U.S. Midterms just around the corner

Experts believe turnout may be an increase on previous years. Source: Wikimedia

By Silvia Martelli

They will be a referendum on President Donald Trump. They will be a test for Republicans. They’ll be a chance for Democrats to steer the legislative agenda. Any way you slice it, the U.S. midterm elections will allow for a significant change within the Congress. The outcomes may reshape the American political landscape ahead of the next presidential elections. They will be held on November 6.

What are the US midterms?

They are national elections held every four years, halfway through every presidential term. This year, all 435 House seats will be in contention as its members serve a two-year term. The Senate works differently, never all standing for election at one time. Senators (100 in total, two per each state) serve six-year terms, so only a third of the seats (35) will be up for grabs. Aside from Congress, this year there are 39 state and territorial governorships in play.

Why do midterms matter?

The results of midterms will be decisive for Trump’s policy agenda: if Republicans manage to hold on to their majority in Congress, the President can expect less resistance when pushing through his policies. On the other hand, if Democrats can take back either House, Trump’s policy plans will be disrupted and a number of his campaign promises will not end up being implemented.

Who votes?

According to the US Census Bureau, 157.6 million people are registered to vote throughout the country. However, midterms voter turnout is usually much lower than in presidential elections, stagnating at around 40%. Registered voters who tend to drop off are usually those on a lower-income, minorities, the less educated, the youth, or female voters. This has been a problem for Democrats as the majority of the above demographics often make up the core of the Democratic vote. However, a 2018 Pew poll suggests that more than half of registered voters will take to the ballot box this year.

What is going to happen?

According to FiveThirtyEight’s most recent predictions, Democrats have an 81.3% chance of gaining a majority in the House, and a 25% chance of taking control of the Senate. However, the final outcome will depend on results in several key races across the country, such as those in the House in California’s 25th and 48th districts, New York’s 19th District and Texas’s 32nd District.

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