Facing a tough election, Biden to hold final rally on friendly terrain

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One day before midterm elections that could sharply curtail his power in Washington, President Joe Biden will hold a rally on friendly terrain in an event that underlines the difficult prospects for his Democratic Party.

Rather than making a final pitch to voters in a hotly contested swing state, Biden will hold a rally in reliably Democratic Maryland on Monday, as his sagging popularity has made him unpopular in much of the country.

Weighed down by voter frustrations over rising prices, Biden’s Democrats fear the elections on Tuesday could see them lose control of one or both chambers of Congress.

Analysts expect Republicans to win control of the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate as well.

That would spell the end of Biden’s legislative agenda – including Democratic priorities such as abortion rights, family leave and climate change – and open the door for two years of potentially damaging Republican-led investigations. A Republican-led Senate could also block his nominations for judicial or administrative posts.

Billionaire Elon Musk, whose purchase of Twitter has Democrats worried that it could unleash a wave of disinformation, tweeted on Monday that “independent-minded voters” should vote for a Republican Congress “because shared power curbs the worst excesses of both parties.

If Republicans secure a House majority, they plan to use the federal debt ceiling as leverage to demand that Biden accept deep spending cuts. The US Treasury is expected to hit its $31.4 trillion borrowing limit in 2023, and any protracted stalemate that risks a default on the US government’s debt could roil financial markets.

A Republican Congress would also seek to make the 2017 individual tax cuts passed under former President Donald Trump permanent. That law slashed top-line tax rates on corporations, a permanent feature that Democrats failed to reverse with control of Congress over the last two years.

Control of Capitol Hill would give Republicans the power to block aid to Ukraine, but they are more likely to slow or pare back the flow of weapons and economic assistance to Kyiv than stop it.

Biden has warned that a Republican victory could weaken the foundations of US democracy itself. “Democracy is literally on the ballot,” he said at a rally in Yonkers, New York, on Sunday.

Many Republican candidates have echoed Trump’s baseless claims of fraud in his 2020 election defeat.

Some of them could end up as governors or election administrators in battleground states and play a central role in the 2024 presidential race.

Trump has had a significant role in the midterms, shaping the Republican field through endorsements and hinting at another presidential run at campaign rallies. He is due to speak in Ohio on Monday.

With narrow control of the House and the Senate, Biden’s Democrats helped him to fulfill campaign promises to boost clean energy, fight the COVID-19 pandemic and finance the rebuilding of some crumbling roads and bridges.

But surging inflation and high crime have led many voters to sour on his leadership. Only 40% of Americans approve of his job performance, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll completed on Tuesday.

Despite Biden’s warnings about democracy, many of his fellow Democrats have emphasized more practical matters, such as their work to lower prescription drug prices and defend the Social Security safety-net program.

While Democrats also campaigned on abortion rights, opinion polls show that has faded as a top voter concern.

Democratic candidates in many of the most competitive states have sought to distance themselves from the unpopular Biden, with some declining to campaign with him or say whether they would back him for re-election.

Biden will rally on Monday with Wes Moore, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Maryland who is expected to easily win his race. If elected, Moore would be only the third Black governor in US history.

More than 40 million Americans have already cast their ballots, either in person or through the mail, according to the US Elections Project, which tracks early voting.

Because some states allow ballots to be mailed on election day, experts say it might be days or weeks before the outcome of some close races – and control of Congress – is clear.