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Democrats Turn To Obama For Midterm Miracle, Or At Least To Stem The Bleeding

U.S. President Joe Biden and Jill Biden host former U.S. President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama for the unveiling of their official White House portraits in the East Room of the White House, in Washington, U.S., September, 7, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/File Photo

 

With less than two weeks until the midterm elections in the United States, Democrats are pleading with former President Barack Obama to perform late-game heroics – or at the very least help limit their losses.

Obama, who left office in 2017 after two terms, travels to Georgia on Friday, then to Wisconsin, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, all of which are key battleground states in the Nov. 8 election.

All four states have competitive Senate races, with Republican candidates gaining ground. Republicans need just one more Senate seat to retake control of the chamber, and Georgia and Nevada are prime targets.

Republicans are also expected to pick up enough seats to take control of the United States House of Representatives. With control of both chambers, they will be able to stymie President Joe Biden’s agenda, block his nominees, including federal judges, and launch investigations into his administration.

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According to the most recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, Biden’s approval among voters is hovering around 39%, so the former president is assuming the role of the party’s closer in the final days. Biden was Obama’s vice president for both of his terms.

“He’s probably a better ambassador for swing-state Democrats than Biden is, since he’s more popular – especially in the competitive states – and less tied to the current issues on voters’ minds,” said Jacob Rubashkin, an election analyst with Inside Elections in Washington. “He’s also a more natural campaigner.”

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Along the way, Obama will stop in Michigan, which has a competitive governor’s race.

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Biden has been nearly invisible on the campaign trail, dogged by public concerns about inflation and the economy. His predecessors, Republicans Donald Trump and Barack Obama, had both held more than a dozen large rallies by this point in their second terms.

Regardless, those presidents suffered significant congressional losses, emphasizing the political challenges that Biden now faces. Republicans captured 63 House seats in the 2010 midterm elections, altering the course of Obama’s presidency, which he later called a “shellacking.”

Biden isn’t completely off the trail. He plans to campaign in Florida next week for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, who will face Republican governor Ron DeSantis, a potential White House candidate in 2024, and then join Obama for events in Pennsylvania on November 5.

MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER

Obama’s top priority on his swing is likely to be mobilizing the existing Democratic coalition – Black voters, college-educated suburbanites, Latinos, and young voters – to vote, which has historically been difficult in midterm elections when a presidential race is not on the ballot.

“President Obama remains able to unite base Democrats, persuadable voters, and to motivate demographics less likely to turn out in midterm elections like young people,” said Ben LaBolt, who served as spokesman for the first Black president’s successful 2012 re-election campaign.

According to the U.S. Elections Project, voter turnout has reached new highs in the last two federal elections and has remained high this year, with more than 12 million early votes cast.

Obama earlier this week used social media to promote voting among young Americans, highlighting issues such as abortion rights and gun control.

In Georgia, a strong African-American vote helped Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock win an upset victory two years ago, and it will be needed again if Warnock is to defeat Republican challenger Herschel Walker, according to Andra Gillespie, an Emory University political science professor in Atlanta.

“African-American voters are going to be crucial to Democrats’ chances,” Gillespie said. “Bringing in President Obama helps to underscore the importance of African-American vote, while also exciting other voters.”

However, Democrats must wonder if that is enough, as recent polling shows Republican candidates gaining strength across the board.

Even though Walker has been hampered by a series of controversies, the Georgia Senate race is essentially tied. In Nevada, the race between Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and challenger Adam Laxalt appears to be deadlocked as well.

In Pennsylvania, Democrat John Fetterman’s lead over challenger Mehmet Oz has slowly dwindled. In Wisconsin, Republican Senator Ron Johnson appears to be ahead of Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes.

Still, there remains time for Obama to make an impact, Rubashkin said. “The cake,” he said, “is never completely baked.”

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Written by How Africa News

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