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The US midterm elections 101

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In about a weeks time fifty million Americans will go to the polls in one of the most anticipated and important elections since the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, the midterm election. Midterm elections take place every midway through a presidents term where seats in both the House of Representatives and the Senate are up for grabs. Why are these elections so important you may ask. Well to understand the significance of the midterm elections, one must first understand the structure of the US political system in the way power is distributed. The US system of government is broken up into three separate branches of government, the executive who is the president, the judicial which is where the Supreme Court lies and the legislative which is comprised of both Congress and the Senate. Currently, the Republicans dominate two of the branches of government with Trump as the Republican president in the executive branch and the Republican Party with a majority in both Congress and the Senate.

So where does the power lie? The House or the Senate?

Credit: gettyimages

Despite the House of Representatives having the power to begin articles do impeachment, to debate revenue bills, i.e. budgets and vote for war the Senate has a number of advantages regarding its store and power. The Senate has the sole power to oversee the trial of impeachment, to approve appointments of the president’s cabinet, members of the supreme and federal courts and agencies such as the FBI. Unlike the House, the Senate is the home of filibustering or stalling. This is where senators who disagree with a proposed bill will stall the vote of a bill by taking advantage of the unlimited speaking time allocated to the Senate in comparison to the House where each member is allowed to speak for one hour max. The Senate also has the power to either approve or disapprove treaties made by the executive branch and make amendments to such treaties

Who will win? The republicans or the democrats?

That’s difficult to say; there are 435 seats to fight for in the house of representatives (Congress). Therefore it’s anyone’s game. However, polls have suggested a that the Democrats will see the most significant win and take back control of Congress. The website, FiveThirtyEight states that given the current political climate, i.e. Trumpism, The Democrats have an 86.3% chance of taking back control of the house. Currently, the Democrats have 195 seats while the Republicans hold a majority of 240. Therefore, a majority of 218 seats in needed by the Democrats to take control of the house.

However, Republicans are set to keep control of the Senate. This is due to the senates electoral cycle. Senators are elected for a six-year set term. Therefore, Senate elections are scattered. As a result, there are only thirty-three Senate seats to fight for with strong republican and democratic candidates in each state. However, polls suggest that the Republicans can sleep easy as they have a 78.9% chance of maintaining their majority in the Senate. However, that being said we shouldn’t put all our eggs in one basket with opinion polls. Remember the 2015 UK elections where the conservatives won an overwhelming majority when the polls said they would be wiped out. Oh, and let’s not forget the 2016 US presidential election.

It hasn’t been a great year for the Republican party regarding social policy. As a result of the Trump presidency we have seen severer and unethical immigration controls with children being physically separated from their parents at the border, tax cuts for the wealthy, and the loss of health insurance for many Americans and not to mention Trumps pulling out of the Paris climate accord later last year stating that climate change was myth. Also, Republicans have been blamed for voter suppression by introducing stricter voting ID laws and centre opening times which limits how and when certain people such as students can vote.

So what if the Democrats win the house but not the Senate?

It is likely that the Democrats will win a majority in the house. With this, they will be able to stomp down on Trump’s policies such as health care, education and tax reforms and the infamous wall. They will be able to begin articles of impeachment (if necessary). However, it will be passed onto the Senate for investigation where a two-thirds majority is needed and with the Republicans holding on tight to the Senate impeachment looks unlikely. However, one can argue that it is better than a non-contested free flow of Republican legislation passing through both houses as it currently stands.

Trump?

Many have argued that this the midterm elections will act as the ultimate opinion poll on Trump since his election. I agree, if the Republicans receive a blow in both houses, it will act as a wakeup call for trump. Therefore, it will force Trump to work more along partisan lines when it comes to proposing legislation. However, that’s easier said than done to a man like Trump. Therefore we may be in danger of another government shutdown if Trump isn’t willing to adjust his mindset and share his toys upon the event of a Democrat-controlled House. A Republican win will certainly no doubt elevate Trump’s ego and we’ll never hear the end of that….thankfully its only 745 days until the next presidential election…however, we might not have to wait that long…

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