Midterms: What’s at Stake

What is at stake?

At stake in every US Midterm Election, including on November 8, 2022, is the majority in both Chambers of Congress: the House of Representatives (100% up for election) and the Senate (34 out of 100 up for election). In the US system: i) there are only two dominant Political Parties: Republicans and Democrats, ii) the majority Party controls everything in a Chamber, iii) any legislation has to be passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate and signed by the President, meaning if the opposing Party holds one of the Chambers, they can block any legislation.

Both Political Parties fight tooth and nail for the majority in each Chamber.

Midterm elections will also decide 36 Governors’ races, state congresses in most states and many other executive and judicial state offices.

One of the rare rules in US politics is that the President’s Party loses Midterm elections, especially if the President’s approval rating is low (Biden’s is in the low 40%’s); applying this rule, Democrats should lose their razor-thin majorities in both the House and the Senate and many state elections should favor Republicans. Most polls confirm this historical trend by predicting Republicans will gain control of the House. In the Senate, earlier polls forecast Democrats would retain their majority, particularly after the Supreme Court decision eliminating the right to abortion, but as voters are increasingly concerned with inflation and the economy, there appears to be a last-minute shift in favor of Republicans. Most polls say control of the Senate is too close to call.

If Republicans take control of the House, as is almost certain, we can confidently predict that the next two years will see Congressional gridlock, no major new legislation will be enacted, the House will aggressively attack Biden, his program, probably launch investigations against his son to weaken him before the 2024 Presidential election and otherwise seek to block any Democrat’s policy initiatives. If Republicans also take control of the Senate, Biden will have difficulty getting appointments approved, particularly for any moderate judges (the Senate alone approves executive appointments).

What else is at stake in this election?

  • Midterms participation is lower than in Presidential elections, in an evenly divided country, which Party will best mobilizes its electorate, what will be the impact of new Republican inspired voting laws?
  • More than half of Republican candidates are election deniers, accepting the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. How many will be elected? What will be their impact in the new Congress and in the Presidential election of 2024?
  • Senate majority will be decided by 4-7 very close races, will the losers accept the result? Will their followers resort to violence?
  • In a number of Senate races, Trump has backed candidates considered weak, giving Democrats a chance to hold the Senate. Will Midterm results strengthen or weaken Trump’s current iron-like grip on the Republican Party?
  • What will be the major issues mobilizing voters: inflation, the economy, abortion, voting rights, the threat to American institutions and democracy?
  • Will a stronger Republican presence in Congress lead to less US commitment to supporting Ukraine?
  • Will Midterm Election see the rise of new leaders in the two Parties?
  • What will be the evolution of the relative weight of Republicans and Democrats in the country, especially in key contested states?
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