to take back control of the Senate and the House of Representatives this fall, expecting that Biden’s continuously low approval rating and the Democrats major spending bills will encourage more Americans to vote for Republican candidates in November.
Nathan Brand, a Republican National Committee (RNC) spokesperson, said he sees Democrats’ latest political “wins” as major vulnerabilities for Democratic candidates going into the fall.
“Joe Biden is one of the least popular presidents in modern history, Democrats tout tax hikes as ‘wins,’ and Americans are living paycheck to paycheck,” Brand said. “Democrats have enriched left-wing special interests and done nothing to alleviate the pain struggling Americans face every day because of Joe Biden. Biden remains a burden to every Democrat running in November.”
President Joe Biden has been barred by an underwater approval rating all year. In June, his national approval hit the all-time low of his presidency at 31%. In addition, many Democratic representatives, mainly those seeking re-election this fall, have been hesitant to endorse the president for a 2024 run, and some have said he should not seek re-election at all.
In June, inflation hit a 40-year-high of 9.1% and the prices of gas and consumer goods were soaring. The most recent gross domestic product (GDP) dropped 0.6 percentage points to 8.5% in July, but is still significantly higher than the same time last year. Following the reports, Biden’s approval saw a slight increase, but still remains low.
Despite economic setbacks, Democrats have celebrated recent victories over the past few weeks, beginning with the primary election in Kansas where abortion was on the ballot. Kansas voters rejected a state constitutional amendment to allow restrictions on abortion.
Abortion, a major midterm issue following the Supreme Court’s June decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and return the issue to the states, got its first test on the ballot earlier this summer. Kansas voters took to the polls to reject, by an overwhelming margin, an amendment to make it easier for lawmakers to ban abortion in the state. The result in a typically reliable red state surprised many political observers and affirmed what many Democrats had been saying since the Dobbs ruling: abortion is a winning issue.
Democrats success at passing the CHIPS and Science Act, the bipartisan PACT Act, and finally the controversial Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, have also provided them with campaign wins to message to midterm voters.
The Inflation Reduction Act, which is a water-downed version of the failed Build Back Better Act, was introduced by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., after months of negotiations. The bill was quickly pushed through the House and Senate for a vote, before heading to the President’s desk where it was signed into law.
The new climate and tax legislation received serious backlash, after several reports found that the IRS provision in the bill would hire approximately 87,000 new agents and potentially increase audits on working-class Americans. The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) reported the bill would increase taxes on individuals making less than $400k per year and have little impact on inflation reduction.
Several polls suggest that the Democrat’s focus on climate change and access to abortion are motivating their base more than tackling inflation and economic concerns, which could indicate that recent legislation addressing climate change, and pushback on the SCOTUS abortion decision, are factors in Biden’s slight boost in approval and a more favorable Senate outlook.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy recently talked to Fox News about the midterm election. “We’ll win the majority, and I’ll be speaker,” he said, revealing the GOP remains confident they will come out on top this November given the current political climate.