Will the situation in Afghanistan and Biden’s lack of legislative accomplishments will have an effect on the 2022 midterms? The truth is that it’s too early to say. It’s no doubt that, at least in the short term, the Taliban takeover is bad for Joe Biden’s optics. Republicans will argue that if Trump were still president this never would have happened (even though Trump planned to get out of Afghanistan months earlier than Biden). Some will blame the Biden administration for “wasting” the twenty-year effort at nationbuilding it Afghanistan. It can also be argued that Joe Biden will need more legislative victories over the next year if he is going to be able to convince voters to elect Democrats in the House and Senate. The infrastructure deal is expected to be his next accomplishment, followed up perhaps by a significant expansion of the social safety net in the next budget reconciliation bill. Biden’s job approval has fallen below 50% for the first time in his presidency, coming in at 49% this week according to trackers from FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics.
There are some other harsh realities that are working against Democrats in 2022. In nearly all instances in modern American history, the incumbent president’s party has lost seats during their first midterm election. Recent examples include the Tea Party takeover when Obama was president in 2010 and the blue wave for Democrats in 2018. The left has tight margins to work with in Congress, as Democrats have only a slim majority in the House of Representatives at under ten seats. Making matters worse, state legislatures around the country are going to be redrawing congressional districts, and more Republicans are going to have control over this process than Democrats. The Senate right now is a 50/50 split, but given there are more Republicans senators up for reelection in 2022, Democrats could still maintain control in the upper chamber. It’s certainly possible that Democrats maintain the energy for 2022 that they had in 2020. But with Trump no longer on the ballot and the right wing arguably more fired up, Democrats may be in for a long night on November 8, 2022.
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