Prince Amir Al Saud

Midterm elections. What changes to be expected

Midterm elections. What changes to be expected


Midterm elections. What changes to be expected?

The elections of American midterm just concluded highlighted some significant aspects; the first, being the most expensive elections of all times, those with the highest turnout ever (not even occurred in the 2016 presidential elections). Another important data is the highest number of women ever voted. And lastly, the so called “blue wave” asbeing expectedfailed to materialize.

The data of the polls in real time have established that the Republican party triumphs in the Senate with 51 seats (+2), the Democratic party with 46 seats (-2). In the House the Democratssecure222 seats (+27) to win control, while the Republicans get 196 seats (-27).

It is the first real test for Donald Trump, who continues to collect a rather low "personal approval rate" estimated at 40%.

The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the Federal government of the United States. The legislature consists of two chambers: theHouse of Representatives and the Senate.  Congress has 535 voting members: 435 representatives and 100 senators. This electoral round concerns the 435 members of the House of Representatives and a third of the 100 members of the Senate; but also the governors of thirty-six states and three territories.

These elections end up assuming an important political dimension of judgment of the President's work, and consequently an analysis of the forecasts regarding the political choices of the next two years.

Data on turnout

In recent days, around 36 million citizens have expressed themselves in the early voting procedure. In 2014 there were 27.2 million. In the end, the shareholding should reach 45-50% of those entitled, compared to 37% in 2014, but still far from the 60% presidential threshold of 2016. Approximately 114 million votersexpressed their choices.

Former President Barack Obama and his deputy Joe Biden repeated to the last: "We are facing the most important election of our lives. The character, the moral fabric of the nation is at stake ". ThePresident's opponents record a + 9% in the popular vote.

What polls say

What immediately became clear in these elections was the great rift that divided the country, which basically gave the Democrats the victory of the House, reconquered after eight years, while the Republicans, as expected, that of the Senate. These midterm elections have maintained, indeed even accentuated, the Republican control over the Senate, renewed for a third, and returned to the Democrats the House, completely re-elected.

The best signal for the American Democrats had come not so much from the polls, but rather from the amount of money flowing into the coffers of their candidates in the form of private donations. Money coming mostly from the middle class. The Republicans failed to collect even half of their funds.

A sign of the tiredness of a country towards a shouted politics, which has its main interpreter in Trump. If these elections were a referendum on the President, they are not well out of the challenge (the Republicans' victory in the Senate was widely expected).

The general feeling is that this was a vote for or against Donald Trump, worried about the developments of the Russiagateinvestigation and the possible impeachment. "If I fall the markets will collapse," he said not long ago.

Donald Trump is now "a lame duck", a President who will necessarily have to deal with the opposition. In concrete terms, the President will still have a free hand on foreign policy and appointments, including crucial ones of the Supreme Court, whose ratification belongs to the Senate, while it will face enormous obstacles in internal politics, where the House has greater competences. A situation that opens up to many scenarios, including the possibility for Democrats to set up committees of inquiry into the Trump administration's initiatives, and to block government bills. In short, the blue wave will not overturn the politics of the White House, but will at least slow it down.

Health, migrants and weapons: government measures at risk

The House could claim its own choices on the "hottest" issues of the Trump administration's policy: the Obamacare could be saved, while funding for the wall bordering Mexico would fail. In addition, the Dreamers, the young migrants brought to the US aschildren from clandestine parents, could receive unprecedented protection. Nor is a proposal to restrict the use of arms to be excluded.

The American voters send a signal to Donald Trump, upsetting the balance of power in Congress with the victory of the Democrats in the House of Representatives. Important business, even if not completed by the - more difficult - conquest of the Senate, which remains firmly in the Republican hands, perhaps even with a few more seats than two years ago.

Only five times in the last 105 years a president in office has won seats in the Senate in the midterm elections.

Republican Paul Ryan, former president of the House of Representatives, who chose not to return to the midterm elections, congratulated the Democrats for seizing control of the branch of Congress but urged them to find common ground before a country that is divided as never before. "We do not need an election to know that we are a divided nation and now we have a divided Washington," he said in a statement. "As a country and as a government we must find a way to unite and find common ground and build the successes of this Congress".

The conquest of the democrats

The success of the Democrats in the House also seems to exceed expectations. Democrats break through the moderate districts of the metropolitan suburbs even in areas where Donald Trump had made full ground in 2016, including the Midwest states and large parts of the south.

The Democrat Ayanna Pressley enters history as the first Afro-American woman elected to the House of Representatives in Massachusetts.And there is another record, always marked by democratic women: Rashida Tlaib enters history as the first Muslim elected in Congress. The 42-year-old won the Michigan election for the House of Representatives. She was followed a few hours later by Ilhan Omar, a 39-year-old Muslim from Somali, elected in Minnesota. In the Bronxdistrict of New York, the 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the rising stars of the Democratic Party, is the youngest woman elected to Congress in American history.

Defeat or victory for the President-in-Office?

Although these elections may have led to a substantial draw, it was actually a political defeat for Donald Trump. After all, the president himself had anticipated the probable final result and this time the forecasts of the eve proved to be correct: «There will be no bloodshed». And with the polls still open he said in an interview with Sinclair Broadcasting: "I like to get along with others and I think that many things can happen now." For the White House the problem now is to understand what the attitude of the new majority in the House will be. For example, Democrats can instruct the President to hand over the tax return. Or use the intelligence commission to keep the White House tenant "under pressure". It should be remembered, however, that although the procedure for a possible impeachment can be initiated by the House, the final verdict still belongs to the Senate, where a quorum of two thirds is required. Nancy Pelosi, running to become Speaker again, assured that the "democrats will work hard to find bipartisan solutions for the good of the United States".

Reasons for a challenge

What led Donald Trump to throw himself into an apparently desperate battle, to win the midterm elections, (which even Reagan lost both times), while he nearly managed to equalize them? The fundamental reason is that the President fears impeachment. He knew he could not rule with a completely hostile Congress, having divided America like never before. He considered that an anomaly as the victory of 2016 should be consolidated, and he partially succeeded: if the House passes to the Democrats, the Senate increases the Republican advantage. Another reason, not secondary, is that Donald Trump has thrown himself into the electoral challenge because he has fun. He needs to reinvigorate the thing that most urges him in the world: his brand. He feeds on the energy of his supporters, as well as on the enemy's envy.

He spentthe last day prior to elections to insult his adversaries. The democrats are "crazy", "locos", in short, crazy. To those who pointed out onto him that a president does not speak like that, he replied: "I would like to have a softer tone; but it is not possible ". It is not his strategy, it is his nature.

In the end, however, the maximum goal, as to keeping the House, has failed. It is not a disaster, but it is certainly not the "tremendous success" claimed by the great twitter. The Democrats reconquer districts in key states, those in which Trump two years ago had built his election thanks to the workers' vote: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan.

The Republican Party has become like never before the "party of Trump": His where the themes that dominated the electoral campaign, His were the slogans, and His were even the polemics that have allowed certain candidates to score off despite theprevisions.This is exactly one of the considerations that lead to the conclusion that this vote is a sort of postponed dismissal for Trump. Throughout the election campaign, The Donald has relied on the binomial "immigration-security control" (typical the clamor on the march of migrants from Honduras) while he has strangely left the economy aside, which is giving him great satisfaction, with the continuous growth of jobs and wages, and the decline in unemployment. The employment rate among minorities (Hispanic, African American, Asian) is today at record levels. Focusing on a controversy with strong racial implications has produced some immediate results, but is a losing issue in a not-so-long perspective. In the US, the electoral weight of minorities is constantly growing. Already in 2020 the "whites" will be a minority among the Millennials, something that will progressively take place in other age classes.


The Democrats do not yet have a strong candidate for the presidential election of 2020, but they have lined up in this vote a series of young and gritty local candidates who have made the difference. (114 million votes against 83 in 2014) and, above all, the young people who had supported Obama and released the Clinton have returned to vote. When the youths go out to vote, for the Republicans it is a red alarm. After the débacle of Hillary Clinton at the presidential elections in 2016, a strong wind of change would appear in the hierarchies of the Democrats, while the Republicans have now flattened out on Trump's positions and for them much will depend on what will be the President's moves.

Even at best for the Republicans, the Democrats will now dictate the terms of the political agenda. This is what happened to Ronald Reagan after the mid-term elections in 1982 (goodbye to the Conservative Revolution promised in 1980) and to Bill Clinton in 1994 (to his health reform project). But beware: in both cases the presidents who came out with broken bones from the polls of midterm elections, ended up re-elected two years later.

Even if the President's party has historically always 'suffered' in the midterm elections, traditionally unfavorable to the White House, so much so as to be called "the punishment of presidents", as it had happened to the Democrats of Barack Obama in 2010; the results could reshape the political panorama for years, also in anticipation of the 2020 presidential campaign.

A sign that the future belongs to those who can read what is really written on the ballot papers. Who knows. But in politics you first live, then philosophize.


Article contributed by Sonia Russo  

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