President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump headline rallies in New York and Florida, respectively, on Sunday to fire up voters two days before a tight midterm election in which Republicans are pushing to flip both chambers of Congress.
Nonpartisan forecasts and polls show Republicans are heavy favorites to win control of the House of Representatives, with the Senate a toss-up. Control of even one chamber would allow Republicans to stymie Democrat Biden’s legislative agenda and launch potentially damaging investigations.
In recent weeks momentum has shifted toward the Republicans, Democratic strategists acknowledge, as voters’ concerns about inflation and crime have outweighed those about abortion after the Supreme Court ended the nationwide right to abortion in June. Democrats’ early lead in several Senate races, including in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Nevada, have shrunk or evaporated.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel voiced confidence on Sunday that her party will win both houses of Congress as she hammered home the inflation message.
“It’s rent. It’s groceries. It’s can I buy a new car because interest rates are so high? People are really, really struggling right now,” she told CNN’s “State of the Union” program.
Top Democrats have stressed their work to lower prescription drug prices and portrayed Republicans as a threat to Social Security and to democracy itself. Republicans have questioned their opponents’ support for law enforcement and criticized their handling of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, head of the Democrats’ fundraising arm for the House who faces his own tight race, described the election as “razor close” and implicitly questioned the Republicans’ commitment to democracy.
“We’ve got all kinds of things we can do better, but we are responsible adults who believe in this democracy,” Maloney told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
For Democrats, Sunday’s rallies in areas traditionally friendly to the party are a last-minute chance to minimize losses on Tuesday.
Biden will appear in Westchester County, normally safe Democratic territory where Republicans are threatening to make gains thanks in part to relentless messaging painting their opponents as soft on crime and inflation.
Also playing against Democrats is Biden’s unpopularity, which had led him to hold back from campaigning in some swing states. Only 40% of Americans approve of his job performance, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll completed on Tuesday.
New York’s Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul is facing an unexpectedly stiff challenge from Republican Lee Zeldin, while Democratic incumbents in the U.S. House of Representatives are locked in tight battles around the state.
Trump will appear in Miami alongside the state’s two U.S. senators and several U.S. representatives. Florida for years swung from party to party, but has recently trended Republican and is not considered a major battleground this election.
Trump’s frequent rallies maintain his profile as he weighs launching a third run for the White House after the midterms, according to advisers. Florida could be a battleground in any nominating contest because its Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, is viewed by strategists as a formidable contender for the Republican nomination, should he throw his hat in the ring.
That has made DeSantis a target for Trump, who called the governor “Ron DeSanctimonious” on Saturday evening.
First lady Jill Biden will attend get-out-the-vote events for Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo in Texas on Sunday, while Vice President Kamala Harris will be in Chicago, whose suburbs host a pair of competitive House races.