Americans will go to the polls Nov. 8 to determine which party will command the majority in Congress, and this will determine whether President Joe Biden’s agenda will advance or stall. Despite the president’s success in passing relevant legislation, recent events foreshadow problems for the majority Democratic party and, in turn, the future of his presidency.
First, the performance of the country’s economy is always a vital voting issue because what Americans understand best is how much money is in their pockets. Therefore, it is troubling that, despite serious intervention by the Federal Reserve, inflation is still very high at 8.2%, according to a September report.
The need to halt inflation means there will be even harsher measures to slow the economy, which could possibly lead to a recession. Just last Thursday, analysts at the Bank of America said the U.S. could lose 175,000 jobs a month by early 2023. So, we can reasonably expect more uncertainty than confidence among consumers.
On the other hand, energy prices — gasoline in particular — are lowering the president’s approval ratings in contrast to prices, which are rising. In this context, the news that a coalition of countries led by Russia and Saudi Arabia will cut oil production by 2 million barrels could be the prelude to more expensive gasoline, as well as higher natural gas bills as we approach the cold of winter.
For the most part, these economic trends are Biden’s responsibility or that of his team. But people are resentful when the economy hits them in their wallets and take out their disgust by by punishing the leaders in office, whether or not they are to blame.
Irrefutable proof of how nervous people are about the economy is reflected by polls that show Latinos, a group traditionally loyal to Democrats, in fact prefer the majority party but by a lower margin than they did in 2018, according to The Washington Post. And why is that? A study by the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economics Polling Initiative reports that Latino consumer confidence has plummeted from 92% earlier this year to 74% today.
In keeping with the visceral reactions of the voters, the Democrats are spending a lot of time and millions of dollars to persuade Democrats to support the party in view of Supreme Court decision to overturn abortion rights.* This is undoubtedly relevant for political purposes as it portrays the decision as a loss of fundamental women’s rights. The strategy is to get people to turn out in anger, not reflexively, to reject the conservatives and strengthen the Democrats’ chance of maintaining political control.
Overall, the current situation does not favor the Democratic Party retaining a majority in Congress and portends a lean time for the nation financially. But this is equally true for the global economy and, in particular, for trade-integrated partners such as Mexico, which should prepare for less economic vitality and political turbulence here in a first-world power.
*Editor’s Note: In June, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ending the federal, constitutional right to abortion and returning jurisdiction to individual states to determine their own abortion laws.
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