Off-Year Elections: Illusory or Genuine Signs of Hope for Joe Biden?

The Democrats managed to notch up surprising election wins on Tuesday, largely owing to the issue of abortion bans. It’s high time we stopped trusting opinion polls.

The president looked old and doddery. The mood was miserable, and the polls alarming. It is just two days since mild panic broke out in Washington. According to a New York Times opinion survey, Joe Biden was polling significantly behind his presumed challenger, Donald Trump, in nearly all key states.

U.S. voters once again delivered a sizeable surprise — this time a favorable one. In various regional elections across the country, citizens voted in favor of enshrining the right to abortion in law, specifically in the state of Ohio, which Trump won with a clear eight-point lead in 2020. They stopped Republican governor and torchbearer Glenn Youngkin’s advance in Richmond, Virginia, where he sought to win over both state legislative chambers. And they reelected the Democratic governor in the rock-solid conservative state of Kentucky, which Trump had captured by a dizzying 62% to Biden’s 36% of the vote.

“Across the country tonight, democracy won and MAGA lost,” a jubilant Biden declared on the X platform (formerly Twitter). The 80-year-old president’s sense of relief was palpable.

According to initial analyses, the Democrats owed their success to one factor above all others — the opposition of many women and younger voters to the Republicans’ agenda to restrict abortions, and even ban them entirely in many areas. As previously seen in the 2020 midterm elections, the right’s culture war seems to have motivated liberal voters to turn out to the polls.

Not all the results are in yet. Nonetheless, two clear takeaways can already be drawn. First, the Evangelical Christian right’s fanatical campaign to overturn the Roe v. Wade abortion ruling was a colossal goal against themselves. The American public clearly takes a more liberal view of the issue than Republican hard-liners. Second, opinion polls are at best snapshots with a considerable margin of error. They ignore important factors such as voter mobilization. Accordingly, they should be viewed with a degree of caution.

That’s in no way to suggest that Biden can sit back and relax. Trump, however, has far more cause for concern right now since the nominee he vocally backed to become Kentucky governor failed miserably. In any event, the gloomy forecasts of the incumbent president’s political demise appear somewhat overstated following this election night.

About this publication

About Anna Wright 8 Articles
I am a London-based freelance translator, who caught the bug for language-learning, politics and current affairs early via a degree in German and Russian from Edinburgh University, and an MA in Politics, Security and Integration from UCL’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies. I have worked in the Language Services industry for a number of years and hold a Postgraduate Diploma in Translation from the Open University.

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