The midterm campaign once looked like it would spark Biden’s low approval ratings. But Democrats have some momentum after the Supreme Court struck down the constitutional right to abortion and the president’s approval ratings began to rise amid falling gas prices.
After predicting that the curse of the first-term president’s midterm elections would lead to a Republican wave, the GOP now appears to be burying its most effective message — linked to rampant inflation under Biden — by reigniting the culture wars.
Add to all this the fact that former President Donald Trump still falsely claims to have won the last election and makes dark references to possible violence when speaking in the mob if he is accused of mishandling highly classified documents.
Seven weeks from Election Day, unpredictable and possibly dangerous political forces are growing and it is difficult to resolve the issues that will decide whether Democrats will hold on to both chambers of Congress or lose one or both.
Of course, this could just be Biden being Biden. His verbal remarks are often shot back by his staff. But his statement and a similar one last week by first lady Jill Biden, who said they did not discuss a re-election race, will fuel speculation.
“Look, my intention, as I said to begin with, is that I would run again. But it’s just an intention. But is it a firm decision to run again? That remains to be seen,” Biden told CBS’ Scott Pelley. on “60 Minutes.”
Biden, whose life has been affected by tragedy, has often said that he has “great respect for destiny”. He would be over 80 years old if he were to run again, and a lot could happen before the 2024 election, in which Trump is already indicating he will run.
But Biden’s remarks were striking because he left himself out. They are likely to renew questions about who might be the Democratic nominee instead of him in 2024 — a legacy of speculation that quieted after the president’s last legislative success.
DeSantis seems to be eyeing 2024
DeSantis is a possible Republican nominee whether or not Trump runs. He has already used his platform to establish a formidable conservative power base on transgender issues and Covid-19 measures, which would be impressive in a Republican presidential primary.
Far from Florida, Kansas received a standing ovation on Sunday for sending migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, a move critics hailed as un-American and inhumane.
In some ways, DeSantis and Graham’s attempts to appeal to the populist base suggest a political misstep by the party since the biggest year-over-year jump in food prices since 1979 looks set to win Republicans a campaign issue.
But while a sharp focus on the economy is a priority for GOP leaders, grassroots voters are often drawn to the kind of flawed politics that Trump and DeSantis have pioneered. At times, the GOP seems locked in a perpetual primary cycle of appealing to its most passionate voters while ignoring the broader general electorate, which could be problematic for some of the Trump-backed candidates who won this year’s primaries.
It’s too early to call a November election, as Republicans still see themselves well-positioned to take the House and within striking distance of capturing the Senate. History suggests Democrats are reeling, but earlier predictions of a Republican wave look shakier, as a new NBC News poll shows Democrats pulling into a tie with the GOP in the overall vote and Biden’s approval rating at its highest point since October. Democratic momentum has grown as the GOP returns to the culture war book, especially after the Supreme Court’s June abortion decision.
Unexpected twists and turns with Election Day less than two months away are throwing the 2022 campaign into disarray, making it much harder to predict who will emerge victorious in a nation estranged within the party.
All of this is taking place against the backdrop of Trump’s 2020 campaign for revenge, and his unwillingness to admit what he lost, and his deeper legal problems following the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago. . His rhetoric was dark and stirring at a rally in Ohio on Saturday. But the ubiquity of the former president, who has not been charged with a crime, risks reminding many more moderate voters why they turned against him.
The danger of going too far
Democrats moved to take advantage of the openings provided by DeSantis and Graham.
“Immigrants are human beings and we need to treat them as human beings. They are being used as political pawns to get publicity,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
“This is the damage of our whole country,” he added.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, compared the recent immigration stances of Republican governors, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who last week barred immigrants from Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence. — The Trump administration’s tough anti-immigrant policies.
“Why is it that when Republicans want to enforce their immigration theories, it’s always the kids who end up being the victims,” Durbin said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We’ve seen children put in cages. We’ve seen children forcibly removed from their parents, some never reunited with their families. And now, once again, it’s children and families being put on these buses and transported across the United States for political purposes.”
DeSantis argued that liberal states like Massachusetts, which have flown in migrants, are to blame for fueling the influx across the border, which he defied during a rally in deep red Kansas. “This is a crisis. Now it’s getting a little more attention,” DeSantis said.
While Republican approaches to the border often seem extreme, there may be some fertile political ground for the party on the issue, given that the Biden administration has not come up with a credible strategy to deal with border crossings. Earlier this month, Harris said on NBC that the border was “secure,” a statement that seemed to fly in the face of reality.
The Republican approach to immigration is a textbook example of how the two parties in a fractured nation appeal to vastly different constituencies. A Pew Research poll this month, for example, found that an overwhelming majority of conservatives wanted more border security and more deportations of undocumented migrants. Democrats, while seeing border security as important, were most concerned with finding a way to stay.
However, the majority of both voter groups have begun to support refugees fleeing war and violence. This is why DeSantis’ use of Venezuelan migrants fleeing a repressive socialist dictatorship could prove dangerous among voters.
It’s unclear whether this Republican terrain versus Trump’s populist rhetoric is a good recipe for winning the general election.
Former Democratic President Bill Clinton suggested in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria Sunday that this brand of relentless attack policy was designed to “terrify” people. Democrats, he argued, were trying to solve people’s problems, but that’s a goal with significant challenges.
“It’s harder to build a barn than it is to tear one down. And then when you build it, you have to explain what you built and why it’s good to have your animals in your barn,” Clinton said. “It’s more difficult, but it’s really worth doing.”
Graham has frustrated his colleagues
While DeSantis appears to be eyeing a future presidential bid by deliberately endorsing policies that cause outrage among Democrats, Graham is more curious.
Some Republicans in Washington have barely contained their frustration that the GOP has been forced to defend a new position, just as they are trying to contain the political damage from the Supreme Court’s decision. But Graham was unrepentant on “Fox News Sunday.”
“Here’s what I would say to the Republican Party: Don’t be afraid. Stand up baby,” Graham said. “When you are asked about abortion, the answer cannot be: “I would like to lower inflation”. Give a logical answer.’
In a sign of the political sensitivity of the issue, Republican Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota would not support his colleague’s “State of the Union” proposal on Sunday.
“I think the states are in a better position to explore and find the right direction on a state-by-state basis.”
Rounds, however, did not break with DeSantis and Abbott on the other major right-wing issue this week: immigration. The unity of that issue demonstrates how, just as it was for Trump in 2016, it appears to be a mobilizing force for the GOP base in 2022 and beyond.