An infographic showing the number of seats in the two houses of Congress

What’s at Stake in the U.S. Midterm Elections?

Posted by Speakeasy News > Tuesday 25 October 2022 > In the News

The midterm elections will take place in the U.S. on 8 November. What are these elections held half-way through a presidential term, and what is at stake this year?

The midterms are held two years into the 4-year presidential term. They can, and in fact often do, change the course of the Presidency. There are elections for Congress (all of the House of Representatives and a third of the Senate), but also many state governors (36 out of 50 this year), state legislatures and other elections are held at the same time.

Historically, the President’s party tends to lose Congressional seats at the midterms. (It’s happened in all but four elections in the last 150 years.) If that means the party loses a majority in one or both Houses, it can result in a “lame duck” presidency for the remaining two years of the term: the President struggles to get any of his planned legislation passed and at most can veto legislation proposed by the opposing party that does pass.

President Biden’s Democratic Party currently has a small majority in the House of Representatives and a majority of just one (Vice-President Kamala Harris’s casting vote) in the Senate.

Earlier in the year, forecasts for the election were very pessimistic for the Democrats. But as November approaches, many forecasters think the Democrats are doing better than expected, and the Republicans worse. The Democrats managed to push through quite a lot of popular legislation over the summer: action reducing student loan debt, the Reconciliation Act with measures on health care and climate change, and a gun-control bill.

Perhaps more importantly, the Supreme Court Dobbs Ruling, overturning Roe vs. Wade, is expected to motivate voters to turn out to the polls, and to vote for Democratic candidates who have pledged to try to safeguard women’s reproductive rights.

Voters associate the Republican Party with the Dobbs Ruling, since it was Supreme Court Justices named by Donald Trump who swung the court against Roe vs Wade. The former President has been busy making speeches and endorsing candidates in both the Congressional elections and those for Governor in 36 states, and for Secretary of State in many states, a key figure in election validation.

His endorsed candidates have won primaries in a majority of cases, but are generally politically inexperienced. Election observers think they might push moderate voters towards Democratic candidates. However, forecasts have been notoriously unreliable in recent U.S. elections, and particularly concerning Donald Trump.

Don't miss our A2+ downloadable resource on anti-gun activitist Maxwell Alejandro Frost, who is trying to be elected to Congress at just 25.

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