A version of this story appears in CNN’s What Matters newsletter. To receive it in your inbox, subscribe for free here.
The heavyweights of American politics are embarking on the campaign trail to deliver some closing arguments on the importance of next Tuesday’s election.
But their messages might not be understood.
President Joe Biden told donors in Florida this week that “democracy is on the ballot.”
Later, in a speech by Washington, DC, he warned of political violence across the country.
But in a nod to the realities of his own political toxicity, Biden has largely avoided events to stoke voters in states with key races.
RELATED: Live Campaign Season Ending Updates
In Arizona, former President Barack Obama, who is hugely popular and a real draw for Democrats, told a rally that if a list of Republican deniers wins next week, “democracy as we know it won’t may not survive in Arizona”.
He added: “This is not an exaggeration. That’s a fact.”
Candidates for secretary of state in Arizona and Nevada, in particular, have vowed to shake up electoral systems there to guard against widespread voter fraud, for which there is no evidence.
Former President Donald Trump will launch his latest blitz of rallies from Iowa, which is not the site of the most contested Senate race but is home to the first presidential preference contest in the upcoming 2024 primaries. .
At an earlier rally in Texas, Trump touted the election as an opportunity for the “MAGA movement” to take back the country from the Democrats.
CNN’s Gabby Orr and Jeff Zeleny have great insight into where Trump is headed, who he’s appearing with, and what it may mean. Note: Trump is not campaigning with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, but he is campaigning in Florida.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is also on the campaign trail — particularly to help Governor Kathy Hochul, the sluggish Democratic incumbent in New York who has struggled to fight her GOP challenger Rep. Lee Zeldin’s message that he would be better equipped to handle crime.
In a lengthy interview on CNN Thursday morning, Clinton told Don Lemon that Republicans were trying to scare voters with the crime message.
Democrats want voters to be fearful of the future when they cast their ballots, but Clinton admitted it can be difficult to make the case for what could happen versus what is happening.
“I would boil it down to this: it’s really hard to tell people what’s going to happen in the future when, naturally, they’re focused on the present. So, yes, people are worried about the cost of living, they are worried about the economy,” she said.
RELATED: 5 very scary numbers for Democrats in the new CNN poll
Former Washington, DC police officer Michael Fanone, who was injured in the January 6, 2021 riot at the United States Capitol, is less understanding than Clinton in what he writes for CNN Opinion.
“Until last week’s brutal assault on Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, political candidates, including many Democrats, avoided talking about Jan. 6. Apparently polls show that swing voters care more about gas prices and abortion,” he wrote in frustration.
“The greatest threat to democracy is indifference, which I believe will be our downfall as a nation,” he later added. “We don’t seem to care enough to pay attention to what’s happening to our country.”
RELATED: Here’s why 75% of likely voters think we’re in a recession – even though we probably aren’t
The messages from Biden, Obama, Trump, Clinton and Fanone are about the country as a whole. But this election, at its core, is about 435 House seats, 35 Senate races, 36 gubernatorial races, and everyone else who worked to get their name on a ballot.
There are so many election previews that it’s hard to follow them all at this point.
CNN’s Simone Pathe has her latest look at the 10 Senate seats most likely to flip. Unlike in the House, where the emerging consensus (for what it’s worth) is that Republicans have a very strong chance of capturing a dominant majority, control of the Senate remains a question mark.
Pathe key line: “Every race will count on Election Day as Republicans seek to take control of the equally divided House and dramatically shorten President Joe Biden’s second half of his term.”
And I’ll add my own note here: no party will emerge with the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster. The Senate will remain a roadblock, no matter who controls the committees and the sitting times.
CNN’s Eric Bradner and David Wright note that in key races like Senate contests in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where GOP candidates had spent the primary season appealing to the Trump wing of the party, they are now trying to moderate their positions.
I like the way they start this report:
Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin rakes the sheets, asking if voters are “tired of division and anger.” Tim Michels, the GOP gubernatorial candidate, drives a red van, promising a “new direction for Wisconsin.”
They noted a similar approach in several races where Republicans who had hit hard against the Democrats are now appealing to voters who are tired of politics.
Their bottom line: The GOP calls, which follow months of hard-hitting attacks on their Democratic opponents on crime and inflation, appear to be focused on winning over moderate voters, while Democrats draw stark contrasts aimed at energizing their base and spoil those Republican efforts.