Midterm elections may offset Democratic domination in Congress, spur 2024 Presidential race

Jenae McInnes, News Editor

Two years into the Biden administration, this round of midterm elections may alter the power dynamic in Congress, shift the government’s attention to new issues, and determine the stakes of the 2024 presidential election. For each midterm election, all 435 House of Representative seats are up for grabs, as well as one-third of the senatorial seats. The elections also determine many governor offices and other local positions. In California, there are pivotal propositions regarding abortion and climate change on the ballot this year. 

For the past two years the Democratic Party has held the majority in both the Senate and the House, but this domination is likely to be upset by the midterms. Fourth-year political science major Maggie Holleran commented, “The 2022 midterm elections offer up an opportunity for the Republican party to gain back a majority in the House, and potentially gain a majority in the Senate. High inflation and crime rates, and a correspondingly low approval rating for Biden, suggest that this round of midterms could hurt the Democrats.” She added, “the midterms haven’t favored the incumbent party for 20 of the last 22 election cycles, so a shift in power for the GOP would not be out of the ordinary.” 

California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, has recently expressed frustration with his party who he says is getting nationally “crushed on narrative,” leading to the high possibility of loss of power. Newsom and pundits have cited the Democrats’ large-scale campaigning on the contentious issue of abortion after the overturn of Roe V. Wade and failure to address other key issues such as inflation as issues that have put the Democratic party in a perilous position. “The fall of Roe v. Wade offered Democrats a way of holding ground, however, it’s unlikely that focusing on abortion will carry them to victory at this point,” said Holleran. 

A poll released on Nov. 2 by CNN revealed that 51% of respondents said the economy and inflation were the most important voting issues, compared to just 15% who said it was abortion. Fourth-year political science major Sarah Yamaichi said of the issue, “I think abortion will definitely be a hot topic as well as inflation. I think the Democrats were banking on using the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to bolster their campaign platform, but the IRA is unlikely to have immediate effects on inflation.” The IRA was a victory for President Biden and congressional Democrats this summer aimed at reducing inflation and further mitigating climate change but, as Yamaichi suggests, may not have a direct impact on votes this midterms. 

This midterm election will also spur the race for the White House in 2024. Historically, Midterms have served as a rough consensus of the nation on how the incumbent administration is doing. If Democrats suffer major losses this election, it is expected by many that former president Donald Trump will announce a third run for president. “If the GOP can secure victories in key states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Iowa, then a Trump 2024 presidential campaign will almost certainly follow,” said Holleran. 

In California, many key issues are being brought to a head this election. California is one of six states to have a proposition related to abortion rights on the ballot. Proposition 1, if passed, will prohibit the state from denying access to abortion. Proposition 30 will also be on the ballot this year, proposing an increase on tax to those with an yearly salary of two million dollars or more to fund zero-emission car subsidies and wildfire prevention. Governor Newsom’s seat is also up for grabs this year, but he is favored to win re-election against Republican Brian Dahle after he survived a recall attempt in 2021

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