US: Why are midterm elections crucial for President Joe Biden?
The midterm elections of the US scheduled for Tuesday are said to be crucial for the country's future and, more importantly, for President Joe Biden. The results will decide which party lands the reins to Congress, state legislatures, governor's offices, and mayoral offices. Held in the middle of Biden's term, the polls would act as a litmus test while the US economy struggles.
Why does this story matter?
- After the conservative Republican Party and former President Donald Trump was voted out in 2020, the anti-incumbent Democrats, led by their stalwart leader Joe Biden (79), came to power in 2021.
- However, Biden's approval ratings plummeted below 50% for over a year amid soaring inflation.
- A neck-and-neck contest is expected between both, which, if Democrats lose, could see Trump returning to power in 2024.
Inflation in US at 40-year high
As per a new NBC poll, 72% of American voters believed that the US is headed in the "wrong direction," while only 21% considered things to be going well. Despite 10.3 million citizens bagging jobs in Biden's tenure, inflation has reached a 40-year high. If the Republicans win any house, they could impede bills making it difficult for Democrats to achieve their targets.
All seats of lower house go to polls
All 435 seats of the US House of Representatives (lower house) and 35 of 100 seats of the Senate (upper house) will go to polls on Tuesday (local time) after millions of US citizens cast early ballots. Both houses collectively form the US Congress. Along with several other government posts, including mayors, the citizens will elect governors in 36 states and three territories.
Tug of war in both houses
Currently, the House of Representatives has 220 Democrats and 212 Republicans, while three seats are vacant. Apart from two independents, the Senate has 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats. Vice President Kamala Harris, who is a Democrat, will cast the tie-breaking vote. The election results are set to forebode the outcome of the 2024 US presidential election.
Precedent favors the Republicans
In modern times, in the US, the party holding the White House has lost Congress seats in every midterm election if it is the current president's first term, which is similar to the present situation.
Democrats for abortion rights, gun control
In June 2022, the US Supreme Court overturned abortion rights for women, following which both parties proposed new laws. The Democrats promised to uphold abortion rights, but the Republicans proposed banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The Democrats are more concerned about the cost of living, climate change, gun control, and abortion rights; the talking points for Republicans are immigration, crime, and inflation.