Donald Trump is loving it.
He danced after making the announcement about the announcement, all smiles and signature clenched fists.
He has the look of a man who is back in the game – the rhetoric, too.
On stage in Ohio, Mr Trump labelled Nancy Pelosi – Speaker of the House of Representatives – an “animal”. Never mind common decency, or that her husband was recently attacked by an intruder with a hammer inside their home.
So inappropriate, so Trump, and his loyal audience lapped it up.
To them, bad patter isn’t an issue. They are just happy to have him back.
A solid Trump base provides a platform for his return. The support structure can only be enhanced by the many individuals, Trump-endorsed, expected to win office and authority at these midterm elections.
They assert the same unfounded claims of (2020) election fraud as Mr Trump himself – they wouldn’t have qualified for his endorsement otherwise. He is the kingmaker who wants to be king again, and they owe him.
It makes a Trump candidacy difficult for the Republican Party as a whole. Consider rival candidates for the top of the ticket in 2024. Potential contenders like Ron DeSantis, Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo would find it very difficult to engage in a contest with a strident and well-supported Trump leadership campaign.
His overwhelming presence and support could well dissuade rivals from standing and lead to a truncated party contest that was no contest at all.
Mr Trump’s return would also be a difficulty for the wider Republican Party, many of whom were happy to tolerate him while he delivered power over but don’t relish his return.
There is a constituency within the party that was happy to hold its nose and clutch its pearls when he carried them into government and, yet, grew weary over time. Having seen the back of Trump, they see a handbrake turn back towards chaos in Republican ranks – it concerns them and threatens cohesion in the party.
Trump vows to make ‘very big announcement’ next week
If a good night for the Republican Party would give Mr Trump’s comeback a push, it would give Joe Biden a pushback. He has said he’s confident of holding on to the Senate, which would preserve his clout as president and bolster the foundations of a run for the second term, if that is what he wants.
Biden regarded as liability – but he’s achieved
However, if he lost the Senate and the House of Representatives, Mr Biden would effectively be a lame-duck president, hamstrung by the numbers against him and threatened by impeachment and investigation into matters such as the Afghanistan withdrawal, his COVID policies, his relationship with his son Hunter’s business dealings, etc. Republicans have made it known they want to settle scores.
Mr Biden is regarded as something of a liability within the ranks of his own party. His popularity level stands at 40%, a historical low for a president at this stage in an election cycle.
And yet, Mr Biden has achieved. With a wafer-thin majority, he’s been productive on policy, with results on climate change, healthcare and wiping away student debt. Sadly, for him, he has probably delivered too late for the population at large to feel the economic benefit and too late for people who voted him in on a promise of change and waited too long to see it transpire.
Should the Democrats have a bad night, it will be argued that a key campaigning weakness has been around the message. The warning about democracy being on the ballot may be difficult to argue with, but it doesn’t chime with voters’ priorities at a time when the economy is flagging. Surveys show that inflation, fuel costs, crime, and immigration are further up the list of concerns.
It would raise questions for Mr Biden about electoral strategy and, as such, suitability for a second presidential run.
However, that assumes Democratic defeat and, as Mr Biden said himself, he thinks Democrats will hold on to the Senate.
It’s a hope worth holding onto – his career depends on it.