Will Biden’s gambit work in the mid-term polls? | By Dr Imran Khalid


Will Biden’s gambit work in the mid-term polls?

This time President Biden has adopted a different kind of election campaign to keep Republicans from regaining control of the Congress in the forthcoming mid-term polls on 8 November.

The game plan is two-pronged; hot and cold. The ‘cold’ part is being played by President Biden who is conspicuously keeping a low-key campaign, abstaining from big rallies – a staple feature of America’s Congressional election campaigns patronized by both sides quite religiously – and attending only fundraising events to highlight his party’s accomplishments.

While the ‘hotter” part of the game plan is being spearheaded by former President Barack Obama who is crisscrossing various states to promote the Democratic candidates and attending campaign rallies.

Unlike the traditional model of American election campaigns, which revolves around high-octane rallies and fanfare of large political gatherings, President Biden has adopted an atypical model to attract the voters; he is focusing on grabbing media headlines to promote his tangible accomplishments of the last two years.

He wants to project himself as a national politician who is above the existing political divide and fray.

Biden’s strategy is to use the fundraising as well as official event, where he lavishly talks about all the major accomplishments of his two-year stint, to be in the headlines of the media on a daily basis and keep reaching out to a wider base of voters and convince them by showing his past performance rather than routine exaggerated political oratory.

President Biden’s plans for the last leg of the election season are in stark contrast with those of his immediate predecessors on both sides of the divide.

Former President Donald Trump participated in 26 rallies in October 2018, including nine in the final four days of the midterm elections that year.

While Mr.Obama held 16 campaign rallies in October 2010, even though at that time his approval rating was about the same as that of Biden at 44 per cent.

There is no denying that a large number of Democrats are unhappy with Biden’s go-low approach in this crucial campaign that, if failed to win Democratic majority in the Congress, has all the potential to bring back populist Donald Trump to the Oval Office in 2024.

That is why, there is big disagreement among Democrats over this years’ campaign strategy.

The most recent polls show that Republicans have a definite edge going into the final stretch of the campaign, with growing concern about inflation and the economy.

Another unique feature of the current confrontation between Biden and Trump is that none of them is debating about the regular victories and losses typical of any political race in the US.

Instead, they are projecting each other as if calamities will befall them if the other’s candidates are elected.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, is busy in an unending series of mega rallies that are routinely adorned by his signature rhetoric against Biden and Republicans.

Big boisterous campaign of Donald Trump, who is putting all his heart into this campaign with an intention to use Republican’s victory in the midterms as the basis to stage his own comeback, has pushed panic button among the middle and lower cadres of Democrats.

But President Biden, being an average political orator when it comes to rebutting an insolent and rude opponent like Trump, does not want to indulge into the repetition of the ferocity of 2018 presidential campaign and he has shoved Barak Obama to take the lead in political rallies in some targeted states.

President Biden has made many gaffes during the current campaign, and he is rightly avoiding more exposure to larger public rallies.

With his witty and calm demeanor, Barack Obama has all the ingredients to neutralize more glamorous and piquant gimmicks of Donald Trump.

As per the sources of Democrats, Barak Obama will be engaged in some selective ‘grey and battleground’ states where the outcomes may have direct implications on the outcome of 2024 elections.

Obama has focused on Atlanta, Detroit and Milwaukee as special project to campaign for Democratic candidates.

There is no doubt that Barack Obama, considered to be one of the most persuasive and influential Democratic leaders who possess special aura to enhance the voters base of political left in America, is the right choice to counter the growing nuisance of Donald Trump.

Obama has been at loggerheads with Trump when he withdrew from the Paris Agreement and Iran nuclear deal.

Similarly, in May 2020, both were again engaged in a short-live personal skirmish when Obama criticized Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis.

Trump is desperate to reclaim his political mandate in this contest for the Congress. He considers himself the bigger crowd-puller and is quite justified in bragging about the large crowds attending his rallies, even overshadowing the candidates he is soliciting votes for.

His narrative is quite catchy and is built on the concept that Biden and Democrats have caused serious damages to the economy and both should be punished through votes in the forthcoming elections.

So, a very interesting duel between two former Presidents is being witnessed in the midterm polls.

This is also a fact that Trump is much more enthusiastic in this midterm campaign – perhaps he is vying for the 2024 presidential contest.

—The writer is political analyst, based in Karachi.


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