Biden holds final rally on friendly ground

One day before midterm elections that could sharply curtail his power in Washington, President Joe Biden will hold a rally on friendly terrain in an event that underlines the difficult prospects for his Democratic Party.

Rather than making a final pitch to voters in a hotly contested swing state, Biden will hold a rally in reliably Democratic Maryland, as his sagging popularity has made him unwelcome in much of the country.

Weighed down by voter frustrations over rising prices, Biden's Democrats fear the elections on Tuesday could see them lose control of one or both chambers of Congress.

Analysts expect Republicans to win control of the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate as well.

That would spell the end of Biden's legislative agenda and open the door for two years of potentially damaging Republican-led investigations. A Republican-led Senate could also block his nominations for judicial or administrative posts.

Biden has warned that a Republican victory could weaken the foundations of democracy itself.

"Democracy is literally on the ballot," he said at a rally in Yonkers, New York, on Sunday.

Many Republican candidates have echoed former President Donald Trump's baseless claims of fraud in his 2020 election defeat.

Some of them could end up as governors or election administrators in battleground states and play a central role in the 2024 presidential race.

Trump has had a significant role in the midterms, shaping the Republican field through endorsements and hinting at another presidential run at campaign rallies. He is due to speak in Ohio on Monday.

With narrow control of the House of Representatives and the Senate, Biden's Democrats helped him to fulfill campaign promises to boost clean energy, fight the COVID-19 pandemic and finance the rebuilding of crumbling roads and bridges.

But surging inflation and fears of rising crime have led many voters to sour on his leadership. Only 40 per cent of Americans approve of his job performance, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll completed on Tuesday.

Despite Biden's warnings about democracy, many of his fellow Democrats have emphasised more practical matters, such as their work to lower prescription drug prices and defend the Social Security safety-net program.

While Democrats also campaigned on abortion rights, opinion polls show that has faded as a top voter concern.

Biden's unpopularity has made him an unwelcome guest in many of the most competitive states, where Democratic candidates have declined to appear with him or say whether they would back him for re-election.

Instead, his travels have been confined to Democratic strongholds in the final days before the election.

On Monday, he will speak at a rally in Maryland with gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore, who is expected to easily win his race. If elected, Moore would be only the third Black governor in US history.

More than 40 million American have already cast their ballots, either in person or through the mail, according to the US Elections Project, which tracks early voting.

Because some states allow ballots to be mailed on election day, experts say it might be days or weeks before the outcome of some close races - and control of Congress - is clear.