Written By Aadit Agrahara
With the commencement of the 2022 midterms many policy makers, media members, and voters turn to the next major election: the 2024 presidential election. This midterm has given us an important indication of what is to come in 2024.
Before we look ahead we must reflect on what just occurred. Many media members, mostly on the right, predicted a “red wave” or a substantial victory of republican candidates in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. While that did not happen as Republicans have a slim majority in the House and are a runoff away from 50 seats in the Senate, the “red wave” had merit.
In the past, Midterm elections have been a report card on the sitting president and the party as a whole. Poorly performing presidents will result in the opposing party increasing their foothold in Congress and successful presidents further the majority. Biden’s presidency was riddled with flaws that Republicans could exploit from rising inflation to the failed withdrawal in Afghanistan. These talking points coincided with his approval ratings as prior to the Midterms, Biden had a record low approval rating of 37%. A culmination of these factors should have resulted in a dramatic increase of Republican representation in Congress, yet, something interesting happened.
Republicans were unable to take advantage of Biden’s low popularity and made no major gains in either chamber defying decades of empirical trends. There were many factors for this failure by the Republican party. The first was the lack of party direction. The Trumpism ideology that left the White House did not leave Capitol Hill. With some republicans denouncing and others supporting Trumpism it fractured the base. While this did not affect the House race’s because elections are confined to districts, it prevented broader state level success because “MAGA ‘’ candidates — candidates that support Trump — did not have the popularity past their own districts. Another key factor was the change in abortion protections across the country. The Dobbs decision allowed states to determine the future of Abortion, and with Republican proposals that are a variation of the Heart Beat Bill, it gave Democrats a clear message to gather millions of young voters.
But what do the results of the midterms tell us about the 2024 presidential election?
Let’s start with Republicans. First, MAGA no longer is a viable direction as Boebert and MTG — Marjorie Talyor Green — narrowly won their races despite the deep red district. The republican ticket for 2024 will bring back the return of the moderate conservative. Second, Ron DeSantis has established himself as the clear frontrunner for the Republican ticket in 2024 by not only soundly winning reelection, but also dominating in previously heavily blue areas such as Miami and West Palm Beach. Third, this midterm highlighted the flaws in the current Republican strategy. Sitting idly by while Biden’s popularity tanks may provide short term success in House races, however pushing legislation in both chambers is the only way to get moderate voters to vote against the sitting president.
While the democrats had a successful midterm there are still major issues with the party direction. Biden’s popularity continues to decline which makes running for reelection a severe risk, when moderate voters can look to fresh faces on the other side of the ticket. However, if the Democrats choose to sit Biden and run other candidates, it shows a lack of faith and creates major roadblocks for these new candidates. Candidates claim that the last 4 years were bad, and voters vote Republican for a change, but claiming that the last 4 years were good negates the purpose of choosing new faces.
Moreover, the Democrats do not have the candidates that have brand recognition and can win over moderate voters. Pette Buttieg barely survived the primary, and other names that appeal to moderates such as Gavin Newsome are tied to progressive states. The only choice is to find ways to create short term popularity boosts for Biden and create more moderate appealing candidates beyond 2024.
In short one side has clear candidate choices that are very popular across party lines in their state, but lacks the clear party direction nationally to win key states while the other party has a popularity issue but is galvanized by current social movements.
Regardless, both parties must fix these issues to have successful elections for 2024 and beyond.
Written By Aadit Agrahara an undergraduate student at Michigan State University James Madison College