US votes with Biden agenda at stake — and Trump in the wings

Share

Polls opened Tuesday in crucial US midterm elections that could decide the political future of both President Joe Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump — who has all but announced he will seek the White House again in 2024.

Biden’s Democrats are facing a gargantuan struggle to hang on to Congress, after a race the president has cast as a “defining” moment for US democracy — while Trump’s Republicans campaigned hard on kitchen-table issues like inflation and crime.

“The power’s in your hands,” Biden told a rally near the capital. “We know in our bones that our democracy is at risk and we know that this is your moment to defend it.”

Returning to the White House Monday night, Biden told reporters he believed Democrats would win the Senate — though conceding “it’s going to be tough” to retain the House and that his life in Washington may become “more difficult.”

With Congress out of Democrats’ hands, he would see his legislative agenda collapse. 

An influx of far-right Trump backers in Congress would also accelerate the shift that has been taking place inside the Republican Party since the former real-estate tycoon stunned the world by defeating Hillary Clinton for the presidency in 2016.

In a typically dark, rambling speech to fans in Dayton, Ohio, Trump said, “if you support the decline and fall of America, then you must, you absolutely must vote for the radical left, crazy people.”

– Second Biden run? –

“I would emphasize vote, vote, vote,” 24-year-old student Luke Osuagwu told AFP in Atlanta, Georgia.

More than 40 million ballots were cast through early voting options, meaning the outcome had already begun to take shape before election day.

Up for grabs are all 435 House seats, a third of the 100 Senate seats, and a slew of state-level posts. Four states are also holding referendums on abortion — California, Vermont, Kentucky and Michigan.

But final results may not be known until days — or in some cases even weeks — after election day, setting the stage for what promise to be acrimonious challenges.

Citing growing support for voter conspiracy theories among Trump and his Republicans, as well as their push to curb abortion access, Biden has warned that democracy and basic rights are at stake on Tuesday.

The outcome will likely determine whether Biden, who turns 80 this month and is the oldest president ever, will seek a second term in 2024 — or step aside.