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VOTEThis is a historic midterm election.
To better define why this election is so important, we turn to fellow journalists and media outlets. Here is what you need to know:
The November elections will see 35 of the 100 seats in the US Senate up for grabs.
US voters will also choose all 435 members of the US House of Representatives, the lower chamber of Congress.
Democrats need a net gain of 23 seats to take control of the House of Representatives from the Republicans. And they need a net gain of two seats to take a Senate majority, “although the path to get to that number is difficult”, says CNN.
Of the 35 Senate seats up for election this year, 26 are held by Democrats (including two independents allied to them) and nine by Republicans.
In total, the US Senate is made up of 51 Republican seats and 47 Democrats, plus those two independents. This means Democrats face a steeper climb in the Senate, because they must defend all 26 of their seats up for election and take two seats from Republicans in order to win a majority. Ten of the Democratic seats are in states that Trump won in the 2016 presidential election.
Why are these elections so important?
The midterm elections are being held halfway through Trump’s presidential term, and the make-up of Congress’s two chambers could affect his ability to govern.
The state legislative elections will not only be crucial for state-level policy debates but “could also determine the fate of abortion rights if the Supreme Court moves to undercut Roe v. Wade, the future of Medicaid expansion in some states, not to mention innumerable other issues like education, taxes, and labor rights”, says Vox.
The outcome of the midterms could reduce Trump’s powers or might work in his favour. Thanks to a very favourable election map, Republicans “could conceivably pick up Senate seats even if Democrats take the House. And a gain of even a seat or two would change the entire complexion of the Senate,” says Politico.
Should that occur, Republicans “might even have another shot at repealing Obamacare or shrinking the size of the federal government”, adds the news site.
What is likely to happen?
Final outcomes are difficult to predict, especially as early voting suggests turnout could be the highest it’s been in decades.
Some forecasters are predicting that turnout could end up approaching 50%, “levels not reached since the midterms between 1962-1970 – years, perhaps not coincidentally, that spanned a political turbulent era”, the Associated Press reports.
At present, New York Magazine says, “odds are good if not overwhelming that Democrats will regain control of the House and make significant state governor and state legislative gains, while Republicans will maintain control of the Senate (possibly even increasing their margin over Democrats there)”.
But the latest polls suggest that “neither Democrats nor Republicans have much reason to breathe easy”, says Vox.
The non-partisan Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman calls the House landscape “fairly stable”, with Democrats “poised to gain between 25 and 40 seats” (they need a net gain of 23 for control).
But The New York Times’s Nate Cohn believes the race for the House of Representatives remains on a knife edge.