Five major questions voters will answer on Election Day

Election 2018 Florida
A worker loads a ballot into a machine at the Broward County Supervisor of Elections office during a recount on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018, in Lauderhill, Fla. (Brynn Anderson/AP)

Five major questions voters will answer on Election Day

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Election Day is here, and the stakes are high: Voters will decide Tuesday which party controls Congress next year, an outcome that will affect the trajectory of the remainder of President Joe Biden’s first term.

As voters cast their ballots, here are five major questions that will be answered as the results are finalized.

Will a ‘red wave’ materialize?

After the Dobbs decision came down in late June, returning the issue of abortion to the states, many believed Democrats could blunt or even overcome the historical losses that are typical for the president’s party in the first midterm election.

But in the cycle’s final weeks, the momentum has been with Republicans. Recent polling indicates concerns over inflation and the economy appear to be motivating voters more than abortion.

In the battle for the House, where Democrats currently hold 220 seats, Republicans need just five to take back the majority. There are about 35 districts that are extremely competitive — 25 of them in Democrats’ hands.

One Democratic strategist said the party will consider it a good night if it is able to hold on to 200 to 205 seats. “If the party loses 30 seats or more, that would reflect a major red wave,” said the operative, who did not want to be identified in order to speak candidly about the races.

President Barack Obama lost 63 seats in 2010, and President Donald Trump lost 40 in 2018.

The battle for control of the Senate is far more uncertain, with a handful of races considered a dead heat. Republicans need a net gain of one seat to flip the majority in the upper chamber.

Will Republicans make inroads with minority voters?

For years, the GOP has been looking to appeal to Latino and black voters, launching dedicated field programs to attract this key voting bloc. It’s unclear if their efforts will pay off this cycle. According to the latest Wall Street Journal poll, more black and Latino voters are supporting the Republican Party than ever before, although black voters still overwhelmingly support Democrats. Recent polls also have shown Democratic support among Latinos shrinking. If Democrats are unable to win by the same margins they did with these voters in the past, it could spell trouble for the midterm elections and beyond.

NEVADA GROUND ZERO FOR GOP EFFORTS TO COURT LATINO VOTERS AND WIN SENATE MAJORITY

Will Democrats’ gamble on abortion pay off?

After the Supreme Court decision reversing Roe v. Wade came out, many Democrats saw an opportunity to dampen a red wave by running on protecting abortion access. A number of vulnerable Democrats in competitive races made preserving abortion rights a centerpiece of their campaigns, hoping it would energize independent voters and conservative-learning women.

As of late September, Democrats spent more than $124 million on abortion-related TV ads. But their majority is at risk amid rising inflation, Biden’s low approval ratings, and concerns about crime. Responding to late momentum for Republicans, who overwhelmingly campaigned on economic issues, many Democrats have shifted their messaging away from abortion.

Will ‘election meddling’ work out for Democrats?

During the primary season, the Democratic Party waded into Republican primary elections by spending money to boost weaker GOP candidates in an effort to improve Democrats’ chances in the general election.

Democratic-aligned groups spent money in more than a dozen Republican primaries and were successful in boosting at least six hard-right candidates to the GOP nomination.

In New Hampshire’s Senate race, Democrats spent more than $3 million to elevate Don Bolduc, a Trump-endorsed former Army brigadier general who defeated a centrist Republican. Many polls are now suggesting the race between Bolduc and incumbent Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan is a toss-up.

In Illinois, Democrats spent millions to boost state Sen. Darren Bailey in his gubernatorial race against a more centrist Republican mayor. Many critics, including some within the Democratic Party, oppose the strategy and worry it could lead to more extremists in office should their efforts backfire.

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Will Trump cement his hold over the GOP?

Former President Donald Trump isn’t on the ballot, but these midterm elections will stand as a major test of his influence over the Republican Party. Control of the Senate could come down to how several Trump-endorsed candidates do in the general election.

Television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz (R-PA), former NFL running back Herschel Walker (R-GA), former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R-NV), venture capitalist Blake Masters (R-AZ), author J.D. Vance (R-OH), and Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) were endorsed by the former president and are in some of the closest Senate races this cycle.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has voiced concerns about “candidate quality” in Republicans’ pursuit to gain control of the Senate, a veiled reference to the GOP nominees endorsed by Trump.

The Senate Leadership Fund, McConnell’s super PAC, pulled out of races in Arizona and New Hampshire after it lost confidence in GOP nominees there. The former president’s influence will be tested outside Senate races as well. Kari Lake, endorsed by Trump, is leading in the Arizona governor’s race and has become a major face of the “MAGA” movement.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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