WASHINGTON (HPD) — A tense election campaign that has rekindled political differences in the United States and raised questions about its commitment to a democratic future ended Tuesday as voters went to the polls in the first national election under President Donald Trump. Joe Biden.
The polls opened as Democrats braced for disappointing results and feared losing control of the U.S. House of Representatives, and that their once-seen majority in the Senate would be whittled away. Party governors in states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Nevada also faced serious Republican challenges.
Returning to the White House after his final campaign rally, Biden said he believed they would win the Senate, but admitted “the House is more difficult.”
For its part, the Republican Party faced the day with optimism and bet that a message focused on the economy, fuel prices and crime would mobilize the electorate at a time of soaring inflation and rising violence. Ultimately, they hoped that the outrage over the Supreme Court’s decision to eliminate women’s constitutional right to abortion would have dissipated and that the mid-term elections would have become a more traditional assessment of the president’s work.
“It will be a referendum on the incompetence of this administration,” said Minnesota Republican Rep. Tom Emmer, who was leading Republican efforts to retake the House.
The results could have a profound impact on the last two years of Biden’s term. If the Republicans control even one chamber of Congress, the president would be vulnerable to a series of investigations into his family and his government while defending the achievements of his measures, such as a large infrastructure package and another for health and social spending. . A more entrenched Republican party could also complicate raising the debt ceiling and put more restrictions on additional support for Ukraine in the war with Russia.
If Republicans do especially well, taking seats from Democrats in places like New Hampshire and Washington state, pressure could mount on Biden not running for re-election in 2024. Former President Donald Trump, meanwhile, , could try to take advantage of the Republican advances to officially launch another presidential campaign during his “huge announcement” in Florida next week.
The election comes at a time of instability in the United States, which emerged from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic this year only to encounter severe economic challenges. The Supreme Court struck down the constitutional right to abortion, stripping away protections that had been in place for five decades.
And in the first national election since the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the federal Capitol, the country’s democratic future is in doubt. People involved in or around the deadly attack were expected to win elected office on Tuesday, including in the House of Representatives. Several Republican candidates for state secretary of state, such as those running in Arizona, Nevada and Michigan, have refused to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election. If they win on Tuesday, they would be in charge of managing future votes in states to often decisive in the presidential elections.
Democrats admit the trend is working against them. With rare exceptions, the president’s party loses seats in its first midterm election. The dynamic is especially complicated given Biden’s low approval rating, which made many Democrats on tight ballots shy about running alongside him.
Just 43% of American adults said they approved of Biden’s job as president, according to an October poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. In the same poll, just 25% said the country was headed in the right direction.
Biden allies have expressed hope that voters will push back against Republicans who have contributed to an extreme political environment.
“I think what we see now is that a party has a moral compass,” said Cedric Richmond, who was Biden’s White House adviser and now works at the Democratic National Committee. “And one party wants to seize power.”
It was a message that appealed to Kevin Tolbert, a 49-year-old labor law worker from Southfield, Michigan. He had planned to support Democratic candidates, worried about the future of democracy.
“It’s something that needs to be protected, and we protect it by voting and going out and supporting our country,” Tolbert said. “We are in a fragile space. I think it’s very important that we protect it, because we could end up like some of the things we’ve seen in the past, dictators and stuff. We don’t need that.”
But in Maryland, where Democrats have one of the greatest chances to clinch a Democratic governor’s seat, Shawn Paulson said there were “too many questions, not enough investigations” about the 2020 election results.
“It shouldn’t be a negative or illegal thing in any way to talk about what’s going to be done to improve security,” said Paulson, 45, who chairs the Kent County Republican Central Committee.
Election and state officials and Trump’s attorney general have said there is no credible evidence that the 2020 election was rigged. The former president’s fraud allegations were also forcefully rejected in court, including by Trump-appointed judges.
There are 34 Senate seats up for grabs with tight races in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin and Arizona that could decide which party controls a chamber now split 50/50, with Vice President Kamala Harris the tiebreaker. Democrats are aiming to win seats in Ohio and North Carolina, while the GOP thinks it can take seats from Democratic senators in Nevada and perhaps New Hampshire.
Additionally, 36 states elect governors, and Democrats are especially focused on retaining control of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. All three crucial presidential states have Republican-majority state chambers, and their Republican gubernatorial hopefuls have repeated Trump’s 2020 election lies.
Republican gubernatorial victories could mean tougher election laws and ultimately not impede efforts to delegitimize the 2024 election if Trump or any other Republican candidate loses it.
Associated Press writers Corey Williams in Southfield, Michigan, and Gary Fields in Chestertown, Maryland, contributed to this report.