US President Joe Biden and former president Barack Obama attend a campaign rally for the Democratic party’s candidates in Philadelphia.—Reuters
US President Joe Biden and former president Barack Obama attend a campaign rally for the Democratic party’s candidates in Philadelphia.—Reuters

WASHINGTON: Americans vote on Tuesday to elect all 435 representatives of the House and 35 of the 100-seat Senate.

These midterm elections are held near the midpoint of a president’s four-year term in office. The results determine if the incumbent remains effective in the remaining two years of his tenure or becomes a lame-duck occupant of the White House.

The Senate race is currently seen as a toss-up, as both Republican and Demo­cratic candidates seem to have similar levels of support among voters. But recent polls indicate that Republicans may regain control of the House that they lost to Democrats in 2018.

FiveThirtyEight, an opinion polls aggregator, sees an 80 per cent chance of the Republicans occupying between 215-248 seats in the next Hou­se. FiveThirtyEight takes its name from the number of electors in the US electoral college and is considered the most reliable source of information for state and federal elections.

According to its estimates, the fate of the House lies in Iowa’s 3rd District, North Carolina’s 13th District and Colorado’s 8th District, while the three districts along the Texas-Mexico border will also be key. Within the Senate, the focus is on the Georgia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania races, with Republicans trying to take Georgia and Nevada, while Democrats are looking to take Pennsylvania.

If Democrats retain the Senate, and the House becomes Republican, it will be difficult to pass legislation over the coming two years, where any House-passed measures would likely be dead on arrival in the Senate, and vice-versa. But control over the House will give Republicans a major advantage. They can use the debt and funding limits to leverage the administration and to force the Democrats to negotiate.

The voters will also elect governors for 36 of the 50 states, 20 of which are currently occupied by republicans and 16 by Democrats. The Governor races will influence the 2024 US presidential election. Pew Research Center, Washin­gton, reported that “the economy has consistently been the top issue for voters this year.”

In Pew’s October survey, about eight-in-ten registered voters (79pc) said the economy was very important when making their decision about who to vote for. “Americans’ views of the nation’s economy have been overwhelmingly negative in recent months,” the report added. The future of democracy is also a voting issue for many, as 70pc of registered voters told Pew it’s very important to their midterm vote. Six-in-ten or more said the same about education, healthcare, energy policy and violent crime. And more than half of voters said the same about gun policy and abortion.

Three presidents — one sitting and two former — descended on Penns­ylvania this weekend for a final push for their candidates. President Joe Biden and former president Barack Obama rallied with Senate candidate John Fette­rman in Philadelphia. Former president Donald Trump rallied for Republican candidates Mehmet Oz and Doug Mastriano in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

But Mr Trump seemed largely focused on his own political future. He told the crowd in Pennsylvania that they would “in the very next very, very, very short period of time … be so happy.” He plans to announce a third Presidential run two weeks after the midterms.

However, NBC News reported on Sunday that “a spiral of violence and fear is creating angst for many voters ahead of the midterm elections”.

“Democrats worry that the (Republ­icans are) bent on seizing power regardless of the outcome of elections — a concern rooted in … Trump’s lies about the 2020 race he lost,” the report added.

“Polls show a large portion of Repub­licans fear democracy is in peril because they believe that elections are rigged against them,” the report noted.

Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2022

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