The 2022 Midterm Elections Stand as a Defining Moment for Biden

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A voter arrives to drop off their ballot on the eve of the US midterm election, at the Allegheny County Office building in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on November 7, 2022. [ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images]

The midterm landscape

If Republicans assume control on Jan. 1, they have threatened to start a spate of probes, targeting Biden’s son alongside members of his Cabinet & re-litigating his administration’s most challenging moments. Some have sought to impeach the president or his top aides. And they have already begun scheming to exploit must-pass bills as leverage, such as funding the government or expanding its debt ceiling, heightening the prospect of political brinkmanship and financial upheaval.

Republicans have threatened to impeach Biden ahead of the midterm elections. Republican lawmakers have stated over the past two years that a GOP-controlled Congress would seek to impeach President Biden.

Some Democrats are already whispering whether Biden has the zeal to oppose Trump a second time, and those whispers will become louder if Democrats suffer a midterm defeat. Trump and President Barack Obama had a spirited following to help them overcome failures in their first midterm elections, but Biden did not.

Biden could veto GOP legislation. Still, he will have a more difficult time stopping Republican efforts to investigate his son, which some GOP leaders believe will be a key priority if Republicans gain control of Congress.

Republicans have publicly accused Hunter Biden of being a national security threat because of his international financial connections and admitted history of substance problems. Hunter Biden has maintained his innocence while noting that he is under investigation by the Justice Department and has not been charged with any crimes.

Trump has increasingly suggested that he start a reelection campaign within days, immediately positioning him as the most prominent challenge to Biden’s administration and compelling the president to respond while putting the two men on track for a rematch.

“I’ll probably have to do it again,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Florida on Sunday, teasing another appearance in Ohio on Monday. “We have a big rally. Stay tuned for tomorrow night.”

Trump, 76, might try to capitalize on the enthusiasm of a triumphant Republican election victory by immediately beginning to campaign for himself after Tuesday.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks during a news conference on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021 in Washington, DC. [Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times/Getty Images]

Midterms a fresh test for US democracy

Biden pulled through numerous key measures in his first two years, from prescription medications to climate change to computer chips. Still, additional victories will be difficult if the GOP gains the House. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who is running for Speaker, has stated his colleagues will use a House majority to investigate Biden’s messy pullout from Afghanistan, his handling of immigration at the southern border, and Justice Department investigations.

Some Democrats privately believe that losing the House may have a political advantage, as awful as it may be. For example, both Obama and previous President Bill Clinton had poor showings in their first midterm elections but won reelection by using the unpopular House GOP as a foil. The current House Republican conference includes a faction of election skeptics, misinformation believers, and many who want to criminalize abortion, potentially making them an even easier political target.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Republican candidate for U.S. Senate JD Vance greet supporters during the rally at the Dayton International Airport on November 7, 2022 in Vandalia, Ohio. Trump campaigned at the rally for Ohio Republican candidates including Republican candidate for U.S. Senate JD Vance, who is running in a tight race against Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH). [Drew Angerer/Getty Images]

Is Trump GOP’s Supremo, or has the party moved on?

Is former President Donald Trump still the undisputed leader of the Republican Party, or is the party evolving? Biden has stated that he is the only politician who has defeated Trump. His supporters argue that a third run by the former president would benefit Biden by diverting focus away from unfavorable midterm results and reminding voters of the enormous differences between the two men and their respective parties.

Many of Biden’s initiatives, from a major infrastructure plan to lower prescription drug costs to offering student loan relief, are generally popular, according to his aides. However, they privately concede that historical headwinds — most incumbent presidents struggle during their first midterm elections — and the twin difficulties of global inflation and a European conflict make the current political landscape difficult.

They further claim that neither the midterm results nor any declaration by Trump will influence Biden’s decision. Instead, an adviser feels he will run because there is a more important job.

Still, according to Brinkley, a midterm defeat might be brutal for Biden’s political chances, given the president’s age and the severity of the partisan and personal attacks he would suffer from a Republican Congress.

“If he were a younger and more vibrant figure, he might be able to weather that,” Brinkley added. “But he’s not.”

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