The final weekend before an election means that both parties aim to make their final cases before many voters head to the polls. While many have already cast their ballots in early voting – a trend that accelerated during the pandemic and will likely remain a staple in every election afterward – plenty of races remain up in the air.
In the final stretch of the campaign, former presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump traversed the state of Pennsylvania, as did sitting president Joe Biden, for their preferred candidates for governor and the closely watched Senate race.
Democrats are hoping that outrage about the Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade in its Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision will galvanise voters, while Republicans hope voters continue to blame the party that controls the White House, the House and the Senate for rising prices at the grocery store and crime.
Here are the five takeaways from the last weekend of the midterm campaigns.
The race for the House could go either way – but Republicans hold the advantage
NBC News released its final national poll on Sunday, which said that 48 per cent of voters prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress while 47 per cent preferred GOP control, a reveral from last month when those numbers were flipped. In addition, Democrats have now closed the gap in voter enthusiasm, as 73 per cent of voters in each party expressed high interest.
At the same time, 53 percent of voters disapprove of the job Mr Biden is doing, which could give Republicans the advantage, and 47 percent of voters say they want a “great deal of change.” That number is higher than it was at the same time in the first midterms for Mr Trump, Mr Obama and Bill Clinton, all of whom lost their House majorities in the midterm.
Trump draws blood … against DeSantis
The former president has made no secret of the fact he might run for another term in 2024. But Republicans have hoped that he would stave off doing so until the last votes are tallied for 2022. At the same time, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is barreling an overwhelming victory in his home state after Republicans have touted him for rapidly reopening the state amid the Covid-19 pandemic and his focus on opposing LGBT+ rights, restricting access to abortion and how racism is discussed in classrooms.
All of that has led to elite Republican donors and pundits eyeing him as a potential 2024 candidate for the Republican nomination, which likely has angered Mr Trump. On Saturday night, while speaking in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, he cited a poll showing his lead him among Republican voters and called the Florida governor “Ron DeSanctimonious.”
Another example of the impending feud between two forces: On Sunday, the former president held a rally in Miami with Senator Marco Rubio, the man he once dubbed “Liddle Marco” in the bitter 2016 Republican presidential primary. But Mr DeSantis chose to hold a rally in Hillsborough instead.
Republicans make their case for Latino voters
Republicans shocked many political pundits in 2020 when, five years after he had called Mexicans drug dealers and rapists, he improved his margins with Latino voters, particularly in Miami-Dade County in Florida and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. Republicans are running multiple Latino candidates for Congress.
At his rally in Miami, Mr Trump was quick to point out his support for Hispanic voters. In addition, the former president was flanked by Cuban-American and Venezuelan-American rallygoers and frequently appealed to their staunch opposition to communism by accusing Democrats of adopting the Marxist ideology.
“Many Hispanic Americans have roots in nations that have been destroyed by these vile ideologies,” he said. Similarly, he also noted that despite many thinking that his rhetoric about building a wall on the US-Mexico border would repel Hispanics, many in the Texas area approved of it.
“You know when I talked about the border and you know the biggest fans of that was the Hispanic Latinos,” he said.
Obama and Biden Prioritize Pennsylvania
Mr Obama has spent the last few weeks traversing the country for Democrats – a change from when many Democrats gripped that he did not do enough for Democrats lower on the ballot and Republicans decimated tones of promising young candidates. But Democrats are zeroing in especially on Pennsylvania’s Senate race, their best opportunity to flip a Senate seat.
On Saturday afternoon, Mr Obama held a rally across the street from the University of Pittsburgh with Senate nominee John Fetterman, as well as congressional candidates Summer Lee and Chris DeLuzio, who are running for open seats. Democrats have fretted about Mr Fetterman ever since he suffered a stroke in May and he at times struggled to answer questions during his debate with Republican Senate nominee and television physician Dr Oz.
But Mr Obama came to Mr Fetterman’s defense during his Pittsburgh rally.
“John’s stroke did not change who he is, it did not change what he cares about, it did’t change his values, his heart, his fight,” he said. “It didn’t change who he will represent when he gets to the United States Senate. He’ll represent you, and that’s what you deserve.”
Later in the day, Mr Obama and Mr Fetterman headed east to Philadelphia where they were joined by Mr Biden and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Josh Shapiro, who delivered himself a speech that went viral reframing discussions about freedom. Mr Biden, a native of Scranton, also mocked Dr Oz for not being from the state.
“I lived in Pennsylvania longer than Oz has lived in Pennsylvania,” he said. “And I moved away when I was 10 years old.”
Democrats push back on crime
Throughout much the election, Republicans have sought to appeal to suburban voters by pointing out rising crime in cities led by Democratic mayors and states led by Democratic governors. Mr Trump repeated his frequent calls to impose the death penalty for any convicted drug dealers. Meanwhile, in the past, he’s accused Mr Fetterman of wanting to legalize all drugs and baselessly said that Mr Fetterman took them himself.
However, Mr Obama pointed out in Pittsburgh that crime increased not just in blue areas but also in rural and Republican areas. Similarly, Summer Lee, the Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania’s 12th District, criticized Republicans for not focusing on gun violence or funding social services, infrastructure public education.
“I think it’s I think it’s so important that we don’t yield the narrative,” Ms Lee told The Independent on Sunday before a door-knocking event with Senator Bernie Sanders on Sunday. “And if we’re going to be serious about keeping our community safe and serious about eradicating racism within our criminal justice system, then we can’t we can’t lose sight of that when the when the going gets tough.”