On November 6, Americans renewed one-third of the Senate and the entire House of Representatives. They will also elect governors and local parliaments. In addition to the battle between the Republican and Democratic parties, these elections are a referendum on Donald Trump’s presidency. These are the keys to understanding why these are crucial elections.
The United States is the focus of the world’s attention. In the midst of the polarization that the country is experiencing, the mid-term elections define whether the Republican Party retains its narrow majority in Congress or whether the Democrats manage to control either of the two chambers. This will determine how much margin of governance President Donald Trump will have in the next two years.
There is much at stake in these elections. If the Democrats gain control of the House of Representatives, today in the hands of the Republicans, they will have the power to initiate impeachment proceedings against Trump in cases such as Russiagate. They could also limit the legislative agenda in Congress, blocking Trump’s flagship projects.
This is the ABC on the elections that determine the political future of the country.
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The November 6 votes are known as ‘midterm’ because they are held in the middle of the presidential term. The US Congress is bicameral. On the one hand, the Senate elects 33 seats plus 2 vacancies due to the resignation of their incumbents in Minnesota and Mississippi, that is, 35 out of 100 seats. On the other hand, the House of Representatives has 435 members and in these elections will be elected in its entirety.
“The U.S. Constitution establishes that the entire House, all 435 seats, are renewed every two years. In addition, it establishes that the Senate must also be elected every two years and that the term of senators is six years.
Also, 36 states will vote for governors and local parliaments will be elected throughout the country.
Control of the Capitol is currently dominated by the Republicans (ruling party), both in the Senate and in the House. The Legislative branch is in charge of implementing or stopping the projects that the President or the parties want to develop. It is also the branch that exercises political control over the head of state and has the power to actively investigate him. Hence the importance of his party maintaining hegemony. The question that opens up is what possible scenarios may arise if they do not.
In these elections, Trump is playing the possibility of implementing some of his most questioned policies on migration (such as the border wall with Mexico), on health (repealing ‘Obamacare’), and on the economy (making more tax cuts to companies), for example. If, on the other hand, the Democrats regain control of either of the two chambers, a legislative blockade and impeachment would be the eventual scenarios that would await Trump. They could also veto appointments made by the president in the judicial branch and key government positions.
But if it is still thought that the Democrats can conquer the Senate and the House in a pendulum swing, as happened with Obama and now “as a punishment for Trump’s excesses (…) that scenario is no longer so clear. With the division created by the election of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court that pendulum seems to have stopped,” noted Muni Jensen, senior advisor to Albright Stonebridge and co-author of ‘Trump, the Triumph of the Showman’.
Everything seemed to indicate no, but “the Kavanaugh scandal revived Republicans and maybe definitive in the results of the midterm. Incredibly, it ended up favoring them,” the expert pointed out.
That is why in these elections “there is a lot at stake since it will determine whether the US has a political system with checks and balances or not,” explained Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue.