After a wild and unpredictable midterm campaign in which longtime incumbents lost to political novices, some traditionally red states became in play for Democrats (see: Texas) and a Supreme Court confirmation turned vicious, candidates have just one more day to make their closing arguments to voters.
Many Americans have already voted, but most will do so Tuesday. In the past week or so, it has become clear what campaigns are prioritizing in this final push. Some Republicans, led by President Trump, have decided to go all in on a fear tactic that is largely aimed at energizing their base. Others brought out megawatt star power to make their case. Oprah Winfrey literally showed up on doorsteps in Georgia to encourage people to vote.
We’ve rounded up some noteworthy closing arguments to give you a picture of where things stand as we head into the last day of campaigning.
Trump and the fear factor: At rallies over the weekend, Trump continued to talk about his hard-line effort to keeps immigrants from entering the country illegally. Last week, the Trump campaign released an ad, which the president shared on Twitter, that splices video of Luis Bracamontes, an undocumented immigrant who killed two police officers, with images of a migrant caravan, intending to draw a parallel between a violent criminal and a group of people who are headed toward the U.S. southern border. It drew an immediate backlash and comparisons to the infamous Willie Horton ad.
Our Washington Post colleagues Philip Rucker and Felicia Sonmez noted that although some Republicans have sought to distance themselves from Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, other Republicans have adopted it in their campaigns.
Take Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the Republican Senate nominee in Tennessee, who has a recent ad featuring footage of the caravan and warns that it includes “gang members, known criminals, people from the Middle East, possibly even terrorists.”
Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) is running a Facebook ad featuring a photo of three tattooed Latino men with the message “I will protect Georgia from violent criminal gangs.”
Preexisting conditions? Of course: Other Republicans in tough races are still trying to convince voters that they’ve supported protections for preexisting conditions all along. In the latest twist, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), a longtime critic of the Affordable Care Act who is helping to lead a lawsuit to kill the law, said that not only does he want those protections preserved, but he wants it done exactly as it is in the ACA.
"No matter what happens in the courts or in the Congress, in Wisconsin we’ll codify that, the exact same language that’s in the Affordable Care Act,” Walker said. “We’ll make sure everyone living with a preexisting condition is covered here in the state.”
As our colleague Elise Viebeck wrote, it’s a page straight out of the Trump playbook: “insisting that they will support what they once opposed with no acknowledgment of their about-face.”
Breaking out the star power: Democrats, meanwhile, are doing what they always do at the tail end of a campaign: trotting out the stars. An array of A-listers is working to get out the vote, but no one will top Democratic Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’s assist last week from none other than Winfrey.
Lady O gave an impassioned speech Thursday about why African Americans needed to work to honor those who fought for that right, and then went canvassing, shocking voters who opened their doors to find her holding a clipboard on the other side.
Abrams, as well as several other Democrats in tough races, are also getting a boost from former president Barack Obama, whose presence on the trail creates a significant contrast with the current president.
Dire warnings: Both sides are presenting a doomsday scenario if the other side wins control of Congress. Former vice president Joe Biden said at a rally on Saturday, “The very character of our country is on the ballot on Tuesday,” while Trump says “Democrats produce mobs.” American political discourse has devolved so much that not only do partisans view the other side as the enemy, they also argue that their political foes are dangerous for the country.
But while Democrats raise concerns about the future of democracy under Trump and Republicans, Trump has devised an apocalyptic narrative about America with Democrats in control. Describing Trump’s strategy, Rucker wrote Sunday:
“But at one mega-rally after another in the run-up to Tuesday’s midterm elections, Trump has taken his no-boundaries political ethos to a new level — demagoguing the Democrats in a whirl of distortion and using the power of the federal government to amplify his fantastical arguments.”
Trump’s election?: This election was always going to be a referendum on Trump. Since the day he was elected, his critics looked on to 2018 as the next chance to put a check on his power. Trump knows this, and if Republicans manage to keep the House and the Senate, he will take credit for it. If they lose the House, as there is a strong chance they will do, Trump has already made clear that he will absolve himself of blame. If somehow they lose the Senate, too, it will be interesting to see how Trump responds; he has crisscrossed the country campaigning primarily for Senate candidates.
Softer moments: The GOP congressman whose House district includes some Pittsburgh suburbs made a final ad that has nothing to do with policy or politics, but is clearly a reaction to the synagogue shooting on Oct. 27. Rep. Keith Rothfus’s ad features black-and-white images of people and families of all races and religions with the message that we are all one America.
Regardless of one’s politics (and Rothfus has aligned himself with Trump on most issues), the ad was a nice antidote to the recent ugliness.