US Midterm Elections
The United States will hold its congressional midterm elections on November 08. All 435 seats in the US House of Representatives will be up for grabs. Thirty-five Senate seats will be as well: the standard thirty-four seats in this cycle plus a special election to fill the four years remaining in the term of Senator James Inhofe – he announced to retire next January 3.
American politics has perhaps one ironclad rule: The sitting president’s party almost always loses House seats in the midterms. That is why every two years, elections are held whereby American electorate votes for all seats of the United States House of Representatives, approximately one-third of the seats in the United States Senate, and a majority of state governorships and state legislatures.
When this biennial contest does not coincide with a presidential election, it is called a “midterm election.” Such elections often receive less attention than presidential contests, but midterm elections have influenced national politics and predicted major turning points in US political history.
Since midterm elections take place halfway between presidential elections, many political scientists and pundits regard midterm elections as a referendum on the incumbent president, as these elections occur midway through the President’s four-year term.
When are they held?
Unlike state and local elections that happen every year, congressional midterm elections occur halfway through a president’s term and do not take place during general election years. For reference, the last midterm election occurred in 2018 during Donald Trump’s second year as president. There was no midterm election in 2020 as it was a general election year. As 2022 is officially the halfway point in Joe Biden’s presidency, midterm elections will be held nationwide on November 8.
They are held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November; hence, this year’s election falls on November 08.
Americans are represented in government by 535 lawmakers, known as members of Congress. Congress is made up of two chambers – the Senate and the House of Representatives. The two work together to make laws.
The Senate is the 100-strong upper chamber. Each US state – regardless of size – sends two representatives. These senators are elected for six-year terms. Every two years, a third of the Senate faces re-election.
The re-election of Senators is staggered by constitutional design, ensuring no more than one Senate seat from each state is up for a vote at the same time. This gives the Senate a sense of continuity and experience and insulates it to a degree from a wave or passion that might sweep across all races.
A senator must be at least 30, a US citizen for at least nine years, and live in the state he or she represents. There are 100 US senators, two from each state.
House of Representatives
The House of Representatives (often referred to as “the House”) has 435 members. Each one represents a particular district in their state and serves a two-year term. All seats are up for election.
A representative must be at least 25, a US citizen for at least seven years, and live in the state he or she represents. The number of representatives a state has depends on its population. Each representative serves a specific congressional district.
Winners of midterm elections are determined by popular vote, as opposed to the Electoral College system that is used to elect the president.
On the state level, there will be 36 governorships and 30 state attorney general offices on ballots this year. Of the 36 governorships, 20 of them are currently occupied by Republicans. Although these state positions might seem less important than congressional seats, winning a majority in these areas would allow Democrats to pursue liberal legislation outside of Washington, D.C. In particular, they’re vitally important to the protection of abortion rights, especially as the Supreme Court weighs the reversal of Roe v. Wade in their current term.
The political campaigns are centered on some hot issues. Legislation related to Roe v. Wade and the right to an abortion, voting rights and voter suppression, federal policy on the Ukraine-Russia War, and inflation and gas prices could all be decided by the political makeup of Congress that results from the midterm elections. And with the latest school shooting bringing gun control issues back to the spotlight, those elected to Congress could ignite new pressures on the fight over gun restrictions versus limiting the Second Amendment.
The results of these elections have big implications for individual members of Congress, whose jobs are on the line. But, more importantly, control of each chamber of Congress can shift, depending on who wins more of these individual races. Whoever controls the House or the Senate controls the agenda. The majority party determines who leads important congressional committees. A president’s ability to accomplish his agenda has everything to do with whether his party controls the two houses of Congress.
Why Republicans are the favourites?
America’s midterm elections, on November 8th, were long expected to deliver bad news for the Democrats. Routinely, at the half-way mark between presidential elections, voters give the incumbent party a beating. Yet, despite high inflation, and the low approval ratings for Joe Biden, this year could bring some cheer for the Democrats. The party has notched up some notable legislative achievements. Although they will expect to lose control of the House, their chances of holding the Senate are improving.
Republicans are feeling good heading into the 2022 midterms. It is easy to see why:
· Biden’s current average job approval rating is 42 percent. To put that in perspective, only Truman in 1946 (33 percent) and Trump in 2018 (41 percent) had a lower approval rating at the time of the midterm election.
· Democrats hold 222 seats in the House, or four more seats than are needed to hold the majority. So, Republican candidates could grossly underperform historical averages and still retake the House.
· So far thirty-one incumbent House Democrats — or roughly one out of seven — have announced they will not run for re-election. It is generally easier to win an open seat than to defeat an incumbent.
· Inflation is at a forty-year high. Nearly six in ten Americans say that inflation is causing hardships for them or someone in their household. (Republicans have already dubbed it “Bidenflation.”)
· More than 1,500 Americans a day continue to die of Covid-19.
· Americans moved toward the Republican Party in 2021. Gallup found at the start of the year that Democrats led Republicans in party identification by nine percentage points. By the end of the year, Republicans led by five points. That fourteen-point swing is among the largest Gallup has ever recorded.
The writer is a student at KEMU, Lahore.