Explained | Will the US midterm elections be a game-changer?

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Halfway between the presidential elections, who has the advantage between the Democrats and the Republicans? What will be its impact on the House of Representatives and the Senate? Aside from inflation and the high cost of living, what are the main issues?

Halfway between the presidential elections, who has the advantage between the Democrats and the Republicans? What will be its impact on the House of Representatives and the Senate? Aside from inflation and the high cost of living, what are the main issues?

The story so far: The midterm elections in the United States, scheduled for November 8, could potentially reshape the landscape of national politics in the country, especially if they lead to the shift in control of the House of Representatives from Democrat to Republican.

Will elections be held for both the House of Representatives and the Senate?

The election will see each of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 – just over a third – of the 100 seats in the Senate up for grabs. A series of local elections will also be on the cards, including 39 state, gubernatorial and similar contests.

A key factor to bear in mind when analyzing the results – expected within a day of the vote – is that a major redistricting exercise was carried out following the 2020 census, which involved reshuffling the electoral boundaries by state authorities, notwithstanding allegations of gerrymandering that have arisen, in some cases involving a deliberate attempt to dilute majorities in some constituencies that do not favor the ruling party.

What is the background to the elections?

The midterm elections pose high stakes for Democrats who have so far enjoyed overwhelming control over Congress and the White House – projections suggest there is a risk they could lose their majority in the election. Bedroom. A relevant fact in this context is that the House switched to the party that did not control the White House after the midterm elections under each of the three former presidents – Donald Trump, Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Most pollsters agree that midterm elections usually serve as a referendum on a sitting president. However, the advantage the Republican Party held in many races was somewhat blunted by the Supreme Court’s decision against the constitutional right to abortion as enshrined in the Roe vs. Wade in the hopes that the decision could mobilize Democratic voters in every U.S. state, leading to much higher turnouts on Election Day. It is unclear in which direction the Senate, whose partisan balance is on a razor’s edge – 50 seats held by each of the two main parties and their allies – will lean after the election. Besides the redistricting, a second major factor likely to impact the election outcome is how voters will view the congressional investigation into the Jan. 6 riots and assault on Capitol buildings by suspected supporters of Mr. Trump, and the seizure of classified documents from his mansion in Mar-a-Lago, Florida. Regardless of which side of the fence they stand on, voters’ views on these developments will also indicate just how strongly the phenomenon of “Trumpism” still commands support among Americans.

What will be the outlook for economic policy after the medium term?

Whichever party achieves electoral gains on November 8 will not change the fact that, like the rest of the world, the United States faces difficult times economically, the lingering aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 still holding back business activity. , and global supply chain disruptions caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are upending the outlook for US industry and triggering inflationary trends in the economy.

In fact, polls suggest that the economic worries facing ordinary Americans far exceed traditional concerns about crime, immigration, climate change and even reproductive rights. This is partly reflected in the fact that although unemployment has fallen sharply in recent months, the economy is beleaguered by a spike in inflation which has driven up the cost of household basics such as food and electricity. energy dramatically.

Mr. Biden has mostly polled poorly across the country for his performance in office in recent months. Now, he will not only have to fight these complex political challenges head-on, but the results of the midterm elections are likely to exacerbate the deadlock in Washington if the House returns to the Republican Party. In this scenario, the White House may be forced to make additional compromises on its agenda and strike deals with the opposition that could dilute its original policy vision for the economy.

What other policy issues will affect the outcome in the medium term?

Other key issues that will affect voters’ choices and may subsequently manifest themselves in policy changes include the United States’ political stance on Ukraine, the justice system criminal justice, the quality of American democracy and the continuation of partisan conflict.

On Ukraine, while the United States under Mr. Biden has firmly allied itself in Europe and elsewhere to help Kyiv repel Russian territorial aggression, there are Republicans, like Kevin McCarthy, who oppose this that the US Congress write “a blank cheque”. to Ukraine”.

When it comes to judicial appointments, Mr. Biden has already managed to appoint at least 75 justices, far more than either Mr. Trump or Mr. Obama had at this point in their presidential term – but this progress for Democrats could stop if the House goes to Republicans, who could then block all White House nominations until “moderate” candidates are proposed.

Finally, if Republicans take over the House, it could not only expose many Trump-backed candidates who deny the validity of the 2020 presidential election result, but it would also open the floodgates to a relentless barrage of investigations into the conduct of the Biden White House by the lower house.

This could well lead to a heightened sense of acrimony in Congress, fueling unease over political deadlocks.

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