News out of Afghanistan dominated the headlines last week, and will continue to be a major news story for a while. But how will it affect the midterms next fall?
Conventional wisdom says that domestic issues are top priority in non-presidential election years, which makes sense, but I thought I’d look back to 2006 when the Iraq War was dominating headlines just months prior to the midterms later that fall. At that time, there were many reports of violence and the rising cost of the war effort in the Middle East.
According to this report from the Council on Foreign Relations, a Pew Research Center survey conducted in September of 2006 showed that Americans were twice as more preoccupied with “foreign and security issues” than they were with domestic economic issues. Republicans seized on the “security” issues and introduced legislation in Congress regarding immigration, border security, etc.
Fast forward to today. Now, only being a week into the pullout of Afghanistan, there is still a lot that can happen in how Americans perceive the situation. Nevertheless, NBC just conducted a survey and asked respondents to name their top issue when it came to their vote for U.S. Congress members — Afghanistan didn’t even make the list. Economy/jobs was number 1 by a long shot. It was, however, followed by immigration/border control issues, so I think we can guarantee Republicans will lean on that topic going into the midterms.
That said, there doesn’t seem to be much of an indication, even when the topic is foremost on the news networks, that Americans consider Afghanistan as an important issue for the midterms.
My last caveat — this is a snapshot in a moment in time. How Americans view our government’s handling of Afghanistan could change. If I had to take a guess, I think the Republicans will do whatever they can to tie congressional Democrats to what they believe is a failure on Biden’s part, but I don’t think those attacks will affect the midterms. (They could, however, affect Biden’s re-election in 2024.)
I’ll close by pointing out that in 2006, despite how Republicans framed the issue, the Democrats won control of both the House and Senate, and made Nancy Pelosi the first Speaker of the House.
CALIFORNIA VOTERS: A reminder that your ballot should have arrived at your home by now. Please vote NO — i.e. you don’t want Governor Newsom to be recalled — and return your ballot right away.