TThe final weekend before an election means both parties aim to make their final pitches before many voters head to the polls. While many have already cast their ballots in early voting — a trend that accelerated during the pandemic and is likely to remain a staple of every election afterward — there are still plenty of races up in the air.
Former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump criss-crossed Pennsylvania, as did current President Joe Biden, for their preferred candidates for governor and the closely watched Senate race.
Democrats are hoping for that outrage to topple the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade in its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization will galvanize voters while Republicans hope voters will continue to blame the party that controls the White House, House and Senate for rising grocery prices and crime.
Here are the five takeaways from last weekend.
The House race could go either way — but Republicans have the edge
NBC News released its latest national poll on Sunday, which said 48 percent of voters favor a Democratic-controlled Congress while 47 percent preferred GOP control, a reversal from last month when those numbers were reversed. In addition, Democrats have now closed the gap in voter enthusiasm, as 73 percent of voters in each party expressed strong interest.
Meanwhile, 53 percent of voters disapprove of the job President Joe Biden is doing, which could give Republicans the edge, and 47 percent of voters say they want a “big chunk of change.” That number is higher than it was at the same time in the first midterms for Trump, Obama and Bill Clinton, who all lost their House majorities during the midterms.
Trump draws blood…against DeSantis
The former president has made no secret of the fact that he may run for another term in 2024. But Republicans had hoped he would refrain from doing so until the final votes are counted for 2022. Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is coasting to a landslide victory in his home state after Republicans have praised him for quickly reopening the state amid the Covid-19 pandemic and his focus on opposing LGBTQ+ rights, restricting access to abortion and how racism is discussed in classrooms.
All of this has led elite Republican donors and pundits to see him as a potential 2024 contender for the Republican nomination, which is likely to have angered Trump. On Saturday night, while speaking in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, he cited a poll showing his lead among Republican voters and called Florida’s governor “Ron DeSanctimonious.”
Another example of the impending feud between two forces: On Sunday, the former president held a meeting in Miami with Sen. Marco Rubio, the man he once called “Liddle Marco” in the bitter 2016 Republican presidential race. But Mr. DeSantis chose to hold a rally in Hillsborough instead.
Republicans make their case for Latino voters
Republicans shocked many political pundits in 2020 when, five years after calling Mexicans drug dealers and rapists, he improved his margins with Latino voters, particularly in Florida’s Miami-Dade County and Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. The Republicans are nominating several Latino candidates for Congress.
At his rally in Miami, Trump was quick to point out his support for Hispanic voters. In addition, the former president was flanked by Cuban-American and Venezuelan-American rally-goers and often appealed to their strong opposition to communism by accusing Democrats of adopting the Marxist ideology.
“Many Hispanic Americans have roots in nations that have been destroyed by these vile ideologies,” he said. Similarly, he also noted that while many believed his rhetoric about building a wall on the US-Mexico border would alienate Hispanics, many in the Texas area approved of it.
“You know when I talked about the border and you know the biggest fans of it were Hispanic Hispanics,” he said.
Obama and Biden prioritize Pennsylvania
Mr Obama has spent the past few weeks criss-crossing the country for Democrats – a change from when many Democrats were griped that he was not doing enough for Democrats lower down the ballot and Republicans decimated scores of promising young candidates. But Democrats are particularly zeroing in on Pennsylvania’s Senate race, their best opportunity to flip a Senate seat.
On Saturday afternoon, Obama held a meeting across the street from the University of Pittsburgh with Senate nominee John Fetterman, as well as congressional candidates Summer Lee and Chris DeLuzio, who are running for open seats. Democrats have worried about Mr Fetterman ever since he suffered a stroke in May and he struggled at times to answer questions during his debate with the Republican Senate nominee and TV doctor Dr Oz.
But Obama came to Fetterman’s defense during his rally in Pittsburgh.
“John’s stroke didn’t change who he is, it didn’t change what he cares about, it didn’t change his values, his heart, his fight,” he said. “It didn’t change who he’s going to represent when he gets to the U.S. Senate. He’s going to represent you, and that’s what you deserve.”
Later in the day, Mr. Obama and Mr. Fetterman headed east to Philadelphia where they were joined by Mr. Biden and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro, who himself gave a speech that went viral and reshaped discussions about freedom. Mr. Biden, a Scranton native, also mocked Dr. Oz for not being from the state.
“I lived in Pennsylvania longer than Oz has lived in Pennsylvania,” he said. “And I moved away when I was 10 years old.”
Democrats push back on crime
For much of the election, Republicans have tried to appeal to suburban voters by pointing to rising crime in cities led by Democratic mayors and states led by Democratic governors. President Donald Trump repeated his frequent calls to impose the death penalty on all convicted drug dealers. Meanwhile, he has previously accused Fetterman of wanting to legalize all drugs and baselessly said Fetterman took them himself.
But Obama pointed out in Pittsburgh that crime was rising not only in blue areas but also in rural and Republican areas. Similarly, Summer Lee, the Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania’s 12th District, criticized Republicans for not focusing on gun violence or funding social services, public education infrastructure.
“I think it’s I think it’s so important that we don’t give the narrative away,” Lee told The Independent on Sunday ahead of a door-knocking event with Senator Bernie Sanders on Sunday. “And if we’re going to be serious about keeping our community safe and serious about eradicating racism within our criminal justice system, then we can’t lose sight of that when the going gets tough.”