U.S. Midterm Elections Enter Final Straight

U.S. Midterm Elections Enter Final Straight

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Elections to the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate are entering the home stretch. On November 8, the United States will elect a new House of Representatives (435 congressmen) and Senate (100 senators). Can the Republicans take over the majority from the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives, the lower house of Congress?

Not by Biden Alone

Due to the fact they are called midterm elections, they are often confused in other countries with early or special voting. Actually, a midterm election is so called because it is held in the middle of the incumbent's term. In our case, it is two years after Joe Biden of the Democratic Party was elected president of the United States.

Will the ruling Democratic Party be able to hold on to its majority in the House of Representatives? Or at least not lose by a landslide? Right now, the Democrats are leading in the lower house of Congress, albeit by a slim margin. According to the official website www.house.gov, there are 220 Democrats and 212 Republicans in the House of Representatives at the moment, 3 seats are vacant (one congressman has passed away, two have resigned), and not a single independent deputy. As for the Senate, the balance of power in the upper house is also in favor of the Democrats. Technically, the Republicans have an advantage in the form of 50 senators, while the Democrats have only 48 seats. At the same time, two independent senators are more drawn to the Democratic Party. That said, the Democrats are still in the lead thanks to the deciding vote of Vice President Kamala Harris.

The last meeting of the 117th U.S. House of Representatives before the election will be held on Monday, November 7, at 11:30 a.m. Washington time.

The U.S. political system is different, so we cannot say that the ratings of the Democratic Party are directly related to the level of support for Joe Biden and his administration. After all, both members of the House of Representatives and senators are elected by districts. Therefore, the victory of a particular representative of the Democratic or Republican Party depends largely on his personal popularity, his support for his home party and his relationship with the governor of a particular state of Oklahoma, North Carolina or Michigan. The Democratic or Republican parties provide support for the ‘party machine’ and add their party supporters to the candidate's rating. But Biden's popularity also impacts on the support of the Democrats, even if it does not play a decisive role in all the states.

If we talk about the popularity of Joe Biden, the average of all polls www.fivethirtyeight.com on November 3 looks the following way: 53.2% of respondents do not approve of the U.S. president, while 42.3% approve.

If we talk about the ratings of the Democratic and Republican parties, www.realclearpolitics.com gives the following average of all polls across the U.S.: 48.0% for Republicans, and 45.0% for Democrats. Clearly, the situation can vary greatly from state to state.

On the eve of an election, there are several polls every day to suit any taste – among adults, among voters who plan to go to the polls, among registered voters, etc.

Say, a YouGov poll of registered voters commissioned by The Economist for Oct. 29-Nov. 1 says Republicans and Democrats are tied at 48.0%/48.0%.

A fresh Oct. 30-Nov. 3 Rasmussen Reports poll of planned voters gives the edge to Republicans at 48.0% vs. 43.0% for Democrats.

What US Voter is Living on

In fact, the centerpiece of the U.S. political agenda today is gasoline prices. So much so that The Washington Post reports how everyone on Biden's team is downright fixated on gasoline prices. “Many of Biden's aides argue that the president's popularity is closely tied to one economic indicator, and they may be right,” the influential American media outlet reports.

The fact is that the White House staff recorded a pattern where Biden's rating fluctuates almost exactly with the fluctuations in the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States. Gasoline prices have fluctuated very seriously over the past 2 years.

By comparison, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, a gallon of unleaded Ai-92 gasoline cost only $1.84 at the beginning of President Joe Biden's term, in January 2020. Today, it's $3.8. The example of June, when the price per gallon "jumped" to $5.016, shows that's not the limit.

In order to get the price of gasoline down, Biden made an unsuccessful visit to Saudi Arabia in July of this year and also ordered a total of 165 million barrels of oil (1 barrel is 158.988 liters) from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to be brought on the market. Still, the fight against rising gasoline prices is going on with varying success.

Biden's staff tracks gasoline prices on the tracker www.gasprices.aaa.com. As of early November, gasoline prices averaged $3.8/gallon (3.785 liters) across the United States. The highest was June 14, when gasoline cost $5.016/gallon.

Unwanted Fruit of Migration

The Mexican border migration crisis, which erupted in the late summer and early fall of 2021 and continues to this day, is another high-profile issue. Even during the campaign, Biden promised to liberalize migration requirements. Former U.S. President Donald Trump, as we recall, took the opposite and intransigent position on migration, promising to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

In general, even the Democrats did not expect liberalization to just overwhelm the U.S. because of a shaft of migrants. And the situation is really complicated. So complicated, in fact, that in early October, New York City Mayor Eric Adams declared a state of emergency because of the migration crisis, because thousands of migrants came to the city from the south of the United States. According to Adams, New York authorities plan to spend $1 billion to overcome the migration crisis.

He added that an average of five to six buses with migrants a day have recently arrived in New York City.

“The city expects to spend $1 billion to manage the influx of asylum seekers, Adams said in a speech at City Hall. More than 17,000 have come to New York since April; an average of five or six buses have arrived each day since early September, with nine buses pulling into the city on Thursday, said Adams.

Nationwide, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officially reported that 1.9 million illegal immigrants crossed the U.S. border illegally from the Southwest alone between October 2021 and July 2022. That is about 200,000 illegal immigrants, mostly Hispanic, for every month of Joe Biden's administration.

No Need for Unreasonable Expectations

Of course, the assessment of Biden's performance and the White House as a whole is influenced by the state of the U.S. economy. CBS bluntly writes that “the country is a step away from recession” and “inflation remains at its highest level in 40 years, poisoning the spirits of many voters.”

Indeed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Consumer Price Index (one of the methods of estimating inflation) from September 2021 to September 2022 was the following: 11.2% for food; 19.8% for energy; 6.6% for other items (without food and energy); and 8.2% for all key items, including food and energy.

Many Americans, as reported by CBS, complain that they have had to cut key expenses to pay their electric and heating bills.

In particular, CBS cites an 80-year-old Kentucky retiree who complains that her heating bills have risen from $120 to $175 in a matter of days, so she now turns off the heaters at night.

Economists asked by CBS Money Watch to characterize the U.S. economy with a single word chose characteristics such as “fragile” and “retarded,” but there was also an assessment such as “adapting.”

Russia has unreasonably high expectations for the U.S. midterm elections. As if “Trump will suddenly arrive in a blue helicopter” and relations between the United States and Russia will immediately improve. In fact, this is not the case.

Realistically speaking, even if the Republican Party wins the congressional elections by a landslide, the most that will change is the domestic political balance of power. The U.S. is a presidential republic in which the president is both head of state and chairman of the government. Therefore, after the election it will be Joe Biden and his administration who will determine both its domestic policy and foreign policy, including relations with Moscow. As for the talks with Biden, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a press conference in Astana in October that “there is no platform for them yet.”

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