Election 2022: The turbulent campaign season is drawing to a close
WASHINGTON (AP) – Stormy election season that has reignited America’s simmering political divisions and raised questions about its commitment to a democratic future ends Tuesday as voters cast their ballots in the first national election Joe Biden’s the presidency.
Democrats were bracing for disappointing results, worried that their hold on the US House of Representatives might be waning and that their grip on the US Senate — once considered more secure — was slipping. The party’s incumbent governors in places like Wisconsin, Michigan and Nevada are also eyeing serious Republican challengers.
Returning to the White House on Monday night after his latest campaign, Biden said he thought Democrats would hold the Senate, but acknowledged that “the House is tougher.”
The GOP was optimistic about its prospects, betting that messages focused on the economy, gas prices and crime would resonate with voters in rising inflation and growing violence. After all, they are convinced that the furor stemmed from the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a woman’s constitutional right to abortion has faded and that midterms have become a more traditional measure of a president’s performance.
“It will be a referendum on the ineptitude of this administration,” Minnesota Republican Rep. Tom Emmer, who is leading the GOP’s effort to retake the House, said of the election.
Given that polling stations are open in most parts of the country, no major problems with early voting have been reported. although there were the hiccups typical of most election days. The tabulators were not working in a New Jersey county — which would have required manual counting instead — and some polling places in Pennsylvania were delayed in opening because workers showed up late.
In Philadelphia, where Democrats are counting on big turnout in key races, people complained they were turned away as they showed up in person to try to resolve problems with their previously mailed ballots. But officials said Tuesday there was still time to reconcile those issues.
Some Arizona voters became angry and suspicious in the Phoenix suburb of Anthem when they were told that one of two tabulators at a polling place was down and they would have to wait up to 30 minutes if they wanted to vote directly into the one working machine.
The election results could have a profound impact on the final two years of Biden’s presidency. Republican control of even one house Congress it would leave Biden vulnerable to a series of investigations into his family and administration, while defending his policy accomplishments, including a sweeping infrastructure measure along with a large package of health care and social spending. An emboldened GOP could also make it harder to raise the debt ceiling and add restrictions on additional support for Ukraine in the war with Russia.
If the Republicans have a particularly strong election, they beat the Democrats congress places in places like New Hampshire or Washington state, pressure could mount on Biden to decide against re-election in 2024. Former President Donald Trumpmeanwhile, he may try to capitalize on GOP gains by formally launching another bid for the White House during a “very big announcement” in Florida next week.
The midterms come at a volatile time for the US, which emerged from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic this year only to face sharp economic challenges. The Supreme Court stripped the constitutional right to abortion, eliminating protections that had existed for five decades.
And in the first national elections since then rebellion on January 6, the nation’s democratic future is in question. Some who took part in or were close to the deadly attack are poised to win elective office on Tuesday, including seats in the House of Representatives. A number of GOP candidates for secretary of state, including 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 control future elections in states that are often key in presidential contests.
Democrats acknowledge obstacles. With only rare exceptions, the president’s party loses seats in his first midterm. And Biden’s approval lag has left many Democrats in competitive races reluctant to run with him.
Only 43 percent of American adults said they approve of the way Biden is handling his job as president October survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. In the same poll, only 25% said the country was heading in the right direction.
Still, Biden’s allies have expressed hope that voters will reject Republicans who have contributed to the extreme political environment.
“I think what we’re seeing now is one party has a moral compass,” said Cedric Richmond, who was a senior adviser to Biden in the White House and now works at the Democratic National Committee. “And one party wants to seize power.”
That’s a message that appeals to Kevin Tolbert, a 49-year-old labor law attorney who lives in Southfield, Michigan. He plans to support Democratic candidates amid concerns about the future of democracy.
“It’s something that has to be protected and we’re protecting it by voting and getting out and supporting our country,” Tolbert said. “It is a fragile space in which we find ourselves. I think it’s really 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 their best chances to unseat a Republican-held governorship, Shawn Poulson said there are “too many questions, too little investigation” about the 2020 election results.
“It shouldn’t be a negative thing or in any way illegal to talk about what you’re going to do to improve safety,” said Poulson, 45, who chairs the Kent County Republican Central Committee.
Federal and state election officials and Trump’s attorney general have said there is no credible evidence that the 2020 election was rigged. His fraud allegations have also been outright dismissed by courts, including Trump-appointed judges.
Thirty-four Senate seats are up for grabs, and people in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin and Arizona may decide which party controls the chamber, which is currently split 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris the deciding vote. Democrats are hoping for Senate upsets in Ohio and North Carolina, while the GOP believes it can unseat a Democratic incumbent in Nevada and possibly New Hampshire.
Thirty-six states are electing governors, with Democrats particularly focused on control of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. All three critical presidential battlegrounds have Republican-controlled legislatures and GOP gubernatorial candidates who have pushed for Trump in 2020. election lies.
Republican victories in governor’s races could lead states to pass stricter voting laws and ultimately refuse to block efforts to delegitimize the 2024 presidential election if Trump or any other Republican candidate loses.
Amid predictions of a Republican surge, Democrats are hoping abortion can galvanize their base while wooing independents and swinging voters angry about overturning Roe v. Wade.
“People recognize that this fundamental freedom has been taken away,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood, which has joined with other Democratic advocacy groups to spend $150 million to mobilize “rare” voters in the presidential election.
“They see this as an economic issue, a health care issue, a freedom issue,” McGill Johnson added. “And they’re furious.”
Still, on Monday, Biden faced the prospect of presiding over a divided Washington. While returning from an event with Wes Moore, the Democratic candidate for governor in Maryland, Biden was asked what his new reality would be if Congress were controlled by Republicans.
His answer: “Harder.”
Associated Press writers Corey Williams in Southfield, Michigan, Gary Fields in Chestertown, Maryland, Anita Snow in Phoenix and Claudia Lauer in Philadelphia contributed to this report.
Follow AP’s coverage of the 2022 midterm elections at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections. And learn more about the issues and factors at play in the medium term at https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections.
This story has been corrected to show that the Kent County section of the committee is called Republican, not Republicans, and the committee chairman’s last name is Poulson, not Paulson.
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