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US midterm elections 2 weeks away, could determine shift of power in Congress

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ATLANTA, GEORGIA - OCTOBER 22: A voting sign is seen outside early voting locations in Fulton County, Atlanta, Georgia, United States on October 22, 2022. (Nathan Posner-AA)
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Oct 25, 2022 - 09:50 AM

HOUSTON, US (AA) – American voters will decide whether the US Congress will stay in control of Democrats or if Republicans will shake up the political landscape during the country’s midterm elections on Nov. 8.

All 435 seats in the US House of Representatives are up for grabs because House members are elected to two-year terms.

Rice University political scientist Mark Jones told Anadolu Agency that most House elections are usually predetermined in their respective districts by both political parties, with Republicans and Democrats focusing on 30 or 40 seats which will likely determine the majority.

Democrats currently hold a slight edge in the House with 220 Democratic members versus 212 Republican members. Three vacant seats will also be filled during the midterms.

“There is a high probability that the Republicans will take the House, and that’s important because the majority calls the shots,” explained Jones. “Having control of the House gives you control over the agenda and the rules, what comes out of committees and what legislation actually gets to the floor.”

Historically, the party of the president loses congressional seats in the midterms, so President Joe Biden’s Democrats face an uphill battle to hold onto the House majority as voters head to the polls in two weeks.

“Everything that happens in the House is determined by the majority,” Jones continued. “The minority can complain, grandstand, and delay procedures, but they are rendered with no power. The majority in the House will be able to run the show completely, whether it’s a 218 or 220 narrow majority or a substantial 240 majority.”

Thirty-five of the 100 US Senate seats are up for election during the 2022 midterms: 12 Democratic-held seats and 23 Republican-held seats.

Democrats and Republicans are split 50-50 in the Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tiebreaker (51st) vote in favor of Democrats.

That means Democrats must win 12 seats during the midterms to maintain control of the Senate.

“There are four Senate seats that will determine the majority in the Senate — Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which are both currently Republican, and Georgia and Nevada, which are both Democrat,” said Jones.

Fierce battle

In Pennsylvania, progressive Democrat John Fetterman is in a fierce battle with his Republican opponent and former television celebrity Mehmet Oz, better known as “Dr. Oz” from The Oprah Winfrey Show fame.

The last two presidential elections in the Keystone State were each decided by barely 1%, and it will come as no surprise if Pennsylvania’s Senate race goes down to the wire as well.

Wisconsin is another sharply divided state where incumbent Republican Senator Ron Johnson announced his retirement after finishing up his term but flipped and changed his mind at the 11th hour, saying “the country is in too much peril.”

Johnson, who voted against certifying Biden’s 2020 election victory and downplayed the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riots, is faced with a polar opposite extreme liberal Democrat opponent in challenger Mandela Barnes.

Democrats made Wisconsin their biggest target before Johnson did his turnabout for reelection, so expect another hotly contested race that may end up with a razor-thin margin of victory for either party.

The race in Nevada is also being called a “toss-up” by political strategists.

Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto became the first US Latina senator in 2016 but has lost ground with her Democratic base over the past several years over the issues of abortion and immigration.

Republicans are countering with Donald Trump supporter Adam Laxalt, who backed the ex-president’s unfounded claims that the 2020 election was stolen.

In Georgia, the showdown is between two African American candidates who have become lightning rods for their respective parties.

Incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock, also a Baptist preacher, became the state’s first-ever Black senator two years ago in large part due to African American voters turning out in huge numbers.

Trickier race

Republicans also tapped a Black candidate for the 2022 midterm elections with former American football legend Herschel Walker, a close friend of Trump.

If voting comes down to the wire, as is expected, that could postpone the results of which party holds the Senate majority.

“Georgia’s Senate race is a little trickier,” explained Jones. “If neither candidate gets more than 50% of the vote (which is a possibility because there is a third-party Libertarian candidate), both will head to a runoff (on Dec. 6) before that Senate seat is determined, which will postpone the determination of the majority rule briefly.”

“In order for Republicans to gain the majority in the Senate, they would have to win three of the four of those races,” added Jones. “Likewise, Democrats need to hold on to their two seats and win at least one of the other states to take over the majority without a tiebreaker vote.”

If Republicans gain control of one or both houses of Congress, they have also pledged to pursue hostile investigations into the Biden administration, or even seek impeachment of Biden or other top members of his team.

“If Congress is in Republican hands, they could launch impeachment proceedings against Biden or conduct hearings to determine if he’s mentally fit to serve as president,” said Jones. “So even just winning the House would be a major victory for Republicans because the House has the power to do all of those things — that’s where it starts.”

However, Jones said no amount of political predictions can guarantee victory or defeat for either party.

“The Biden administration can counter those expectations if Democrats maintain control of both the House and Senate,” added Jones. “Biden can shrug off those problems if he maintains the majority, and he can govern more effectively during his final two years in office.”

US voters have a vast array of issues to consider as they head to the polls on Nov. 8.

The biggest and most impactful ones include inflation, gas prices, abortion, gun control, immigration, and border patrol, as well as crime and public safety.

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