An election year weighed down by economic turmoil, the elimination of the federal abortion law and widespread concerns about the future of democracy concluded with a final full day of campaigning Monday by leaders of both parties making an urgent appeal to their supporters.
President Joe Biden was hosting an evening rally in Maryland, where Democrats have one of their best opportunities to reclaim a Republican-held gubernatorial seat. This was consistent with Biden’s late-campaign strategy of largely sticking to his party’s strongholds rather than pushing into more competitive territory, where control of Congress might ultimately be decided.
Tuesday’s results will have a powerful impact on the final two years of Biden’s presidency, shaping policy on everything from government spending to military support for Ukraine. In the first national election since the violent January 6 insurgency, the final days of campaigning focused on fundamental questions about the nation’s political values.
Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, held his final campaign rally in Ohio. This state holds special significance for the former president as he prepares for another run at the White House, as it was one of the first places he was able to prove his enduring power among Republican voters two years ago. year. Trump’s endorsement of JD Vance was crucial in helping the author and venture capitalist — and former Trump critic — secure the GOP nomination for a Senate seat.
Senate control could boil down to a handful of crucial races. Besides Ohio, these include Pennsylvania, where Democratic Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman is locked in a close race against famed Republican surgeon Mehmet Oz.
“It’s one of the most important races in America,” Fetterman told a crowd of about 100 Monday outside a union hall near a sheet steel plant in Coatesville, about 40 miles away. west of Philadelphia. “Dr. Oz has spent over $27 million of his own money. But this seat is not for sale.
Fetterman was introduced by Pennsylvania Steelworkers Union official Bernie Hall, who acknowledged that some steelworkers vote Republican. That’s despite regular union endorsements from Democrats topping the tickets.
“But they’ll come home to Fetterman because he gets along really well with blue-collar workers,” Hall said.
In Georgia, Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, who was having a tantrum with Republican Herschel Walker, tried Monday to portray himself as pragmatic and moderate — capable of succeeding in Washington even if the GOP has more power. Campaigning in Macon, Warnock vowed to “do whatever I need to do and work with who I need to work with to do good things.”
And in another hotly contested swing state, Arizona, Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly also tried to sound moderate. He praised the late Republican state senator John McCain, while noting that he did not ask Biden to campaign with him, but would “welcome the president to come here anytime he wants. moment”.
“We have a lot of issues facing Arizona and the country that we need to keep working on. The drought, the forest fires, the border. so many problems that require the greatest attention.
Meanwhile, Elon Musk, whose Twitter buy shook the social media world, took to the platform on Monday to endorse the GOP, writing, “I recommend voting for a Republican Congress, given that the presidency is a Democrat. “.
It came too late for the more than 41 million Americans who had already voted early.
Biden has spent weeks warning of the extremism he says is increasingly common among many Republicans.
“We are facing some of the darkest forces we have ever seen in our history,” Biden told Democrats at a virtual reception Monday afternoon. “These MAGA Republicans are a different breed of cat.”
This was in reference to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan. Biden has also raised concerns about midterm voter intimidation, saying in an interview with the Reverend Al Sharpton, “America should feel safe going to the polls” and even mentioning people outside polling stations with automatic rifles.
“It’s outrageous,” Biden said.
The 2014 congressional elections continue to shape the justice system in ways that impact decisions to this day.
Trump has long claimed he lost the 2020 election solely because Democrats cheated and even started raising the possibility of voter fraud this year. Many Republican candidates across the country continue to buy into his electoral denial, even as federal intelligence agencies warn of the possibility of political violence from far-right extremists.
None of that deterred Trump from considering announcing a third presidential election at virtually any time — possibly even Monday night — but didn’t make a final decision, according to people familiar. with his thought. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly by name.
Many others noted that Trump often focuses on media attention and they saw the latest match as aimed at generating excitement for his final rally. Trump won Ohio by 8 points in 2016 and 2020.
Trump has long been eager to announce his intentions and increasingly explicit as he teased his plans. “I’ll probably have to do it again but stay tuned,” he said Sunday night.
Republican officials and some people in Trump’s orbit have urged him to wait until after midterms to avoid turning the election into a referendum on him while protecting him from blame if Republicans – especially candidates that he approved – didn’t do as well as expected. But even people who had pushed to wait now say those concerns are moot given that Election Day has arrived.
As the former president considered shifting the focus to the next cycle, Democrats still hoped to retain their tight control of the House and Senate — despite Republican claims their party was in for a big night.
The GOP said voters will berate Democrats amid runaway inflation, concerns about crime and pessimism about the country’s direction. History suggests that any party in power will suffer significant losses mid-term.
First lady Jill Biden campaigned Monday for Democratic Representative Jennifer Wexton in a part of northern Virginia that Joe Biden carried two years ago. That could be an early indicator of the GOP’s midterm strength if Wexton’s seat returns to his Republican challenger, Hung Cao.
The first lady told about 100 people outside a house in Ashburn, about 30 miles from Washington, that the race could come down to a tiny margin of votes, while in Congress a “Republican majority will attack the rights of women and health care”.
Weissert reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Bill Barrow in Macon, Georgia, Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix and Jill Colvin, Coleen Long and Chris Megerian in Washington contributed to this report.
Follow AP coverage of the 2022 midterm elections at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections. And learn more about the midterm issues and factors at play at https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections.