What to Know in Washington: Midterm Enthusiasm Gap Closes

Democrats closed the gap with Republicans in voter enthusiasm during the final days before the US midterm elections, which remain “highly competitive,” according to an NBC News poll.

While that’s a measure of good news for President Joe Biden as his party seeks to retain control of both houses of Congress, a Washington Post-ABC News poll suggests that Republicans are more certain about actually casting a vote.

Both surveys provide renewed evidence that Republicans have the edge on economic concerns and that President Joe Biden’s popularity remains low. Republicans are positioned to take control of the House, according to the Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Registered Democrats and Republicans expressing high interest in the midterms are tied at 73% in the latest NBC poll, erasing Republicans’ 9 percentage-point edge in an October survey.

Michelle Gustafson / Bloomberg
Senate candidate John Fetterman, former President Barack Obama, gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro, and President Joe Biden hold a rally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Saturday, Nov. 5.

National trends aside, control of the Senate hinges on a few key races. Biden and former President Barack Obama stumped in Pennsylvania on Saturday for US Senate candidate John Fetterman, whose race with Republican contender Mehmet Oz has tightened in recent weeks.

Republicans have captured the momentum and caught up in polls in several high-profile races as attention has shifted to the economy. Opposition parties traditionally do well in midterm elections, and polls show that Republicans’ focus on the economy, inflation running at 40-year highs and crime has resonated among voters.

Biden’s approval rating was little changed at 44% in the NBC poll, with 53% of registered voters disapproving of his job performance and 70% saying the US is “headed in the wrong direction.” Read more from Ian Fisher

Democrats Float Combined Omnibus, NDAA as Lame-Duck Riders Mount

Democrats are floating a combined omnibus spending bill and defense authorization as lawmakers flood leaders with items they want attached to both packages they aim to pass in December.

Leaders in both parties are reviewing long lists of items to ride on either the must-pass fiscal 2023 omnibus appropriations package or the National Defense Authorization Act that sets policy for the Pentagon and other programs.

The Democrats’ potential losses of their slim House and Senate majorities are driving Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to look at the year-end measures as vehicles for clearing as much unfinished business as possible.

Photographer: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg
Schumer speaks during a news conference at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 28.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are also interested in getting spending bills and NDAA done for a “clean slate” if they’re in the majority in January.

Lawmakers return Nov. 14 to discuss next steps but won’t solidify their endgame until after the lame-duck session begins in earnest Nov. 28. Bipartisan Senate leaders already agreed to add items to the chamber’s version of the $847 billion NDAA (H.R. 7900) when it was brought to the floor last month and could insert more. The 12-bill omnibus appropriations package would likely be the last major item of business before adjournment, now targeted for Dec. 21 according to the Senate calendar. Lawmakers have to act on spending legislation by Dec. 16, when the current stopgap measure (Public Law 117-167) expires.

Top Senate aides said a combined omnibus-NDAA package would be a leading option to expedite work and simultaneously overcome political opposition. Read more from Nancy Ognanovich.

Elections, Politics & Probes

Three Presidents, One Senate Race: All Eyes on Pennsylvania

Biden, Obama and Donald Trump all converged on Pennsylvania in a last-ditch effort to close the deal on the midterm elections in a state that’s a critical step on the path to the White House in 2024.

N.Y. ‘Toss Up’ Race Puts Newcomer’s Big Law Background on Ballot

A political newcomer who left a major law firm to run as a Democrat for Congress in upstate New York is locked in a tight race with a GOP veteran—one of several contests that could help determine control of the US House.

Law Firms Step Up Voter Suppression Fight in Tomorrow’s Midterms

Big Law attorneys by the hundreds are staffing phone lines and fielding complaints in pro bono efforts to ensure voters’ rights are upheld in tomorrow’s midterm elections.

Voting Lawsuits From Illinois to Arizona Soar Ahead of Midterms

Americans are headed to the ballot box amid a surge of partisan election lawsuits in another sign of growing US polarization around the franchise. Even before Tuesday’s midterm elections, more lawsuits have been filed this year than in all of 2020 by Democrats and Republicans challenging everything from who can vote to where ballots are collected and monitored.

Billionaires Reshape Governor Races With Just 0.01% of Fortunes

Oregon may be on the brink of a seismic shift in its politics — and it only cost Phil Knight 0.01% of his $35.5 billion family fortune to help bring it about.

Biden Calls Protesters ‘Idiots’ for Holding Anti-Socialism Signs

Biden called protesters holding signs denouncing socialism “idiots” and warned Republicans would try to cut Social Security and Medicare if they win control of Congress in Tuesday’s midterm elections.

Biden’s Campaign Trail Asides Distract From Pre-Midterm Message

Biden’s five-state trip ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections was meant to boost Democrats facing narrow odds of winning.

Biden Says Musk Bought Platform That ‘Spews Lies’ Around World

Biden criticized Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, saying the social media platform was responsible for spewing lies.

Twitter Cuts Spur Concerns About US Midterms, Human Rights

Musk’s broad-based cuts at Twitter are leading current and former employees to question whether the social network will have the resources to keep crucial systems like content moderation running effectively, including during the US midterm elections on Tuesday.

Twitter Delays Change to Check-Mark Badges Until After Midterms

Twitter is delaying the rollout of verification check marks for members of its monthly subscription service until after Tuesday’s US midterm elections, according to people familiar with the matter.

Happening on the Hill

Trump Gets Extension to Next Week to Comply With Jan. 6 Subpoena

Leaders of the House committee investigating the attack on the US Capitol said Friday they’ve given Trump a short extension to begin producing records under a panel subpoena.

Senior Democrat Waters Says ‘Enough Is Enough’ on Fed Hikes

House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters, whose panel oversees the Federal Reserve, said she was “deeply troubled” by the central bank’s steep interest-rate hikes and urged Chair Jerome Powell to pause the increases.

Republican Trio Tells FTC To Leave Data Privacy to Congress

A trio of Republican lawmakers is urging the Federal Trade Commission to withdraw its rulemaking effort on consumer data protections and leave policymaking to Congress.

Looking to 2024

Cotton Forgoes 2024 Presidential Run as Trump Readies Third Bid

Arkansas US Senator Tom Cotton has decided against waging a 2024 presidential run, the first Republican aspirant to forgo a bid as Trump readies a third White House campaign.

Trump Attacks DeSantis as He Hints Again at Presidential Run

Trump suggested an announcement that he plans to make another White House bid is imminent and attacked Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at a rally in Pennsylvania, a sign the former president is training his ire on a potential chief rival in a 2024 GOP primary.

DeSantis Declines to Take Trump’s Bait as Both Rally in Florida

DeSantis sidestepped a barb by Trump during the home stretch of his Florida re-election campaign, avoiding a confrontation that seems likely to spill into the open once the 2024 presidential race gets under way.

Economy of Extremes Looms Over US Voters on Midterm Election Eve

The state of the US economy holds the key to who will win control of Congress in Tuesday’s midterm election — or at least, that’s what American voters say.

White House Defends Biden End-of-Coal Remark Manchin Deride

The White House sought to reframe comments by Biden on closing coal plants as part of a US “energy transition,” responding to harsh criticism by West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin days before midterm elections with Democratic congressional majorities at stake.

Sky-High Electricity Is Biden’s New Pain Point Before Elections

For months now, high gasoline prices have been arguably the most visible political pain point for Biden. In most towns, they can be seen every few blocks on signs at filling stations. It’s the fundamental commodity Americans need to go to work, buy groceries and get around.

Biden’s Big Oil Feud Ignites Just as World Needs US Crude

As October drew to a close, the White House saw another potential energy flash point on the horizon.

Around the Administration


  • Biden will participate in a virtual reception for the Democratic National Committee at 4 p.m.
  • He will depart the White House with First Lady Jill Biden to Bowie, Maryland at 5:45 p.m. for a rally to support gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore.
  • Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will hold a press briefing at 1:45 p.m.

Barrett Refuses Again to Block Biden’s Student-Debt Relief Plan

US Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett refused for the second time to block Biden’s student-loan relief plan, turning away two Indiana men who contended the plan will force some borrowers to pay higher state taxes.

Student-Debt Relief Taxation May Bring ‘Short-Term Pain’

For some borrowers, the impact of the White House’s student-debt forgiveness program may be influenced by the interpretation and implementation of tax law.

Machinists Union Approves Biden Rail Deal on Second Vote

Nearly 5,000 workers affiliated with the International Association of Machinists approved a second tentative labor agreement with freight rail carriers, potentially putting off a complete rail shutdown in the next several weeks.

Pfizer’s Paxlovid Antiviral Lowered Long-Covid Risk in Study

Pfizer’s blockbuster Paxlovid antiviral that lowers rates of illness and death in people infected with the coronavirus also cuts the risk of some symptoms of disabling long Covid, a study found.

Defense & Foreign Affairs

EU Warns US of Potential Retaliation in Green Subsidies Dispute

The European Union called on the US to amend certain tax benefits contained in recently-enacted green legislation given what it called their discriminatory nature, and warned of potential retaliation.

US-China Friction Gives Kim Jong Un the Freedom to Fire Away

North Korea’s unprecedented barrage of missiles is underscoring the cost of Washington’s tensions with Beijing, since China has shown little appetite for additional sanctions over the country’s nuclear program.

China Starts COP27 With Call for Climate Aid to Poorer Nations

China’s top envoy for climate change called for more aid to developing nations as delegates from about 200 countries arrived in Egypt for a new round of global negotiations.

To contact the reporters on this story: Michaela Ross in Washington at mross@bgov.com; Brandon Lee in Washington at blee@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Small at asmall@bgov.com