US Midterm Elections, Put Simply

By Campaign Agent Sophia Esquenazi

With U.S. midterm elections quickly approaching, many are wondering how the outcome will affect the nation’s future. While some predict that Democrats will gain control of both chambers of Congress, others argue that Republicans will retain a slim majority.

Midterm elections in the United States take place halfway through a presidential term. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and one-third of the 100 seats in the Senate are contested. Additionally, elections for governor in 36 of the 50 states take place. The importance of these elections lies in that fact that the results can greatly impact future legislation that is proposed and passed. It determines the political party- Democrat or Republican- that will control each chamber of Congress for the next two years, the party with the majority being the one that has a greater chance of passing its proposed legislation.

Currently, Republicans have both a House and Senate majority. While this has been the case for the past two years under President Donald Trump, history demonstrates that midterm elections can often be disadvantageous to the party in power, as the party of the incumbent president has had a tendency to lose seats in both chambers of Congress. In 1994, for example, under Democratic President Bill Clinton, Republicans captured the U.S. House, Senate, and majority of governorships in what was later called the “Republican Revolution.” In 2006, following the controversial Iraq war and decreased approval ratings of President Bush, Republicans lost 30 seats and control of the house, as well control of the Senate. More recently, in 2014, under President Obama, Democrats lost the House and Senate.

With this pattern having occurred on several occasions, many predict Democrats are poised for big wins in November. In order to capture control of the house, Democrats need a net gain of 23 seats, and a net gain of two seats in the Senate to have a majority.

Among the many factors that political analysts have been taking into consideration in this year’s election is Trump’s approval ratings. According to a Gallup weekly tracking poll, Trump had a 42% approval rating, suggesting a possibility that Republicans will lose the House.

Some Republicans, nonetheless, have confidence that they can still perform better than expected in the midterms because of the country’s strong economy. With the recent announcement that the U.S. economy grew at 4.1% in the second quarter, Republicans are hoping that this news will help them keep seats in Congress. A strong economy, however, does not guarantee positive results for the party of the president, as observed throughout history. In 1994, the U.S. economy was growing and Democrats lost control of the House and Senate. Later, in 1996 the economy was also very strong but the Democratic majority decreased when they lost 47 seats in the House. In 2014, the last time the economy was doing as well as today, Republicans regained control of the Senate.

Voter turnout has also been at the forefront of these elections. A recent study from Pew Research, shows that there has been an increase in turnout in primaries this year, state-level elections where party members vote to choose a candidate affiliated with their political party. While polls reveal that Democratic voters are more eager to go to the polls than Republicans in the 2018 midterms, there continues to be volatility in young voter turnout, which can greatly affect the results.

Democrats are also nominating more women to run for congress than ever before. So far, 41% of all Democratic Party nominees are women. CNN’s June data reveals that women will vote for Democrats over Republicans by a 25-point margin in 2018.

With primary elections still underway, the various aforementioned factors must be closely watched as they will largely impact the results. The days leading up to the midterm elections must also be analyzed, as it continues to be uncertain who will win a majority in the House of Representatives and Senate.

Sources and Further Reading

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