Inflation Will Be Key to the Midterms

The war over election law is at its height in America. Its two major parties have been fiercely debating the issue of mail-in voting. Democrats are pushing for new legislation to increase access to mail-in voting. Republicans, meanwhile, are taking the lead in making mail-in voting more difficult.

Both parties believe that mail-in voting is the biggest factor that determined the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. At the time, many states made it easier to vote by mail than in previous elections. States took this step to accommodate voters who were unable to come to the polling stations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It turned out that the mail-in ballots worked in favor of the Democrats. Republicans were certain that they would have won the election were it not for voting by mail.

Changing Election Law in Favor of Republicans

The Democratic Party is trying to eliminate the controversy altogether. In March 2021, Democrats passed a bill (H.R. 1) in the House of Representatives to make voting by mail mandatory. The House also passed a bill (H.R. 4) that would require the general to approve any change in election laws in certain states, a move clearly targeting the pro-Republican South.

Things did not go as well for Democrats in the Senate. With Democrats and Republicans equally divided there, both bills failed to garner enough votes for approval. At least 60 votes are needed to put an end to filibusters. Democrats attempted to pass legislation to get rid of filibusters, but were unsuccessful due to opposition from centrist Democrats such as Sen. Joe Manchin.

Republicans are utilizing a “divide-and-conquer” approach. Their strategy is to make mail-in voting less accessible in states where they control both governor’s office and the state legislature. So far, they have been able to change election law in 19 states.

Democrats have not given in easily either. They expanded opportunities to vote by mail in Democrat-controlled states. But the outlook seems uncertain, considering most “swing states,” whose votes determine the outcome of national elections, are currently controlled by Republicans.

Other factors also favor Republicans. Historically, the governing party has suffered significant losses during midterm elections. Since World War II, the majority party has lost an average of 26 seats in the House of Representatives in the midterms. In 2010, under President Barack Obama, Democrats lost 63 seats in the House. The record for the majority party is better in the Senate, but it still does not bode well. Democrats lost six seats and nine seats in the Senate in the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections respectively.

Halting Inflation Will Work in the Democrats’ Favor

When more people prefer the minority party in opinion polls conducted before an election, the minority party has always prevailed. There have been no exceptions to this pattern since 1938. Currently, the Republican Party has a higher approval rating than the Democratic Party.

Redistricting has also worked to the detriment of the Democrats. Each state holds two Senate seats. In contrast, House seats reflect demographic changes in each region. At the moment, the number of electoral districts in Republican strongholds has increased and those in Democratic strongholds have decreased. Texas, a Republican state, will be gaining two House seats beginning in the upcoming midterm election. Florida, Colorado and North Carolina will also each be gaining one more seat.

Meanwhile, the Democratic states of California, New York and Pennsylvania will each lose a seat. To make matters worse, President Joe Biden’s job approval rating has been steadily declining, which is sure to impact his leadership in November.

Nonetheless, Biden is hoping for a dramatic turnaround. The White House believes that things will improve once the spread of COVID-19 subsides and the government manages to halt inflation, which is at its highest in 40 years. Biden expects the Democratic Party to maintain its majority in Congress, or at least in the Senate. Whether Biden and the Democratic Party’s hopes come true will likely be the focus of the 2022 midterm elections. Many people predict that inflation will be key to the outcome.

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