From coast to coast, big-name candidates and financiers made their final appeal to voters in the closing hours of the United States midterm election campaign, with Republicans excited about the prospect of winning back Congress and President Joe Biden insisted his party could spring a surprise.
Democrats argue that victories for Republicans could radically and unfavorably reshape the country, eliminating abortion rights nationwide and creating broad threats to the future of democracy in the US. Republicans say the public is fed up with Biden’s policies amid rising prices and concerns about crime.
“Today we are at a turning point. We know deep down that our democracy is in jeopardy and we know this is your time to defend it,” Biden told a cheering crowd in Maryland, where Democrats have one of their best chances of winning a Republican vote. to regain the occupied governor’s seat. “I want you to know that we are meeting right now.”
Returning to the White House a short time later, Biden was more candid, saying, “I think we will win the Senate. I think the House is tougher.” When asked what the reality of governing will look like, he replied, “More difficult.”
Unbiased election forecasters predict that Republicans will likely win about 25 seats in the 435-seat House of Representatives, more than enough to secure a majority. Analysts said the party could also get the one seat it needs to gain control of the Senate, the upper house.
Speaking from Washington, DC, Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher said such an outcome could be “catastrophic” for Democrats, and Biden in particular, during his next two years in office.
“There is very little good news for Democrats,” Fisher said.
Dozens of Republican candidates, some of whom could be elected as governors or election administrators in key states, have also echoed and reinforced Trump’s baseless claims of fraud in his 2020 election defeat.
The reality show star turned politician has repeatedly hinted that he could run for president again in 2024. At a rally for Republican candidates in Ohio, Trump said he would make an announcement at his Florida estate a week after the election.
“I’m going to make a very big announcement on Tuesday, November 15 at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida,” he told the crowd.
Tension around mood
Despite Biden delivering on his campaign promises to boost infrastructure and clean energy, many people in the US have soured his leadership. Only 39 percent approve of their job performance, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll published Monday ahead of midterm exams.
If Republicans gain control of the House or Senate, it would mean the end of Biden’s efforts to get abortion protection and other Democratic priorities through Congress. A Republican-led Senate could also block Biden’s nominations for judicial or administrative positions.
Control of Capitol Hill would also give Republicans the power to block aid to Ukraine, but they are more likely to slow or curb the flow of arms and economic aid to Kiev than to stop it.
Trump supporters, spurred on by his false election claims, have threatened and harassed election workers and voters. Last month, the Reuters news agency said it had documented multiple incidents of harassment involving a growing army of election observers, many recruited by prominent Republican Party figures.
A hammer attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband on Oct. 28, which landed him in hospital, has further heightened fears of political violence. Trump called Pelosi an “animal” when speaking at Monday’s rally in Ohio.
But the White House said on Monday that law enforcement had not reported any specific, credible election-related threats. The US Department of Justice said it would monitor voting in 64 locations across the country.
More than 43 million Americans have already cast their vote, either in person or by mail, according to the US Elections Project, which tracks early voting.
Experts say it could be days or weeks before the outcome of some tight-knit races — and Congressional scrutiny — is finally clear.