The midterm elections are said to be referendums on the current president and the success of his first two years in the White House.
President Joe Biden’s approval ratings are underwater, inflation is soaring, and he gags nearly every time he speaks, so the Democratic nominee’s success is meaningless when the normal rules are applied.
It doesn’t make sense that Democrats retain the Senate and have a (albeit slim) chance of retaining the House five days after the election.
But this is no ordinary election.
One way to interpret it is to think of it as a referendum on extreme right-wing politics for “Make America Great Again” candidates, recruited and supported in some cases by former President Donald Trump.
Take Adam Laxalter, who was defeated in a decisive race for the Nevada Senate and a fully paid member of Trump’s peddled denial of electoral lies.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he had “no math” to lose, perhaps forgetting to factor a discerning voter into his equation.
Across the country and on the ballot — with a few but not many exceptions — voters denounced Trumpism.
From celebrity TV doctor Mehmet Oz, who was beaten in Pennsylvania, to anti-abortionist Yesli Vega, who was defeated in a key race in Virginia, this wasn’t the red wave the GOP was expecting.
Maybe it’s also a referendum on abortion rights.
This spring, a decision by the conservative-majority Supreme Court to rescind the constitutional right to choose abortion changed the face of this campaign season.
With a wave of Republican lawmakers banning or severely limiting abortion, Democrats have seen their ratings rise in the polls and have taken a calculated gamble to focus their energies and advertising dollars on abortion.
We don’t yet fully understand which voters play a significant role in swinging some key races, but the research center Civic Youth estimates that 31 percent of young people vote in battleground states.
In Nevada, which eventually ceded control of the Senate to Democrats, civic youth said 64 percent of young voters backed the winner, Sen. Kathryn Cortez Masto.
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It also illustrates that voters in Pennsylvania say abortion is the most important issue when they vote, and nationally, it is the second most important issue after inflation.
Republicans seem out of touch with the people on abortion rights, with the Supreme Court ruling fueling angry political energy.
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But if President Biden is feeling euphoric tonight, there could be a reality check in the coming days, as there is still a good chance that Republicans will take the House once the final ballots are closed.
That means he may still be thwarted by political gridlock and legislative hurdles.
The House could also open an investigation into President Biden’s conduct in office and the financial dealings of his son Hunter Biden, which they may do.