COATESVILLE, Pa. (AP) — Big-name candidates and sponsors from coast to coast made final appeals to voters Monday in the final hours of a tense midterm election seasonwith Republicans excited about the prospect of taking back Congress even as President Joe Biden predicted his party would “take a lot of people by surprise.”
Democrats contend that Republican victories could profoundly and adversely reshape the country, eliminating abortion rights across the country and unleashing broad threats to the very future of American democracy. Republicans say the public is tired of Biden’s policies amid high inflation and concerns about crime.
“We know in our bones that our democracy is at risk,” Biden said during a late-night rally in Maryland, where Democrats have one of their best chances to win back the Republican-held governor’s seat. “I want you to know that we will meet right now.”
That event followed Biden’s late campaign strategy of sticking largely to his party’s strongholds rather than treading more competitive territory, where control of Congress may ultimately be decided. Biden won Maryland with more than 65% of the vote in 2020 and appeared with Wes Moore, the 44-year-old Rhodes Scholar who could become the state’s first black governor.
Keeping his message positive, the president said at an earlier virtual event: “Imagine what we can do in a second term if we stay in control.”
Most political forecasters don’t think Democrats will, predicting Tuesday’s results will have a huge impact on the next two years of Biden’s presidency, shaping politics on everything from government spending to military support to Ukraine.
In the first national elections since the violent January 6, 2021, Capitol uprisingDemocrats have tried to focus key races on core questions about the nation’s political values.
The man at the center of most of the debate on January 6, the former president donald trump, was in Ohio for his last rally of the 2022 campaign, and he was already thinking about his own future in 2024. Ohio holds special meaning for him as he prepares another run for the White House. was one of the first places where he was able to demonstrate his lasting power among Republican voters two years ago.
Trump’s endorsement of JD Vance in Ohio this year was crucial in helping the author and venture capitalist, and longtime Trump critic, secure the GOP nomination for a Senate seat.
While the GOP likes its chances of changing the House, control of the Senate could come down to a handful of crucial races. They include Georgia, Arizona and Pennsylvania, where Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman was embroiled in a close race against famed Republican surgeon Mehmet Oz.
“This is one of the biggest races in America,” Fetterman told a crowd of about 100 Monday outside a union hall near a steel plate factory in Coatesville, about 40 miles west of Philadelphia. “Dr. Oz has spent more than $27 million of his own money. But this seat is not for sale.
In Georgia, Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock, who was embittered with Republican Herschel Walker, tried to portray himself as a pragmatist, capable of succeeding in Washington even if the GOP has more power. Warnock vowed Monday to “do whatever it takes and work with whoever it takes to get things right.”
Arizona Democratic Senator Mark Kelly also tried to strike a moderate tone. He praised the state’s late GOP Sen. John McCain, noting that he did not ask Biden to campaign with him, but would “welcome the president to come here at any time.”
Kelly’s Republican rival, Blake Masters, called the senator “just a rubber stamp vote for Joe Biden’s failed agenda.”
“You look at what Biden and Mark Kelly are doing. It’s like, are they that incompetent or are they trying to destroy the country? Teachers said. “I think it’s both.”
Elon Musk, whose purchase of Twitter has muddied the world of social mediaHe used that platform on Monday to endorse the Republican Party, writing: “I recommend voting for a Republican Congress, given that the presidency is Democratic.”
That came too late for the more than 41 million Americans who had already voted early. Meanwhile, Biden was not exclusively positive on the final day of campaigning. He has spent weeks warning about extremism and also said on Monday: “We are up against some of the darkest forces we have ever seen in our history.”
“These MAGA Republicans are a different breed of cat,” he said, referring to Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.” Biden also raised concerns about voter intimidation during the midterms, even suggesting that some people were outside polling stations with automatic rifles.
The president was expected to view the results Tuesday night from the White House.
trump has a lot of time falsely claimed he lost the 2020 election only because Democrats cheated and has started raising the possibility of voter fraud this year. Many Republican candidates across the country continue to stick to their electoral denial, even as federal intelligence agencies warn of the possibility of political violence by far-right extremists.
Threats could also come from outside, as has happened in past races. Russian businessman connected to the Kremlin Yevgeny Prigozhin admitted on Monday that he had interfered in the US election and would continue to do so.
None of that has deterred Trump from considering announcing a third presidential bid pretty much anytime, maybe even Monday night. But she had not made a final decision, according to people familiar with his thinking. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly by name.
Many others noted that Trump often focuses on gaining media attention and saw that the latest taunt was aimed at building hype for his latest rally. He won Ohio by 8 points in both 2016 and 2020.
Trump has been eager to announce his intentions for a long time and is becoming more explicit as he teases his plans. “I’ll probably have to do it again, but stay tuned,” he said Sunday night.
Republican officials and some in Trump’s orbit have urged him to wait until after the midterms to avoid turning the election into a referendum on him and protect him from blame should Republicans, especially candidates he endorsed, do not do as well as expected. But even the people who pushed to wait now say those concerns are moot given that Election Day is here.
The GOP said voters would rebuke Democrats amid a surge inflation Y pessimism about the direction of the country. History suggests any party in power will suffer significant losses in the midterm elections.
First lady Jill Biden appeared with her husband in Maryland but also campaigned for Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton in northern Virginia on Monday. It could be an early indicator of the GOP’s midterm strength if Wexton’s seat changes to that of her Republican challenger, Hung Cao.
The first lady told about 100 people outside a home in Ashburn, about 30 miles from Washington, that the race could come down to a narrow margin of votes. And she warned that, in Congress, a “Republican majority will attack women’s rights and health care.”
Weissert reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Bill Barrow in Macon, Georgia, Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix, Josh Boak in Bowie, Maryland, and Jill Colvin, Colleen Long and Chris Megerian in Washington contributed to this report.
Follow AP’s coverage of the 2022 midterm elections at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections. And learn more about the issues and factors at play in midterms at https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections.