Joe Biden may not have to worry about “working across the aisle” with Republicans in order to push through his “Build Back Better” plan for the American economy. PredictIt is pricing the probability of the Democratic Party winning both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House at $.62. A Biden win is being priced at $.65.
Mr Biden has been chided by President Trump for his “stay in the bunker” approach to campaigning. Since winning the Democratic Party nomination, Mr Biden has been opting for relatively fewer public campaign appearances when compared to those of Mr Trump. With three weeks left until the election, Mr Biden’s public campaign focus has been on larger battleground states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio. His public appearances are known for social distancing and answering few questions.
A sweep of the Oval Office and the Congress would be necessary just to push trillions of dollars in economic recovery including his $150 billion opportunity package for minority-owned small businesses. But first he will need help from Democrats challenging incumbent Republican senators for their seats.
By my estimation, six Republican senators are in danger of losing their seats with another four threading water. Based on polling data from FiveThirtyEight, the six senators likely to lose their seats are:
Susan Collins (Maine);
Joni Ernst (Iowa);
Cory Gardner (Colorado);
David Purdue (Georgia);
Kelly Loefler (Georgia); and
Thom Tillis (North Carolina).
With Mr Trump either tied in Iowa or trailing in Colorado and North Carolina, neither Ms Ernst, Mr Gardner, or Mr Tillis have much of a Trump coattail to hang on to. Ms Collins’ tendency to appear ready to buck the President may cost her the ability to ride the President’s coattails as woven by his eight point lead over Joe Biden in Maine.
Lindsey Graham (South Carolina); Martha McSally (Arizona); Steve Daines (Montana); and James Risch (Idaho), due to Trump leads in their states, may have a chance to pull a rabbit out of their respective hats, but time is ticking.
What should not be overlooked is the level of support Mr Biden should expect from the six Democratic candidates in a position to unseat the above Republican candidates. Even if the Democrats sweep the Oval Office and the Congress, the White House will have to persuade key senators to get on board with trillions in spending and new bond issuances likely at higher rates of interest.
I expect, at least in the early part of her Senate tenure, that Sara Gideon, the Democratic senate challenger in Maine, will be an ally to Mr Biden. Ms Gideon endorsed Mr Biden during the primaries. In return, Mr Biden extended his support to Ms Gideon in the form of an endorsement, while Dr Jill Biden, wife of the nominee, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, expressed their support for Ms Gideon during campaign stops in Maine.
Theresa Greenfield, the Democratic senate challenger in Iowa, seems to be holding her cards close to her chest. She has not endorsed Mr Biden although she is reportedly open to parts of his vision on American labor policy. My review has also found no campaign trips to Iowa on the part of Mr Biden or his surrogates in support of Ms Greenfield. Should Ms Greenfield win her senate race against Ms Ernst without Mr Biden’s support, she may have sufficient political capital to maintain her independence of the White House.
John Hickenlooper, the Democratic senate candidate trying to unseat Cory Gardner in Colorado, may have established his independence from Joe Biden early as well. Although Mr Hickenlooper expressed his support for Mr Biden during the former vice-president’s primary campaign, Mr Hickenlooper also expressed his support for Tara Reade, a woman alleging that Mr Biden had sexually assaulted her. My review has found no expression of support by the Biden campaign for Mr Hickenlooper. Given Mr Hickenlooper’s ability to raise campaign finances on his own and his ten point lead in the polls without Mr Biden’s assistance, Mr Hickenlooper may, should he and Mr Biden win their respective races, be able to express a lot of political independence in the Senate.
Raphael Warnock is challenging Kelly Loeffler for one of Georgia’s seats in the U.S. Senate. Georgia is a toss-up state and Mr Biden has not come out and endorsed the former pastor. Mr Warnock has racked up support from various political action committees and received endorsements from at least 25 Democratic senators, U.S. Representative James Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina, and Stacey Abrams, a former Georgia Senate minority leader and gubernatorial candidate. Mr Warnock is running ahead of Ms Loeffler and looks like a shoe-in for a run-off with the other Republican challenger, U.S. Representative Doug Collins. All three are in a special race to fill the unexpired term and fill the seat in the 117th Congress of retired U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson.
Jon Ossoff is challenging for Georgia’s other U.S. Senate seat currently held by David Perdue. Our review also found no expressed support or endorsement of Ossoff on the part of the Biden campaign. The Ossoff-Perdue face-off like the Trump-Biden face-off is a toss-up. If Ossoff holds his slim lead over Perdue, it will not be due to any help from the Biden campaign.
Finally, a sex scandal involving the Democratic candidate for North Carolina’s U.S. Senate seat, Cal Cunningham and a positive Covid-19 test for incumbent Republican senator Tom Tillis might not completely evaporate Mr Cunningham’s lead over Mr Tillis. Mr Biden has not endorsed Mr Cunningham. Like the other candidates discussed, if Mr Cunningham holds on to his lead, he would have done so without the help of Mr Biden and could exercise independence from the White House while in the Senate.
While a Democratic sweep is increasingly likely, though not a surety, Mr Biden’s approach to bunker campaigning will not carry over to governing. A president’s most important power is his ability to persuade and with the possibility of six senators, where five of them win tight races, optimizing their independence, Democratic voters should expect the occasional bumpy ride as Mr Biden tries to convince his own party to pass his initiatives.