By Jack Phillips
Tens of millions of Americans are heading to the polls on Tuesday, to cast ballots that will determine whether Republicans or Democrats control either the House or Senate, or both.
Tuesday’s outcome will have a powerful impact on the final two years of Joe Biden’s presidency, shaping policy on everything from government spending to military funds being sent to Ukraine.
With polls opening at 6 a.m. ET in some locations, people were seen lining up in the morning to vote, according to local media reports.
While a number of analysts say that the House will most likely be controlled by the Republican Party after the 2022 contest is over, the Senate picture is murkier. The GOP is defending 21 out of 35 seats.
Control of the Senate is coming down to a handful of swing states. They include Ohio, Arizona, Nevada, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.
Elon Musk, whose purchase of Twitter has roiled the social media world, used that platform Monday to endorse the GOP, writing, “I recommend voting for a Republican Congress, given that the Presidency is Democratic.”
That came too late for some 42 million people who have voted already, according to the U.S. Election Project, which is operated by the University of Florida, and monitors election data from about 45 states.
Republican candidates and strategists predict voters will largely rebuke Democrats amid decades-high inflation, concerns about crime, and pessimism about the direction of the country. History suggests any party in power will suffer losses during the midterms.
Democrats and President Joe Biden have chosen to focus on abortion access following the Supreme Court’s historic reversal of Roe v. Wade over the summer. They’ve also opted to denigrate Republicans and former President Donald Trump as threats to U.S. institutions while proclaiming that a vote for a Democrat candidate will “save democracy” in the midst of FBI raids targeting conservatives.
“If we don’t win, they’re going to wipe out everything we’ve done,” Biden told MSNBC host Al Sharpton on Monday. “America should feel safe going to the polls,” he said, mentioning the small number of reports of people holding rifles near polling stations.
Over the past weekend, Trump asserted Democrats are pushing outright communist policies that will further damage the country. Democrats and Biden, he added, will push rules that will erode Americans’ rights and liberties.
“Every freedom-loving American needs to understand the time to stand up to this growing left-wing tyranny is right now,” the 45th president said. “If you want to save your rights and liberties, you have to start by dealing a really humiliating rebuke to the radical left in this upcoming election on Tuesday.”
And he added that “before our very eyes, Biden and his left-wing handlers are turning America into a police state like something straight out of a communist country. That’s what’s happening.”
“We skipped over socialism, that took about two weeks,” Trump, who is poised to make an announcement about running in 2024, remarked to a crowd in Pennsylvania. “We’re long gone from socialism; we are into communism.”
Although Biden and Democrats have claimed they have a chance at retaining the Senate, several election analytics websites and forecasters say otherwise. Polling analytics website FiveThirtyEight as of Monday predicted the GOP has a 55 out of 100 chance of retaking the Senate.
Another forecaster, RealClearPolitics, wrote Monday afternoon that Republicans are poised to win both the Senate and House on Tuesday.
The party is projected not to lose any of its current seats and will obtain at least three, giving the GOP a 53–47 edge to retake the majority for the next two years. Republicans, it said, will win most of contested Senate races, including Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.
The GOP was optimistic about its prospects, betting that messaging focused on the economy, gas prices, and crime will resonate with voters at a time of soaring inflation and rising violent crime rates. “It will be a referendum on the incompetence of this administration,” Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), who’s running the GOP effort to retake the House, said of the election, according to The Associated Press.
If Republicans have an especially strong election, winning Democratic congressional seats in places like New Hampshire or Washington state, pressure could build for Biden to opt against reelection in 2024. Trump, meanwhile, may try to capitalize on GOP gains by formally launching another bid for the White House during a “very big announcement” in Florida next week.
Still, Biden’s allies have expressed hope that voters will reject Republicans and claimed they’re extremists.
“I think what we’re seeing now is one party has a moral compass,” alleged Cedric Richmond, who was a senior adviser to Biden in the White House and now works at the Democratic National Committee. “And one party wants a power grab.”
Might Not Be Known for ‘Days’
But according to warnings from Democrat officials, the final result may not be known for several days. Those comments have drawn condemnation from Republican officials and conservative commentators.
“We may not know all the winners of elections for a few days. It takes time to count all legitimate ballots in a legal and orderly manner. That’s how this is supposed to work,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters at the White House on Monday. “You heard the president say this last night,” she said.
Authorities in Philadelphia, a largely Democrat area, said that counting Philadelphia’s votes will take longer than expected during the midterms, while Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman, a Democrat, told reporters that the process could also take days to complete.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.