OPINION - Challenges mount for Joe Biden administration as election nears

Amidst significant challenges in both domestic and foreign policy, Biden's campaign efforts to appeal to younger voters, including seeking endorsements from pop culture figures like Taylor Swift, underscore importance of youth vote

Cagdas Yuksel  | 06.02.2024 - Update : 06.02.2024
OPINION - Challenges mount for Joe Biden administration as election nears

- The author is a researcher at TRT World Research Center.


As the November Presidential elections draw near, US President Joe Biden's administration grapples with escalating challenges on both the domestic and international fronts. The crisis in Texas, stemming from issues of unauthorized immigration and border security, significantly undermines his stance in domestic politics. Concurrently, assaults on American forces in Iraq and Syria have complicated the US posture in the region, leading to severe criticism from Republican quarters. All these challenges raise questions about the ability of the incumbent administration to prevail in the upcoming elections.

Texas issue and border security

After Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced plans to erect new barbed wire fences along the border despite the recent decision of the Supreme Court, he immediately garnered backing from 25 Republican states and former US President Donald Trump.

According to the US Customs and Border Protection report, in the 2023 Fiscal Year, [1] a total of 2,475,669 individuals entered the US from Mexico through unauthorized means. This figure represents an increase of over 40% compared to the 2021 Fiscal Year and 4% more than the 2022 Fiscal Year.

Following the harsh criticisms and humanitarian scandals surrounding the unauthorized immigration policy of the Trump administration, Biden declared himself a candidate who would restore the honor and respect of the presidency by partially constructing a fair and humane immigration system.

However, since Biden took office, his immigration and border security policy has led to an additional 7.5 million [2] unauthorized entries nationwide, in addition to the known 1.7 million crossings. Along the southwest border, this policy has resulted in 6.2 million unauthorized entries.

Especially along the Ciudad Juarez – El Paso route, one of the most preferred routes used by immigrants, unauthorized migration to the state of Texas has brought [3] about inflation, a housing crisis, and security concerns. Additionally, it has imposed extra responsibilities on the border, making conservative Republicans more apprehensive about illegal immigrants and border security.

According to a June 2023 report [4] by the Pew Research Center, nearly 47% of Americans consider illegal immigration a significant issue in the country. The likelihood of Republicans considering illegal immigration a very big national problem is much higher, at 70%, compared to Democrats, at 25%.

This places the Biden administration at a perceived disadvantage on immigration matters as the election approaches, threatening the federal-state constitutional relationship and potentially solidifying the Republican base. The impact of this issue has already raised red flags amongst the tenets of the Democratic Party, and Biden seems more amenable to compromise, stating that he is ready to close the border if Congress passes a bipartisan bill granting him such authority.​​​​​​​

US challenges in Middle East

Since October 7th, more than 150 attacks [5] have been launched on US soldiers in the Middle East. The latest incident involved a drone attack on a military base in Jordan, resulting in the loss of 3 soldiers and injuries to 34 others. Biden attributed the attack to Iran-backed militias saying, "We will respond at a time and place of our choosing." This statement indicates that a limited retaliation will take place but the general modus vivendi with Iran is not under threat.

Despite initial efforts to focus on adversaries like Russia and China, Israel’s war on Gaza has reengaged the US in Middle Eastern politics. Initially, the Biden administration had focused on containing its potential adversary Russia in the conflict in Ukraine and was pursuing a similar strategy to contain China. Such policies allowed the US to maintain its global supremacy without actively engaging in warfare.

The US re-engagement in the Middle East provides a guarantee for Israel. For Russia, it means diverting the attention and interest of the US public away from the conflict in Ukraine. Other players have different standpoints often at the opposite end of the spectrum than Washington’s.

Republican criticism of Biden's response to attacks on US forces portrays him as weak, contrasting with the Trump administration's decisive actions, such as the assassination of Qasem Soleimani. This narrative could contribute to a perception of failure in the Middle East, particularly if Trump reenters the political arena with an isolationist stance, potentially allowing adversaries more freedom of action.

The tensions in the Middle East are likely to persist to the election, denting the chances of the Biden administration, which is often depicted as weak and meek by Republican quarters.

Is Taylor Swift key to winning youth vote?

Harvard Crimson Alumni in Professional Sports (CAPS)-Harris Poll showed [6] Trump leading Biden by 7 points in a one-on-one match-up 48% to 41%, respectively. The value of each vote is crucial in the election.

Amidst significant challenges in both domestic and foreign policy, Biden's campaign efforts to appeal to younger voters, including seeking endorsements from pop culture figures like Taylor Swift, underscore the importance of the youth vote. Surveys suggest Swift’s influence could sway younger voters. According to a survey conducted by the research firm Redfield & Wilton Strategies for Newsweek, one in five respondents stated that they would vote for a presidential candidate supported by the 34-year-old Swift, indicating a potential influence on young voters.

However, Biden’s support of Israel in the ongoing case at the International Court of Justice poses a dilemma, with many young people disapproving of his handling of the situation in Gaza. According to a New York Times Siena College poll, [7] about three-quarters of individuals aged 18 to 29 express their disapproval of Biden's handling of Israel’s onslaught on Gaza.

The Biden administration navigates a complex landscape of domestic immigration issues and foreign policy challenges in the Middle East, with the upcoming election casting a spotlight on these critical areas. The administration’s strategies, particularly in engaging younger voters and managing geopolitical tensions, will be crucial in shaping its electoral prospects and policy direction.








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