It is too early to tell how the outlook is shaping up for 2022. The challenge will be significant for Democrats who barely have control of the House and Senate. The next round of gerrymandering in states controlled by the GOP will give the party a helping hand with regards to the House.
For President Biden, there are a number of political issues at stake in what happens in November 2022.
Agenda: One of the greatest powers of the presidency is the ability to sway what issues the nation’s elected officials are focusing on. When the president decides to focus some of his time on any particular issue, much of Washington often follows. We have seen this, for instance, with infrastructure. Even if the other party doesn’t agree with what the presidency is doing, they find themselves debating the president’s agenda rather than their own.
Republicans are eager to turn national attention toward a set of issues they believe will be to the advantage their party: border control, crime, the classroom culture wars, and inflation. Although Republicans have already achieved considerable success keeping these topics front and center — helped in large part by Fox News and other conservative media outlets that offer a mechanism to counteract any Democratic bully pulpit — a shift in control of either chamber would make it considerably more difficult for President Biden to keep attention on the issues that concern his party, such as climate change and the social safety net.
To be sure, strong midterm performances don’t always have this effect. Though Democrats were devastated when the GOP took control of Congress in 1994, President Clinton was able to decisively defeat Senator Robert Dole in 1996.
In 2023, Republican control of the House or Senate would likely help the GOP. Republican senators hoping to run for the White House in 2024 would have new opportunities for national attention. A Republican House or Senate could shift attention toward questions that would benefit possible candidates who are currently serving as governors. And given the close alignment of Congressional Republicans to former President Trump, this would clearly boost his chances for reelection.