International Elections: The US Mid-Terms – Will Trump’s Republicans lose House and Senate Majority?

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The US Mid-Terms, normally of inconsequence and little interest to many of those outside the US are nearly upon us. In these Mid-Terms, all 435 Congressional seats of the House of Representatives and 35 of all 100 Senate seats are made available for candidates on both sides of the political spectrum to run for.

However, this year, these elections may prove vital in determining the presidency of Donald Trump. Mr Trump’s controversial presidency highlighted most recently by the appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, has been a constant thorn in the nation’s political debate. As America prepares itself to vote for those who decide which of the President’s policies will become law, it is unclear whether Mr Trump will cement his presidency in the event of the Republican party maintaining their house and senate majority. Mr Trump will also be wary that the Democrats, if they gain a house or senate majority, will look to indict a more thorough investigation into the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia, and his tax returns which he has yet to release to the public.

Trump & Putin | Kremlin.ru [CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The Republicans have held the house since 2010 and the Senate since 2014, amid many Americans criticising President Barack Obama’s health care reform as well as the unemployment number remaining at the level it had been at the time of Obama’s 2008 election. This made it impossible for Obama to enact reforms on gun control in the later years of his presidency. However, the Republicans, since Trump was inaugurated, have not had it all their own way. The most famous case being in their attempt to repeal Obamacare last year. In this case, the late senator from Arizona, John McCain, went against party protocol in siding with the Democrats. However, if the Republicans can sustain their majority in the house and senate at the upcoming mid-terms, they will more than likely be able to repeal the health care reforms established by the Democrats. This has been a made a top priority by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, who has compared this year’s mid-terms to:

a knife fight in an alleyway.

The race itself is certainly too close for one to make a decisive prediction. The Financial Times, in its list of polls, displays close races for seats in Indiana and Arizona both of which voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election. However, with the election of Democrat Doug Jones as Alabama senator, a state that hadn’t voted for a senator from the Democratic Party for 25 years, there is hope that the Democrats can build on that success and claim the two seats they need for an overall Senate majority. However, the Democrats may hold more hope of gaining back control in the House of Representatives, as CNN predicts that the Republican’s hold on the house may be at risk with races in Georgia and Florida, again two states that President Trump won in 2016, both seemingly too close to call.

Electoral college map for the 2016 United States presidential election | Credit: Gage [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Despite widespread condemnation from the left throughout his presidency, Mr Trump’s administration has been boosted by the domestic economic development in the US since his inauguration. At the start of the year, unemployment was almost at a 10-year-low and had halved since the global financial crash of 2008. US Stock Markets have reached record highs, with Dow Jones breaking 20,000 points shortly after Trump’s inauguration. Just a month before the mid-terms, a CNN poll had Mr Trump’s approval rating at 41%, marking a vast improvement from the 32% at the end of 2017.

However, what many critics believe will assist the Democrats is the hardened rhetoric between President Trump and the left-wing media, many of whom the President has branded as Fake News. There has also been widespread criticism from the left, from both politicians and celebrities alike, towards the Republican party that currently hold both houses. Whilst hardened right-wing voters will be more than likely to stick by their party, those who found themselves torn could be persuaded by the extremism we have seen from the right over the past year in the US.

Kim Schrier | Credit: NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0), via Flickr

Nowhere has this been more evident than in the run-up to these mid-term elections. The mailing of explosives to vocal critics of President Trump, such as his predecessor Barack Obama and Mr Trump’s Democratic opponent for President Hillary Clinton have been followed by the killing of 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. Mr Trump despite offering his condolences has been held by many as responsible for these, due to his inflammatory rhetoric against those who oppose him. Democrats say that this could indeed alienate more centrist Republicans, mainly women in Urban areas, a sentiment echoed by Washington 8th district candidate Kim Schrier.

Mr Trump, who has been reluctant to tone down his rhetoric towards the media throughout his presidency, continued to wage a one-man war against them in the aftermath of the Pittsburgh shooting. As the midterms approach and the outcome not a certainty for either Republican or Democrat, the President would be wise to encourage bipartisanship and co-operation to ensure a more relaxed political climate. His current attitude could cost his party dearly, as undecided voters head to the polls.

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