One year following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Virginia Tech political science expert Karen Hult says that Democrats and Republicans will use this opportunity to push their political agenda and rally supporters.

“For President Biden, the ‘anniversary’ comes at a particularly challenging time in his presidency: declining approval levels, COVID spikes, stalled legislation, ongoing tensions with Russia, and intraparty disagreements,” says Hult. “Biden may also use this opportunity as a platform to push again for passage of voting-rights legislation in the Senate.”

“Securing the bill’s passage is itself a clear risk: in the present context of partisan polarization and the need for a change in the Senate filibuster rule, the President may worsen his relationship with Democratic Senator Manchin who does not support altering Senate rules. Yet Biden and many of his supporters may well believe this is the time for a full-throated defense of U.S. representative democracy,” says Hult.

For Republicans, Hult says this also may be an opportunity for the media spotlight to return to former President Trump, which could fuel financial contributions and social media attention. Many supporters want him to run for president in 2024. Yet, Trump’s cancellation of a press conference scheduled for 5 p.m. on January 6 may signal both an emphasis on the 2022 midterm elections and an effort to portray Democrats as stuck in the negativity of the past.  

“Many also support Republican primary challenges of those more lukewarm to Trump in the 2022 U.S. House and Senate races and in elections for statewide offices. Also of interest may be the responses and positioning of other prominent Republicans,” says Hult.

According to Hult, those might include, for example, Trump-endorsed candidates for other offices (e.g., Maryland gubernatorial candidate Daniel Cox, Georgia U.S. Senate hopeful Herschel Walker); possible 2024 presidential and vice-presidential aspirants such as Governors Abbott (TX), DeSantis (FL), and Hogan (MD) as well as Governor-elect Youngkin (VA).

“The former President’s response remains directed at and inspired by the significant proportions of Republicans who tell pollsters they do not believe Biden was legitimately elected president and do not hold Trump primarily responsible for the January 6 insurrection,” says Hult.

About Karen Hult

Virginia Tech political science professor Karen Hult teaches political science at Virginia Tech and its Center for Public Administration & Policy, with expertise in the U.S. Presidency and organizational and institutional theory.

Schedule interview

To schedule an interview with Karen Hult, contact Shannon Andrea by email, or by phone at (703) 399-9494


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