The Economy is on the Menu for this Year’s Midterm Elections

GOP campaign sticker on a screen showing the rising gas prices

The U.S. midterm elections have always been pivotal to the country’s political direction, but this year, American midterm elections are being held amid especially unprecedented circumstances. Even as the spread of COVID-19 wanes, the effects of the massive economic recession that occurred due to the pandemic still persist. On top of that, gas prices are exceptionally high due to the war in Ukraine. Meanwhile, inflation rates now soar to high points that haven’t been seen since the 1980s. With all of the financial turmoil that surrounds the United States right now, it is no surprise that the economy is the foremost issue on the minds of voters this year. However, this does not bode well for the Biden administration, for the set of priorities on the minds of voters plays to the strengths of the Republican party.

A large part of the reason why the issue of the economy is such a problem for the Democrats has to do with how easily the Biden administration can be blamed for the many issues that plague the U.S. economy. Although Biden’s management has created job growth over the past year, the state of the economy has put a target on Biden’s back, providing something that Republicans can criticize him for no matter what. Texas Representative Kevin Brady, for instance, has used the talking point of the economy to criticize Biden even in the wake of reports detailing job growth, saying that due to the “Biden recession and crushing inflation, more Americans are being forced back into the workforce to survive.” Regardless of the verity of Brady’s criticisms of the current administration, they still find an audience among a disgruntled American public. When many suspect the U.S. may be in the middle of a large economic recession, voters feel the country’s economic state in their wallets, allowing Republicans’ strategy of blaming Biden to work effectively. The tendency for the House and the Senate to change party allegiances each election further amplifies the Republicans’ Biden-scapegoating tactic.

The polls reflect the uncertain nature of this year’s midterms. According to FiveThirtyEight, Democrats have roughly a 67 percent chance of hanging onto the Senate, while they only have a 30 percent chance of keeping the House under their control. In the case of the Senate, Republican hope for control lies in Georgia and Nevada, while several close races such as the Virginia 7th and Pennsylvania 3rd districts will determine the fate of the House. 

Although according to Data For Progress, the economy and inflation remain the priorities of voters by a very large margin, many other factors do also influence voters in key races, including abortion and crime The overturning of Roe v. Wade earlier this year resulted in a massive push of momentum towards the Democrats. Now, however, this momentum has somewhat died down. Democratic strategist Navin Nayak commented, “I wish the election was a month ago,” in which case, the odds of Democrats taking both the House and Senate would be far better. Although this momentum is no longer at its height, it still is present enough for Democrats to be able to use the issue to their advantage. Crime, similarly, has been heavily emphasized by Republican senate campaigns in Nevada, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. 

It is certainly a strange time for the political landscape of the United States. Not only is the country more partisan than ever before, but an onset of significant geo-political conditions has only further complicated the U.S. midterm election cycle. There is a lot at stake in this year’s election, mainly the Biden Administration’s ability to achieve any meaningful legislation between now and the 2024 election. Without control of both the House and Senate, Democrats will struggle to legislate. Furthermore, the clock is ticking on many issues that will have massive repercussions in the coming years, namely climate change and abortion. The forecast for the elections, nevertheless, is still hazy, especially considering that many things can still happen in the remaining half month between now and then. America’s future is one caught in great turbulence, and we do not yet know how it will play out when the storm subsides.

By Sebastian Lemberger

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