Record early voting in US midterms; 41mn exercise franchise before polling date

Washington, Nov 8 (IANS) The United States witnessed an unprecedented early voting for the midterms on Tuesday as 41 million voters turned up to cast their vote, a million more than the 2018 midterms, as both President Joe Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump fired up the enthusiasm of the electorate to exercise their franchise in one of the most crucial ballots that has on the agenda gun control, crime, violence, abortion rights, inflation and high prices and threats to democracy.
More Americans have gone to the polling stations during the early voting period than in the last midterm elections, media reports said.
The United States Election Project said 40,114,753 early votes have been cast across the country as of Tuesday afternoon including 18,325,512 in-person votes and 21,789,241 that had been sent in. In 2018, about 39.1 million people voted early, media reports said.
Washington Post quoted Election Project founder Michael McDonald from the University of Florida saying that this is an ongoing trend due to the greater availability of early voting.
“We have been on an upward trajectory of early voting from election to election, and that’s because states are offering early voting more frequently or more expansively. Besides, there is a very high voter enthusiasm considering the issues at stake this time for the midterms,” McDonald said.
Early voting in the Democrat ruled states suggest that there is a tide against the MAGA Republicans though pollsters have predicted that the Trump-led red party could capture either of the Congress chambers the Senate or the House, more likely the former.
New York, a blue state, has offered early voting this time as Democrat supporters have shown a tendency to vote early as compared to Republican supporters who favour going in person on Election Day. But this trend has been bucked this time as Florida, according to the Election Project, has reported that Republicans at 43.4 per cent have cast their ballots, compared to 36.7 per cent Democrats. The other 19.9 per cent were unaffiliated voters or those registered with minor parties.
In the battleground state of Pennsylvania, where Trump has accused the Democrats of rigging the polls, has outpaced the national average, even though the state is generally considered to be a battleground featuring a tight Senate race between John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz.
Though Fox News Power Rankings considers this pivotal race as a toss-up, Democrats have made up 69.7 per cent of the early voters, with Republicans accounting for just 21.1 per cent. National percentages have Republicans as 34 per cent of early voters nationwide and Democrats as 43 per cent. Only 23 states have reported party information and a good number of 27 are yet to go among 50 states that are voting.
Biden faught with his back to the wall in the last days of campaigning against the intensive campaign of Trump on inflation which is swaying the unemployed uneducated Latino voters, a trusted vote bank of the democrats.
Of very crucial significance are the closing remarks on pre-election day by Biden on what the country could expect in the next two years and thereafter when 2024 Presidential elections get underway, rather than focusing on his achievements on job creation, student loan forgiveness and restoration of abortion rights.
One or two billionaire funders of Trump have declared publicly that they will not support Trump or pay for his campaigns preferring Florida Governor Ron DeSantis; the Republican National Party has also refused to pay the legal fees for all the cases that Trump is fighting in courts. They are yet to decide on Trump and his funding for the 2024 Presidential run though Trump has said he will announce his run by November 15.
Biden is fighting voters’ angst motivated by Trump and some Republicans on how inflation and high prices of groceries and gas have disrupted their lives.
Media reports say that Biden, in one of his last appearances, has focused more on the threats the country will face if the Republicans come to power and capture the Senate and the House, both or either of them.
One of the most telling was the scene at the Florida Memorial University where he paced nervously across the podium with a mike in hand and a long pause to say: “Democracy is on the ballot this year. Along with your right to choose and the right to privacy. This is really deadly earnest, man.”
He has characterised the modern-day Republicans as ‘dangerous’ who are ‘willing to seize power by destroying democracy’.
Some Democrat Senators wonder if Biden’s predictions of a dangerous MAGA Republicans will cut through the Republican campaign on high inflation that weighs more on the voters’ minds. Some others say Democrats should have concentrated more on economic concerns and less about restoration of abortion rights.
“That was a mistake,” said Ro Khanna, Democrat representative from California, arguing Democrats should compare Biden’s efforts to bring manufacturing jobs home versus Republicans who want tax cuts for corporations.
“I’ve been saying for months that we need to frame this election as an economic choice,” Khanna was quoted by the media as saying.
Biden’s mid-term gravity on the MAGA Republican campaign is not holding good, say experts such as Robert Gibbs, who served as press secretary in the Obama White house. He said Biden’s warnings of a Republican takeover has been hard to stick on the voters’ minds.
Republican candidates have capitalised on voters’ apathy and undecidedness as against the Democrats on crime in cities, migrants at the southern border and, above all, inflation that’s at 8.2 per cent over last year even as corporate profits hit a 70-year high.
Gibbs said the “here and now” of inflation has made Biden’s warnings about a GOP takeover hard to stick.
“Tuesday’s election is the first national election since the Jan 6 assault on the US Capitol led by Trump supporters. It’s also the first election since the Supreme Court’s decision in June that struck down abortion rights. This election is not a referendum. It’s a choice,” Biden has said frequently in a push to make the race not about his popularity, with approval ratings in the low 40s, but instead Democrats’ vision versus Trumpism.
Fearing violence, the election authorities and the Department of Justice has deployed election monitors in 64 locations on Election Day to ensure compliance with voter access laws and to prevent intimidation and interference which includes the eight battleground states including Arizona, New Hampshire, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Nevada and others.

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