By Isaac Cohen*
The results of the legislative and state elections recently held in the United States have tested, once more, the belief that the economy determines politics. In fact, other accepted truths were also challenged by the results. For instance, that the party in control of the White House almost always loses seats in Congress. However, perhaps the most impressive upset of accepted wisdom was to the assertion, confirmed in almost every poll, that current inflation would be the determining factor for the majority.
Before the elections, several polls revealed that around 70 per cent of those surveyed said the country was going in the wrong direction. While the rate of approval of President Joseph Biden, in around 40 percent, resembled other presidents who lost mid-term elections. Specifically, on the economy, only 20 percent saw it as good or excellent, with more than two thirds concerned about inflation.
At the end of the day, other factors were more influential, such as the quality of most of the candidates supported by the former president and women’s reproductive rights. One conclusion may be drawn from the fact that the economy was not the most decisive factor in last week’s elections: the relationship between economics and politics is not a one-way street. Albert O. Hirschman said it better, political and economic progress are tied together to an “on an off connection.” (A Propensity to Self-Subversion, Harvard University Press 1995, pp. 221-230).
*International analyst and consultant, former Director ECLAC Washington. Commentator on economic and financial issues for CNN en Español TV and radio, UNIVISION, TELEMUNDO and other media.