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The polls are open in America | TICKER VIEWS

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The polls are open in America and in six Tuesdays from today, America will vote.  In several states across the country, early voting has begun in the most consequential midterm elections for Congress in 12 years.  

Midterm elections are a referendum on the president, and this year is no different.  Biden’s future is on the line no less than the control of Congress.

However, the current President is painting an optimistic future.

In 2010, President Barack Obama lost 63 Democrats in the House, giving Republicans control in that chamber, and six Senate seats but keeping Democratic control over the Senate.  

It was a big setback. That result meant that Obama’s ability to pass his legislative agenda came to a halt for the balance of his presidency.

President Obama, 2010 midterms.

For the next six years, there were no significant new legislative initiatives in health care and the environment or any other major domestic policy issues.

As of today, the outlook for the November 8 midterm elections for Congress looks like a replay for President Joe Biden.

Republican gains that will give them control of the House, and continued, but very narrow, Democratic control over the Senate. 

This would be a better-than-expected outcome for Biden and the Democrats than many thought just three months ago. 

At the end of June, Biden’s popularity was plummeting.

Petrol prices reached record highs; inflation had erupted and there was sticker shock on groceries; supply chains were a mess; there were no legislative victories.

U.S. gas prices reach an all time high.

Now to mention the nightmare of women losing their constitutional rights becoming all too real with the decision by the Trump Supreme Court to repeal the landmark Roe decision. 

Biden had slumped to the mid-30s in approval.  Republicans seemed in easy reach of matching the average historical benchmark of gaining 26 seats from the president’s party in these midterms – and taking the Senate too. 

But momentum shifted in August to the Democrats.  Women across the country are furious about what the Supreme Court did to their reproductive health rights – with the Republican Party all-in with the Court. 

Protests following the overturning of Roe V. Wade

Biden started getting big legislation through Congress, especially on health care costs, clean energy and climate change, and high-tech manufacturing for the future.

Donald Trump’s legal challenges mounted, from FBI raids to get back the classified documents he took from the White House to state officials in Georgia and New York moving against him. 

Former U.S. President Donald Trump

Biden regained some popular approval, and the Republicans were on the defensive – especially on abortion with their candidates for the Senate on the wrong side of the anger from women voters.

In the 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton’s team kept reminding him, and the county, that “it’s the economy stupid.” Clinton won the White House in the wake of a painful recession on President George H.W. Bush’s watch. 

This economy is hurting Biden and the Democrats.  The gut punch last Friday of the Fed’s raising interest rates by 75 basis points – with mortgages now the highest in over a decade and no end in sight to further sharp interest rate rises – and the markets tanking as a result, has left the mood of many deeply anxious and uncertain about the future. 

Inflation is still too high and most Americans believe the country is already in a recession.

“People are seeing their wage increases eaten up by inflation.”

federal reserve chair jerome powell
Fed reserve chair jerome powell

This plays to the Republicans, who are already pounding the culture war buttons on high crime in the cities, “out-of-control” immigration on the southern border and putting more control from parents back into the classroom particularly on gender and racial issues.

The essence of Donald Trump as a major factor in American politics and what America’s experience with him means about the future of America’s democracy is crystallizing. 

As many as two thirds of American believe that their democracy is on the brink, and they are worried about it.  Together with an extremist Supreme Court that has repealed fundamental rights for women, this makes Trump-supported Republican candidates – especially in the Senate – vulnerable.

If the Republicans take the Senate thanks to the Trump-endorsed candidates winning in key states like Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, Nevada, and New Hampshire, that will be a big win for Trump as he moves to declare for the 2024 presidential campaign. 

The converse is also true:  If Democrats beat Trump candidates this year, then they are more likely to beat Trump and the Republicans again in 2024.

There are two possible shock outcomes:  a sweep of both chambers by either party.  A Republican Congress will move aggressively against Biden, his policies and his government.  Expect big investigations. 

Expect Biden to be impeached by the House Republicans. A Democratic Congress, especially if they gain one or two more Senators, would present a complete reversal of fortune, making it possible to enact crucial legislation on abortion rights and voting rights and cement a historical place for Joe Biden as a truly great president.

The stakes are huge.  We’ll know the final verdict in 8 weeks.

Bruce Wolpe is a Ticker News US political contributor. He’s a Senior Fellow at the US Studies Centre and has worked with Democrats in Congress during President Barack Obama's first term, and on the staff of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He has also served as the former PM's chief of staff.

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Boston Dynamics’ electric marvel or robot contortionist?

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Boston Dynamics has recently unveiled its latest creation, the electric Atlas robot, boasting enhanced agility and strength.

However, with its uncanny ability to contort and rise from the ground with an almost eerie grace, one might wonder if we’re witnessing the birth of the world’s first robot contortionist.

As this technological marvel flaunts its capabilities, one can’t help but ponder if we’re on the brink of a future where household chores will be effortlessly handled by robots moving like a fusion of ballet dancers and horror movie monsters.

With its cadaver-like movements and illuminated head, it’s hard not to speculate whether Atlas is destined to revolutionise robotics or simply rehearsing for a techno-horror rendition of The Nutcracker. As Boston Dynamics continues to push the boundaries of robotics, the line between science fiction and reality becomes increasingly blurred.

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The Coffee confusion causing health concerns

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As the morning sun peeks through the curtains, many reach for that familiar brew, kickstarting their day with a comforting cup of coffee.

It’s a ritual ingrained in cultures worldwide, offering a jolt of energy to combat the grogginess of dawn.

But when is the optimal time for that caffeine fix? According to registered dietitian Anthony DiMarino, RD, LD, the answer isn’t crystal clear.

Some experts suggest delaying that first sip until mid-morning or later. However, DiMarino reassures coffee lovers that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this dilemma.

Meanwhile, the science behind coffee production unveils fascinating insights into its instant variant. Whether produced through freeze-drying or spray-drying methods, instant coffee offers convenience without sacrificing flavor.

Yet, beyond convenience, recent studies delve deeper into coffee’s impact on our bodies. Research exploring the acute effects of decaffeinated versus caffeinated coffee reveals intriguing findings on reaction time, mood, and skeletal muscle strength.

Moreover, investigations into the gut microbiome shed light on coffee’s influence on liver cirrhosis patients. A study analyzing the duodenal microbiome in this population found correlations between coffee consumption and microbial richness and evenness.

So, as you sip your coffee and ponder the day ahead, consider not just the flavour in your cup but also the subtle impacts it may have on your body and mind.

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Laughing in limbo Canadian Just for Laughs cancelled

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The renowned Montreal-based Just for Laughs comedy festival, one of the world’s largest international comedy events, will not grace the calendar in 2024.

The Canadian company overseeing the festival announced its cancellation this year, citing efforts to steer clear of bankruptcy. Having marked its 40th anniversary in 2023, Just For Laughs has long been a beloved fixture on the city’s cultural landscape.

With its absence raising questions about which event will inherit the title of the biggest comedy festival, speculation arises whether Melbourne will seize the mantle, given its burgeoning comedy scene and the success of its own Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

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