As citizens become increasingly confident that the pandemic is declining and that the economy is preparing, social issues are emerging and developments in two such areas, crime and abortion, could be reformed. the playing field for the 2022 midterm elections.
When Joe Biden was sworn in as president, the American people viewed the coronavirus pandemic and the economy as the top priorities for Congress and the administration. But now, just four months later, the picture is changing rapidly. Fifty-eight percent of Americans say the worst of the pandemic is behind them and 43% believe the economy is improving, compared to 29% in January.
The most recent detailed survey, completed on May 26 by YouGov, highlights these trends. When asked what topics were “very big issues,” 49% of Americans place violent crime at the top of the list, compared to 39% of the economy and only 32% of the pandemic. Forty-five percent of Democrats view violent crime as a very big problem, a startling finding that is partly explained by the fact that 59% of blacks and 52% of Hispanics place it in that category.
The policy of violent crime is complex. On the one hand, with a margin of 51 to 41 percent, Americans agree that “there is a problem with systemic racism in the police.” Conservatives offering the familiar exculpatory mantra – “some bad apples” – are losing credibility. On the other hand, only 23% of Americans think that cutting funding to police departments is the right answer. Only 35% of blacks, 26% of Hispanics, and 36% of Democrats support funding cuts. In general, most Americans want fairer police and no less police.
During his presidential career, Joe Biden understood these sentiments and quickly rejected demands to “detune the police.” Across the country, Democratic mayors have refused to do so, including some who initially supported those demands.
Still, official statistics support the public’s perception that violent crime worsens and top-down elected officials are likely to be held accountable. Only 36% of Americans approve of the management of this problem by President Biden, much less than by his management of the pandemic (54%) and the economy (45%). And the administration’s efforts to get an effective response will face a Democratic party that is divided on the issue, giving Republicans a chance to gain ground.
The policy of abortion is very different. Public opinion has been stable for decades. Few Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all circumstances, let alone support the widespread ban. Most think it should be available, subject to limitations, but disagree on what limits are appropriate. Most Americans believe that the Supreme Court struck a defensible balance in its decision Roe v. Wade is almost 50 years old and, according to YouGov, only 3 out of 10 want to see it canceled.
But recent events may alter this status quo. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case assessing the constitutionality of a Mississippi law that would ban all abortions later than 15 weeks after conception. Defending this law would mean overthrowing much, if not all of Roe, fulfilling the long-held dream of anti-abortion activists.
Veteran observers believe the Court is more likely not to do so. This is significant because few voters agree. Even when he was informed that “Amy Coney Barrett has joined the Supreme Court, creating a conservative 6-3 majority,” only 21% of Americans in the YouGov poll are confident Roe will be annulled · Lat. Most Democrats were born after abortion became a constitutional right and they find it hard to imagine a different reality. Anti-abortion Republicans, who make up about three-quarters of their party, have endured repeated disappointments on the road to Roe’s defeat and don’t believe the outcome this time is any different.
In this context of public expectations, a Supreme Court decision to raise the status quo, which would arrive no later than June 2022, would affect the electorate like a bomb and abortion rights would be moved to the center of the mid-term elections. Most Republican voters would celebrate, but few Republican strategists would join. Here’s why.
Right now, Republicans are more mobilized to oppose the Biden administration than Democrats to support it, an asymmetry that could produce the mirror image of the 2018 interim periods, when Democrats gained big gains and regained a majority in the House of Representatives. The Supreme Court could change this dynamic in a hurry. Democrats — especially women Democrats — would protest in the streets and many independents and suburban Republicans would join. Moderate Democrats for whom much of Biden’s agenda is politically problematic would be given a number that enjoys majority support in their districts, with an identifiable enemy that evokes passionate opposition. This single issue would offset the political vulnerabilities of Democrats on other fronts and allow them to maintain control of the House.
It is strange to imagine that a Conservative-dominated Supreme Court could save President Biden’s legislative agenda in 2023. But many stranger things have happened over the past five years.