Biden calls midterms ‘defining moment’ but avoids swing states in last days before election – live | US midterm elections 2022


Last night, Joe Biden gave an address warning of dire consequences if voters elect Republican extremists to office next Tuesday. Today, he’s heading west to campaign not in the tightest contests or those considered the best chances to oust sitting Republicans, but rather for incumbent Democrats trying to hang on to their seats.

It’s the perfect illustration of the dynamic for Biden, more than a year after his approval ratings tanked and stayed there. His presidential bully pulpit allowed him to make a speech where he warned, “Make no mistake, democracy is on the ballot for all of us.” But his unpopularity had forced him into a cautious approach to campaigning – almost a tacit admission that when it comes to the races that could define the next two years of his presidency, his ability to help is limited.

The Associated Press today published a piece looking at what today’s travel itinerary says about the dynamic. Here’s how they put it:

His itinerary illustrates the limited political clout of a president who has been held at arm’s length by most Democrats in tough races this cycle. It also suggests that the president, whose approval rating remains underwater, has concluded that he can be most effective using the waning days before polls close to shore up support for Democratic candidates in areas that he easily won in 2020.

Key events

Georgia is home of one of the country’s tightest Senate races, and yesterday, Republican candidate and former NFL star Herschel Walker attempted to contrast himself with Barack Obama, Martin Pengelly reports:

Hitting back after Barack Obama questioned his fitness for a US Senate seat, Herschel Walker said: “Put my résumé against his résumé.”

Obama, 61, was a civil rights attorney and community organizer in Chicago, an Illinois state politician, a US senator from 2005 to 2008, then 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017.

Walker, 60, won the Heisman Trophy, the top honor in college football. He had a stellar NFL career, mostly with the Dallas Cowboys, then went into business.

His entry into politics, endorsed by Donald Trump and seeking to unseat the Democrat Raphael Warnock in Georgia, has been anything but smooth. Less than a week from election day, however, the two men are locked in a close race,

How big of a deal are Tuesday’s midterms? So big that spending on advertisements has exceeded the 2020 presidential elections. Adam Gabbatt takes a look at the messages Americans are seeing on TV, the web and elsewhere:

As the US midterm elections loom, Republicans and Democrats have spent almost $10bn (£8.6bn) so far on ads. It’s a staggering figure, one that exceeds even the spending on the 2020 presidential election, and is almost triple the amount spent during the last midterms.

Both parties – and their dark money backers – have splashed exorbitant amounts on TV, digital and print advertising, but their focus has been very different.

For Democrats, abortion has been a key issue. The party has spent almost 20 times more than it did on abortion-related ads in the 2018 midterms, NPR reported, For Republicans, there have been different messages: that inflation, crime and taxes are out of control.

The result has been a whirling atmosphere for the average American, where to turn on the TV is frequently to see the two parties, and their candidates, talking straight past one another about different things.

In Arizona, Kari Lake is running for governor on a platform of refusing to accept Joe Biden’s election, or even his own potential defeat. The Guardian’s Maanvi Singh reports on how Lake has embraced Donald Trump’s Maga ideology in her quest for the state’s top office:

Local news anchor Kari Lake refused to announce that Joe Biden had won Arizona on election night two years ago. Now, she’s the telegenic new face of Maga Republicanism, poised to possibly become the state’s next governor.

With early voting underway, polls show Lake in a dead heat with her opponent Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s Democratic secretary of state. The contest will test the strength of Donald Trump’s enduring influence on the Republican party and its supporters. And the entire enterprise of free elections in Arizona hangs in the balance.

If Lake wins, her administration will oversee the 2024 elections in a key state that could help determine who wins the presidency. She could work with the likes of Mark Finchem, the far-right Oath Keeper who is running to become the state’s top election official. Already, she has said she’ll only accept the 2022 election results if “fair, honest and transparent” by her standards, declining to say whether she’d accept defeat.

When Biden warned about Republican extremists last night, just who did he mean? The Guardian’s Sam Levine and Rachel Leingang report on the candidates who present a direct threat to democracy and are on the ballot in Tuesday’s vote:

There are several races on the ballot this fall that will have profound consequences for American democracy. In several states, Republican candidates who doubt the 2020 election results, or in some cases actively worked to overturn them, are running for positions in which they would have tremendous influence over how votes are cast and counted. If these candidates win, there is deep concern they could use their offices to spread baseless information about election fraud and try to prevent the rightful winners of elections from being seated.

In total, 291 – A majority of the party’s nominees for this cycle, have questioned the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, according to a Washington Post tally.

Election deniers are running for offices up and down the ballot that could play a critical role in future elections.

They’re running to be governors, who play a role in enacting election rules. They’re running to be secretaries of state, who oversee voting and ballot counting. They’re running attorneys general, who are responsible for investigating the investigation of fraud handling litigation in high-stakes election suits. They’re running to be members of Congress, who vote to certify the presidential vote every four years. They’re running to be state lawmakers, who can pass voting laws, launch investigations, and, according to some fringe legal theories, try and block the certification of presidential electors.

In Michigan, the state’s Republican candidate for governor Tudor Dixon brought up Biden’s speech as she campaigned today:

Dixon says Democrats are trying to “control people with fear.”

“Look at Joe Biden’s speech yesterday! ‘Do not vote for Republicans because they have better plans.’ That’s what I heard.”

— David Weigel (@daveweigel) November 3, 2022

Polls indicate Dixon is trailing incumbent Democrat Gretchen Whitmer in the state.

In his response to Biden’s speech last night, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell sought to refocus the attention to crime, the economy and immigration, issues the GOP has campaigned on nationwide:

President Biden is desperate to change the subject from inflation, crime, and open borders. Now he’s claiming that democracy only works if his party wins.

What nonsense. Americans aren’t buying it.

Ask how the last two years have affected your family, and then get out and vote!

— Leader McConnell (@LeaderMcConnell) November 3, 2022

Stepping away for a minute from its context in relation to the midterms, here’s what University of Chicago political violence expert Robert A. Pape had to say about the substance of Biden’s speech last night:

The data shows that President Biden is right: The violent threat to our democracy comes from an extreme minority— not just a minority of all Americans but a minority of even pro-Trump Republicans. Our national survey from September shows that an estimated 13 million adults support the use of force for Trump. That means well over 80% of Americans, both Democrats and most Republicans, reject violence for political reasons. Bipartisan majority opposes political violence. Now it is crucial to turn that democratic majority into a bipartisan coalition against political violence.

Here’s the University of Chicago Project on Security and Threats’s latest study on political violence, which indicates only a small minority would support restoring donald trump to office through violent means. But as the data makes clear, that group may be five percent of those surveyed, but it’s still representative of about 13 mn people.

Last night, Joe Biden gave an address warning of dire consequences if voters elect Republican extremists to office next Tuesday. Today, he’s heading west to campaign not in the tightest contests or those considered the best chances to oust sitting Republicans, but rather for incumbent Democrats trying to hang on to their seats.

It’s the perfect illustration of the dynamic for Biden, more than a year after his approval ratings tanked and stayed there. His presidential bully pulpit allowed him to make a speech where he warned, “Make no mistake, democracy is on the ballot for all of us.” But his unpopularity had forced him into a cautious approach to campaigning – almost a tacit admission that when it comes to the races that could define the next two years of his presidency, his ability to help is limited.

The Associated Press today published a piece looking at what today’s travel itinerary says about the dynamic. Here’s how they put it:

His itinerary illustrates the limited political clout of a president who has been held at arm’s length by most Democrats in tough races this cycle. It also suggests that the president, whose approval rating remains underwater, has concluded that he can be most effective using the waning days before polls close to shore up support for Democratic candidates in areas that he easily won in 2020.

‘We’re facing a defining moment’, Biden argued. Will voters agree?

Good morning, US politics blog readers. Last night, Joe Biden made a primetime address to warn Americans about the threats to democracy posed by political violence and Republicans who deny the outcome of the 2020 election. It’s a salient message, given that many GOP candidates nationwide have embraced baseless conspiracy theories about the election that brought Biden to power, but there’s a problem: poll after poll has shown most Americans have a sour view of Biden’s time in office, to the point that the president is avoiding many swing states in the final days before the 8 November midterms. Last night’s speech was meant as a reminder to voters of what the stakes are in next week’s elections. We’ll see if they care.

Here’s what else is happening today:

  • Biden heads out west, first to deliver remarks on student debt relief at a community college in Albuquerque, New Mexico, then to rally with democratic candidates. After that, he’s in San Diego, California, where he will appear at an event for democratic congressman Mike Levin,

  • Vice-President Kamala Harris will go to New York to rally Democrats.

  • Midterm countdown: we are five days away from Tuesday’s election.

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