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The Complete Guide to Midterms: What’s At Stake?

Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi

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Whether you are interested in politics or not, you may have noticed that in the last few months many people in suits and with many promises have been on television, campaign events everywhere, TV ads hounding you, and even heated discussions at family gatherings. All these symptoms of an important election that will happen next November 8, the midterms.

These are elections that routinely take place in the middle of the presidential term (hence the name) and in which citizens vote for all members of the House of Representatives, plus one-third of the Senate and, in this case, 36 governors. They are usually seen as a referendum on the president’s performance, in which his party traditionally comes out with fewer seats, so their results are relevant, not only to redefine the power structure in Washington DC but also for 2024.

Congress, the mother of all battles

Currently, the Democratic Party controls the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives, which gives them privileged power. While President Biden’s seat is secure until January 2025, the majority in Congress may have an expiration date approaching.

Control is essential for those in power, as it will allow them more or less room to advance their agenda. In turn, having control of both chambers, as Biden has now, allows him to pass spending bills and control parliamentary committees and investigations.

Currently, the Democrats hold all the power in Washington DC: Joe Biden occupies the Oval Office while Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi lead both houses of Congress (Source: EFE).

However, hours before the beginning of the elections, the situation of both legislative bodies is very different.

The Senate, composed of 100 members, two from each state, is perfectly divided in half, with 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats. However, the latter party has an additional vote because Vice President Kamala Harris has the power to break the tie.

Although the electoral map for 2022 is not the most favorable for the GOP, in recent weeks its candidates have experienced a real boom in the polls, reactivating the much-speculated “red wave”. The fate of the Senate will be defined in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and New Hampshire, currently Democrat seats, and Pennsylvania, currently Republican. Today, Republicans lead the polls in 3 of these races, which would be enough to claim the majority.

As for the House of Representatives, it seems sure that Republicans will be in the majority after the elections and the only thing that remains to be known is the final difference in seats. Of course, we will have to be patient and wait for the votes to be counted.

According to polls, the Republican Party would claim the majority in the House of Representatives, while uncertainty reigns in the Senate (Source: EFE).

As every two years, all of its 435 seats will be up for grabs this Tuesday the 8th. It is currently controlled by the Democrats, 222 to 213, so with a gain of 5 seats, the Republicans would have a majority. Most projections indicate an additional 25 to 35 seats for the Republican Party.

In short, if the Republicans win at least one House of Congress, President Biden’s agenda will be quite compromised going forward and he will be forced to moderate if he wants to pass any major legislation.

The importance of the Senate

Although both Houses are important, whoever controls the Senate has the power to head its committees and approve, for example, judges and cabinet members nominated by the president.

In addition, the Upper House is in charge of approving the nomination of Supreme Court justices. In other words, if the Republicans regain control and there is another vacancy on the highest court, another Merrick Garland case – in which the Republicans waited until after the presidential election to fill a vacancy on the Court – seems more than likely.

After almost two years in the minority, Mitch McConnell wants to be the Senate Majority Leader again (Source: EFE).

Governors: The birth of political stars?

On November 8, 36 states will elect their respective governors. Although its implications are more local, its importance for the future is enormous. Beyond gloating as the party that accumulates the most governorships in the country, these elections may be the springboard for future presidential candidates.

For example, had Ron DeSantis fallen to Andrew Gillum in 2018, which he very nearly did, his status as the GOP’s “next star” would not exist today. Closer in time is the case of Glenn Youngkin, who, after prevailing in Virginia by attracting both Trump supporters and independents, many places among the top vice presidential candidates in 2024.

In this case, Kari Lake in Arizona, Josh Shapiro in Pennsylvania, and Joe Lombardo in Nevada could catapult themselves into the roster of future presidential hopefuls in both parties.

Donald Trump was the GOP “kingmaker” in these “midterms” 2022 and now his candidates will have to face the general elections (Source: EFE).

Stacey Abrams and Beto O’Rourke are in a very different situation. A new defeat on their backs would probably put an end to their high aspirations.

Donald Trump’s influence on the GOP

Within the Republican Party, and particularly in this election, candidates went out of their way for Donald Trump’s official endorsement. At least in the primaries, he defined many important races such as Senate races in Pennsylvania, Arizona, North Carolina, Georgia, and Nevada, among others.

Already with the role of “kingmaker” within the party, the former president will now have to demonstrate the success of his candidates in the general elections, something essential with 2024 closer than it seems.

Joaquín Núñez es licenciado en comunicación periodística por la Universidad Católica Argentina. Se especializa en el escenario internacional y en la política nacional norteamericana. Confeso hincha de Racing Club de Avellaneda. Contacto: [email protected] // Joaquín Núñez has a degree in journalistic communication from the Universidad Católica Argentina. He specializes in the international scene and national American politics. Confessed fan of Racing Club of Avellaneda. Contact: [email protected]

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