It’s Election Day!
The outcome will have enormous implications not just for the rest of the Biden presidency — the domestic agenda of which is likely to come to a halt if Republicans take over the House of Representatives as polling suggests — but for the country.
With nationwide abortion access overturned by the Supreme Court, the midterms could decide whether reproductive healthcare is restricted or secured in a handful of states.
It could also have significant ramifications for democracy and voting rights, with a majority of Republicans running for office either denying or questioning the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
Conventional political wisdom (and past precedent) tells us the incumbent party in control of the White House typically experiences voter blowback at their first midterm election. This is especially true during periods of high economic anxiety, like now, as the world confronts a possible global recession amid soaring inflation — which polls say is top of voters’ minds this year as they head to the ballot box.
In addition to the economy, Republicans have been hammering Democrats with dark messaging about dangerous crime (which experts say doesn’t match up with reality), as well as pulling possibly criminal stunts involving immigrants in order to draw attention to the US–Mexico border.
This summer’s anger in response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade appears to have dimmed slightly among some voters, but it’s still a motivating issue for many. Early voting in some states suggests turnout will be high.
All this is to say that Republicans are favored to win back control of the House of Representatives, meaning that Rep. Kevin McCarthy will probably be taking the gavel from Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But the White House has also worried in recent weeks whether they will lose control of the Senate, too.
This means it’s likely that, in addition to blocking Biden’s legislative priorities, Republicans will have the power to entangle his administration in a series of investigations on everything from his immigration policies to his son Hunter Biden. It could even mean they try to impeach him and other top Democrats.
According to pollster John Zogby, the hyperpolarization we’ve seen in previous elections is only getting worse as the two major parties drift further apart on things once considered settled (like democracy itself) and as political rhetoric becomes more extreme.
“This is another armageddon election, but it’s armageddon-plus,” Zogby told reporters last month. “Because in every election in the past, there is a common set of issues that everybody agrees on, and one party says, ‘This is how we will attack these issues,’ and the other party says, ‘No, this is how we will attack these issues.’
“The difference today: two different parties, two different sets of issues, two different realities, two different sets of facts to support those realities,” Zogby said. “It is like two planets revolving around the sun and on separate orbits.”
As results come in on Tuesday night, here are some key races to keep an eye on. (But before we start, here’s what to know if you’re reading this while stuck in a long line on Election Day!)