The United States is entering the critical midterm elections on Tuesday, 8 November, with the Republicans vying for control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
When? The elections in the US take place on first Tuesday of November, unless the first Tuesday is the first day of the month, in such a case, it gets moved to the second Tuesday of the month.
Crucial for President Biden: The elections are said to be critical for many reasons, one of which is that these midterm elections will decide the course of action for the rest of US President Joe Biden’s term.
The Quint takes a look at what midterm elections are and the significance of 2022 midterm elections.
Two Houses in the US Congress
Like most parliamentary democracies, there are three branches of the US government – the legislative, theexecutive, and the judiciary. The legislative branch of the government – Congress – is comprised of the Senate and the House of Representatives, and is essential to get laws passed, and for the smooth functioning of the government.
The United States has a two-party system – the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. The midterm elections will elect representatives to both the Houses, which in turn will decide whether Democrats or Republicans have the majority in the US Congress.
The Senate has 100 members, which includes two elected members from all 50 states of the US. Along with these senate seats, the House of Representatives has 435 seats.
What Are Midterm Elections?
Not all 100 Senate members are up for re-election simultaneously. Senators serve a term of six years, and so, in the upcoming midterm elections only 34 senators are up for re-election. All of 435 House of Representatives are up for election with the winners serving two-years in the house.
Votes for one-third of the Senate seats and all House of Representatives are held every two years and when they fall in the middle of the president's two-year term, they are called midterm elections.
Another important thing about these midterm elections is that many states have their local elections for governor, secretary of state, attorney general and state legislatures. with the midterm elections and the party which wins these elections, can have a very important influence on what happens for the next two years in the US.
All Americans above the age of 18 will be eligible to vote in these elections, except those convicted of a felony.
Who Controls the Houses Now?
Currently, the Democrats have control over the Senate as well as in the House.
In the Senate, out of the 100 seats, the Democrats and the Republicans both have 50 seats. However, since Vice President Kamala Harris has the tie-breaking vote, the Democrats are still in majority.
In the House of Representatives, out of the 435 seats, 222 are controlled by Democrats and 213 are controlled by Republicans.
What Is the Significance of 2022 Midterm Elections?
These midterm elections are of extreme importance as whoever controls the house controls the lawmaking process. Currently, the Democrats have control over both the House and the Senate.
If Republicans happen to take over the House or the Senate, it will become extremely difficult for the Democrats to fulfil their agendas before 2024 presidential elections. Not just that, any Democratic legislation will struggle to pass, if at all, if Republicans win either of the two bodies in the midterms.
The New York Times reported that if Republicans happen to take over the two institutions of government, they can initiate proceedings on issues like former US President Donald Trump’s property searches, COVID-19 response as well as President Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Not just this, The New York Times also reported that many republicans have planned to impeach Biden, which could lead to him facing a trial.
What Are the Key Issues at Stake in These Midterm Elections?
The major key issues for the Americans as per a poll by The Washington Post and ABC News are the economy, abortion rights, inflation, immigration, education, climate change, and rising crime.
While the Democrats have long maintained that the rising inflation and crunching economy is a result of global events like the Ukraine war, the Republicans have been attacking the Democrats in most of their midterm election campaigns on the rate at which the inflation in the US is rising.
Since the US Supreme Court overturned the historic Roe v. Wade ruling earlier this year, the Democrats have been openly condemning it. Many states in the US will see freedom in abortion right if Democrats are elected. Biden has also said that he will ensure abortion rights across the country.
He said, “Here's the promise I make to you and the American people. The first bill I send to Congress [after winning the midterms] will be to codify Roe v Wade.”
Rising crime and gun violence is another important issues that Amreican voters are focusing on. As the US sees rising shooting crimes, the Democrats wish to bring in stricter gun control laws.
Democrats vs Republicans: What Do Opinion Polls Say?
Poll analysis website, FiveThirtyEight has reveled that the Senate is a “toss-up,” whereas, the Republicans have a chance of winning the House of Representatives.
It said that Republicans have over 80 per cent chance to win 47 to 54 seats, which means even Senate will be a close war.
Further, it predicted that Republicans have a fair chance of winning the House, saying that when the Supreme Court overturned abortion rights, Democrats were favoured more. However Republicans have managed to win people back.
Not just this, FiveThirtyEight also shows that the approval and popularity rating of Biden has decreased below 50 per cent in the past two years.
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