Here's why Joe Biden is smiling this morning, even after U.S. midterm setbacks

Wednesday - 09/11/2022 06:17
Republicans – and Trump - emerge from election with unexpected bruises in surprisingly close fight
Both Donald Trump, left, and Joe Biden, right, took some lumps Tuesday. (Marco Bello/Reuters)
Both Donald Trump, left, and Joe Biden, right, took some lumps Tuesday. (Marco Bello/Reuters)

Joe Biden might someday look back fondly on the first two years of his presidency as a carefree ride in his beloved convertible Corvette.

Because the next two could be painful.

His party's potential loss of the U.S. House of Representatives in Tuesday's midterm election would mean both personal and professional turmoil.

It likely means a hostile legislature that blocks his legislative agenda and investigates his son, his family businesses, his administration officials, the FBI, and Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Here's the most surprising part, however: Biden may be celebrating.

That's because a surprising thing happened on the way to the widely anticipated drubbing for Democrats. It didn't quite happen.

"Definitely not a Republican wave, that's for darn sure," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham lamented on NBC.

The incumbent president's party appeared to lose its razor-thin majority in the U.S. House of Representatives while remaining unexpectedly competitive.

It was not the type of midterm pounding habitually handed out to incumbent presidents from Lyndon Johnson, to Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
 

Republicans have likely won back the U.S. House of Representatives; the Senate could go the other way. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
Republicans have likely won back the U.S. House of Representatives; the Senate could go the other way. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)


Trump's troubles

The results are laden with silver linings for Biden. And they include lumps of coal for his opponents, including his chief nemesis Donald Trump.

Republicans netted far fewer seats than average for an opposition party in a midterm; they may barely win the House and may not win the Senate at all.

It was closer than the generations-long norm for midterms, where the opposition party almost always romps with an average gain of 27 House seats since the Second World War.

But Republicans actually lost previously held governorships and legislative seats. Several election-deniers lost races to control the voting process in swing states. 

The anti-abortion side lost referendums. Trump's hardest-core allies lost or under-performed, as in the Wisconsin gubernatorial race, and Georgia and New Hampshire Senate races. Mainstream Republicans did better. Case in point, Georgia: the Republican Trump backed, football star Herschel Walker, got way fewer votes in a Senate race than a Republican foe of Trump, Brian Kemp, got in the same state's gubernatorial race.

Democrats retained control in multiple swing states: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania and possibly others. 

"We are thrilled," said Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who celebrated her re-election, and a pro-choice victory in a referendum. 

Pro-Trump conspiracy theorists tried and failed to gain control over election administration in Michigan and several other states where they lost races for governor and secretary of state. 

Perhaps the most disquieting news of all for Trump: one of the night's most dominant performances was put up by Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor now emerging as his only early rival for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. 
 

Trump has been hinting he'll announce another presidential run next week. He took in the midterm results at his Florida residence, seen here. (Ricardo Arduengo/Reuters)
Trump has been hinting he'll announce another presidential run next week. He took in the midterm results at his Florida residence, seen here. (Ricardo Arduengo/Reuters)


Internal GOP rivalries could have global ripple effect

Which explains the immediate chatter among conservatives about whether DeSantis might, in fact, make a stronger presidential candidate in 2024.

Republican leaders in Congress will have to manage internal divisions. And manage an unpredictable caucus.

A number of Republican backbenchers are angling to fight their own leadership. They want to impeach Biden, despite party leaders discouraging such talk. Some, like Marjorie Taylor Greene, have already filed impeachment motions.

The internal dynamics of the GOP could have global ripple-effects.

Some backbenchers want to cut off funding for Ukraine's war. Or use the threat of a U.S. debt crisis to force policy concessions from Biden.
 

A number of election deniers looked to become the top election officials in key swing states, including Arizona Republican Mark Finchem, who was in Washington during the Jan. 6 riot. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)
A number of election deniers looked to become the top election officials in key swing states, including Arizona Republican Mark Finchem, who was in Washington during the Jan. 6 riot. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)


Where the Democrats' record stands 

This will be an unpredictable couple of years. Challenging for Republican leaders, rough for the president and his family.

Democrats will no longer pass bills they dream of. Their legislative agenda will likely stall at high noon on Jan. 3, 2023, when Republicans take over the House of Representatives.

That would leave Biden's legislative scorecard as follows: A massive pandemic-relief bill, a jobs recovery, historic climate spending, some drug-price control, a wave of funding for infrastructure, some gun control, and new tech research.

That agenda also brought historic spending, record debt, and high inflation. Which undermined Democrats' efforts to hold Congress. 

American voters have now likely frozen his party's ability to do much more. The list of unfinished business for Democrats? Immigration reform, election reform, paid parental leave, expanded public health care and statehood for Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
 

Red alert: the likely Republican House intends to hammer Biden officials with investigations including into the president's family. (Leah Millis/Reuters)
Red alert: the likely Republican House intends to hammer Biden officials with investigations including into the president's family. (Leah Millis/Reuters)


Eyes now turn to Senate results

Democrats have a solid chance of holding it, although the results might remain unclear for days or even weeks, depending on recounts, with the potential for déja vu from 2020: Georgia may, once again, have a runoff election later this year that decides the Senate.

If Democrats do hold the Senate, they can keep working on a top priority: confirming judges nominated by Biden and working to reshape the judiciary.

Which would give Biden one more reason to smile, even in defeat.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexander Panetta is a Washington-based correspondent for CBC News who has covered American politics and Canada-U.S. issues since 2013. He previously worked in Ottawa, Quebec City and internationally, reporting on politics, conflict, disaster and the Montreal Expos.

Author: Editors Desk

Source:

Total notes of this article: 0 in 0 rating

  Reader Comments

Newer articles

Older articles

You did not use the site, Click here to remain logged. Timeout: 60 second