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Alicia Keys to Host 2019 Grammy Awards

Alicia Keys to Host 2019 Grammy Awards

Having won 15 herself, Alicia Keys is no stranger at the Grammys. This year however, the singer will claim a new role, ending James Corden’s two-year stint as host of the awards show.

The announcement came via the Grammys official Twitter page on January 15, with a post that read: “IT’S OFFICIAL! 15-time GRAMMY winner @AliciaKeys will host the 61st GRAMMYs, marking her first time as master of ceremonies for Music’s Biggest Night.”

“I’m going to host the Grammys, you heard it. I know what it feels like to be on that stage,” Keys said in a video post.

“I just feel grateful that I’m able to bring that light, that energy. I’m feeling excited, I feel really good about it.

“I feel that it’s the perfect opportunity to give that light back, especially to all the young women nominated. To me it feels like sister vibes,” she added.

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Unfortunately, not all of the musician’s fans have shared her excitement.

In a video the star shared on social media, Keys can be seen revealing the big news to her two young boys, Egypt and Genesis.

Following a long silence, a confused Egypt, 8, says: “What’s the Grammys?”

Keys captioned the video: “Egy and Gen want to know what the #GRAMMYS are ???”

Last April, Keys was honored at Variety’s Power of Women event in New York, after co-launching Keep a Child Alive—a nonprofit aimed at combating HIV. Using her acceptance speech, the singer spoke out about the inequality that women face in the workplace and in the world, reiterating this message at the 2018 Grammy Awards.

“Look at all the action that’s around us: women running for office in record numbers, women banding together in the entertainment industry, women demanding an end to disparity in the music industry like equal representation on the Grammy stage,” she said.

“We were told we need to step up. Well, you feel that step up now?”

Keys will indeed be stepping up as the first female host of the show since Queen Latifah took on the role in 2005. She will be at the forefront of a year that includes a considerably larger number of female nominees.

“I’m especially excited for all the incredible women nominated this year! It’s going “UP” on February 10!”

The 2019 Grammy Awards will take place at the Staples Centre on February 10 in Los Angeles.

Further reading: Kevin Hart Steps Down As Oscars Host

Trump’s Wall: The President’s Oval Office Address

Trump’s Wall: The President’s Oval Office Address

President Donald Trump delivered his first Oval Office TV address to the nation on Tuesday night.

While previous presidential speeches from the Oval Office have been rallying moments in times of tragedy, the eight-minute address did little but reiterate ambiguous immigration claims and introduce more questions during a standoff with Congress.

It is now day 19 of the partial government shutdown—the second longest in history—with no new solutions having been offered.

Here’s what you need to know.

The wall

The US-Mexico border is 1,954miles long and already has 650miles of fencing in place through California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

The Republican President wants $5.7billion to build a steel barrier, which would deliver on his signature campaign promise—although his campaign promise included the caveat that “absolutely, Mexico is paying for the wall.”

Both Democrats and Republicans agree that more border security is needed, but Democrats—who recently took control of the House of Representatives—are opposed to giving Trump funds for the new structure. 

Fact or fear?

Trump’s dark vision of the country continued as he told primetime viewers that “vicious coyotes…ruthless gangs” and “vast quantities of illegal drugs” crossing the border are responsible for “thousands of deaths.”

“How much more American blood will be shed before Congress does its job?” he questioned.

The number of illegal border crossings has decreased—down from 1.6million in 2000 to fewer than 400,000 last year. Research actually suggests that undocumented immigrants are significantly less likely to commit crime than native-born American citizens.

Figures also make clear that only a small percentage of heroin sold in the US is smuggled through legal entry points.

“The cost of illegal drugs exceeds $500bn a year, vastly more than the $5.7bn we have requested from Congress,” Trump added.

“The wall will also be paid for indirectly by the great new trade deal we have made with Mexico.”

Fact-checkers have disputed the claim that the trade deal—a successor to Nafta—means that Mexico will pay for the wall, as the Mexican government has always refused to do so.

The Democrats 

Addressing the nation, Trump said that the federal government has remained shut “due to one reason and one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security.”

The president insisted that he had already compromised by moving from a concrete wall to a barrier made of steel slats and offered no fresh solution to the situation.

In a rare turn of events, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, were allotted time after the president’s speech to deliver a rebuttal.

The California congresswoman said: “The fact is the women and children at the border are not a security threat, they are a humanitarian challenge.

“And the fact is President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis, and must reopen the government.”

Shumer concluded: “The symbol of America should be the Statue of Liberty, not a 30-foot wall.”

The Republicans 

While most of Trump’s party is supporting him, moderate Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski from Alaska sided with Democrats in calling for an end to the government shutdown before the resolution of the border wall issue.

Susan Collins of Maine and Cory Gardner of Colorado have also issued similar appeals.

The public 

According to an opinion poll, just over half of Americans (51 percent) blame President Trump for the current government shutdown.

What next? 

With no new outcomes pending from the Oval Office address, it is unclear what’s next for the immigration and border security “crisis.”

The president chose not to threaten or declare a national emergency on Tuesday night—an option that could allow him to access military spending to fund his barrier.

However, speculations have suggested that Trump may still resort to such a declaration before the impasse comes to an end.

Congressional leaders are set to return to the White House on Wednesday for negotiations and the president will head to the southern border on Thursday to continue his work.

“Thank you for soooo many nice comments regarding my Oval Office speech. A very interesting experience!” Trump said on Twitter. 

Further reading: The Midterm Results Are In and This is What They Mean 

Highlights from the 2019 Golden Globe Awards

Highlights from the 2019 Golden Globe Awards

The 76th annual Golden Globe Awards honored the best films and television of 2018 on Sunday, January 6.

This year, your hosts were actors Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh, with Oh joining the small group of actors to win awards in the same ceremony that they hosted.

The show may have run 20 minutes over its allotted three-hour running time, but it was full of impassioned speeches, diversification and unexpected surprises.

Here are the night’s most talked-about highlights.

“I’m Sorry!”

Jokes often fall flat during opening monologues. This year however, Sandra Oh managed to stir up some responses from the audience. We’re looking at you Emma Stone.

Introducing the history-making Crazy Rich Asians, Oh called out films that whitewashed Asian roles. “[Crazy Rich Asians] is the first studio film with an Asian-American lead since Ghost in the Shell and Aloha,” she joked.

The latter saw Emma Stone play a part-Asian character and explains why she shouted, “I’m sorry!” from the audience.

Shortly after, Oh redirected her efforts to Lady Gaga, referencing the actress’ go-to-interview anecdote about there being 100 people in a room “and you just need one to believe in you and that was Bradley Cooper.”

In good spirits, Gaga responded: “It’s true!”

A Swift surprise

While many were upset that Glen Close bested A Star Is Born firm favorite Lady Gaga for best actress (film drama), The Wife star earned a standing ovation for her emotional speech.

Close paid tribute to other nominees in the category, including Gaga, Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy and Rosamund Pike, before thanking her own mother as she discussed the film’s themes of gender inequality.

The actress said: “Women, we’re nurturers, we have our children, and our partners if we’re lucky enough, but we have to find personal fulfilment, we have to follow our dreams, we have to say ‘I can do that’ and I think we should be allowed to do that.”

The only Globe A Star Is Born picked up was for best original song. In an unannounced appearance, Taylor Swift presented Gaga with the award for Shallow, the No.1 duet between Gaga and Cooper.

Host-turned-winner

The first person of Asian descent to host the Golden Globes—Sandra Oh is now also the first woman of Asian descent to win best actress (TV drama) in more than three decades, for BBC America’s spy thriller Killing Eve.

Oh’s tearful speech at the top of the show earned her even more adoration on Twitter, as she touched on the diversity of this year’s nominee pool.

“I said yes to the fear of being on this stage tonight because I wanted to be here to look out into this audience and witness this moment of change,” she said.

“Trust me, it is real. Because I see you. And I see you. All these faces of change. And now, so will everyone else.”

Thank you, Satan

This year, the Globes seemed light on politics. That was, until Christian Bale accepted his award for best actor in a comedy or musical, for political satire Vice.

“Thank you to Satan for giving me inspiration for playing this role,” he said about his character Dick Cheney.

While some found the joke tasteless, the comment earned recognition from the Church of Satan itself, which wrote on Twitter: “To us, Satan is a symbol of pride, liberty and individualism, and it serves as an external metaphorical projection of our highest personal potential. As Mr. Bale’s own talent and skill won him the award, this is fitting. Hail Christian! Hail Satan!”

50 percent women

In a popular win, Regina King accepted best supporting actress for If Beale Street Could Talk.

After expressing her admiration for fellow nominee Amy Adams, King took a bold stance on gender equality.

“I’m going to use my platform right now to say that in the next two years, everything I produce … is 50 percent women.

“And I challenge anyone that’s out there who is in a position of power, not just in our industry, all industries, I challenge you to challenge yourselves and stand with us in solidarity and do the same,” she said.

Worthy winners 

While the Globes proved to be devastating for A Star is Born, the night was a big success for Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. The film won best film (drama) and also saw Rami Malek win best actor for his role as Freddie Mercury.

Richard Madden won best performance by an actor in a television drama for his role in the Bodyguard and Patricia Arquette took home best performance as an actress in a limited series or motion picture made for television for her work on Escape at Dannemora.

The night also gave way to mixed opinions as Mahershala Ali won best performance by an actor in a supporting role motion picture for Green Book.

For a full list of winners, click here.

Further reading: “We Solved it!” Diversity at the Emmys

d-Sheeran-to-Face-Court-over-Marvin-Gaye-Plagiarism-Claim

Ed Sheeran to Face Court over Marvin Gaye Plagiarism Claim

A jury is set to decide if British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran copied Marvin Gaye’s song Let’s Get It On when he created his smash single Thinking Out Loud.

The 27 year-old’s bid to dismiss the lawsuit was rejected on Thursday, January 3 when district Judge Louis Stanton said a jury should decide Sheeran’s liability.

Judge Stanton found “substantial similarities between several of the two works’ musical elements.”

He further ruled that it was disputed whether the harmonic rhythm of Let’s Get It On was too common to deserve copyright protection.

The action was brought against Sheeran, Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Atlantic Records by the estate and heirs of late producer Ed Townsend, who co-wrote Let’s Get It On with Gaye.

The classic track hit number one in 1973 while Thinking Out Loud topped the UK single charts in 2014.

The defense has argued that the newer track was characterized by “sombre, melancholic tones, addressing long-lasting romantic love,” while Let’s Get It On was a “sexual anthem.”

However, the Judge said there were similarities in the bass lines and percussion of the two songs and stated that listeners might consider both hits as having the same “aesthetic appeal.”

Sheeran denies copying Gaye.

Not the first time 

The accusation is not the first time that Sheeran has been accused of copying other artists.

In 2017, the star settled a $20 million copyright infringement claim over his song Photograph. He was sued in 2016 by songwriters Thomas Leonard and Martin Harrington, who claimed that his hit ballad had a similar structure to their song Amazing.

Another instance in 2017 also saw the team behind TLC’s 1999 single No Scrubs given writing credits on Sheeran’s Shape of You, after comparisons were made between elements of the songs.

Judge Stanton is presiding over another lawsuit alleging Sheeran copied Let’s Get It On. Structured Asset Sales (SAS)—which owns a third of Townsend’s estate—are suing for $100 million.

They claim he copied the “melody, rhythms, harmonies, drums, bass line, backing chorus, tempo, syncopation and looping” of the song.

History repeats itself

Recently, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were ordered to pay nearly $5million to the family of Marvin Gaye.

In 2013, the Motown legend’s family claimed that Thicke and Williams’ chart-topping single Blurred Lines plagiarized Gaye’s Got to Give It Up.

The Gaye family are also entitled to 50 percent of all future song royalties.

Further reading: Space Jam 2 Is Officially Starring LeBron James

Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams to Pay $5m to Marvin Gaye

Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams to Pay $5m to Marvin Gaye

Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams have been ordered to pay nearly $5million to the family of Marvin Gaye, as a long-running legal battle comes to a close.

In 2013, the Motown legend’s family alleged that Thicke and Williams’ chart-topping single Blurred Lines plagiarized Gaye’s Got to Give It Up.

The family initially won the case in 2015, attesting that Blurred Lines had the same “feel and sound” of the 1977 hit, but the pair appealed.

In March this year, a Californian federal judge upheld the original ruling, resulting in an amended judgment and settlement to Gaye’s family.

Thicke and Williams, along with Williams’ publishing company More Water From Nazareth, owe joint damages of $2.8million. Meanwhile, Thicke has been ordered to pay an additional $1.8million and Williams, another $357,631.

The Gaye family are also entitled to 50 percent of all future song royalties. The song was said to have generated a total of £16.6million in revenue during the original trial.

The decision has sparked controversy among judges and music experts alike. Having instigated a number of similar copyright cases in recent years, the grueling battle has set a strict precedent for the music industry.

Many feel that the original verdict was mistaken, as the “feel” of a song cannot be concretely copied. Indeed, Williams testified that he only evoked the mood of Gaye’s song and did not directly plagiarize a sequence of musical phrases or lyrics.

“I was like, ‘Damn, we should make something like that, something with that groove.’ Then [Williams] started playing a little something and we literally wrote the song in about a half-hour and recorded it,” Thicke admitted in an interview with GQ.

Circuit judge Jacqueline Nguyen, also disagreed with the appeal decision.

She argued that the song “differed in melody, harmony and rhythm” and said the verdict “strikes a devastating blow to future musicians and composers everywhere”.

Two of Gaye’s children, however, called the resolution “a victory for the rights of all musicians” and their mother Jan added that it was a “wonderful recognition of Marvin’s creativity and the lasting value of one of his greatest songs”.

As a result of the case, instances have seen Taylor Swift gift Right Said Fred a writing credit on her single Look What You Made Me Do; and Ed Sheeran add the writers of TLC’s No Scrubs to his single Shape Of You. Sheeran is also accused of “copying” Marvin Gaye’s classic song Let’s Get it On with his 2014 ballad, Thinking Out Loud.

Further reading: From Cornfields to Concerts: Carlie Hanson’s Rise to Fame

Kevin Hart Steps Down As Oscars Host

Kevin Hart Steps Down As Oscars Host

Kevin Hart has announced that he will no longer be hosting the 2019 Oscars ceremony.

On Thursday night, the comedian-actor took to Twitter to issue an apology to the LGBTQ community for past “insensitive words” and to confirm he will not be a “distraction” at the Oscars.

The apology and step-down follow an outcry after homophobic comments and tweets from the Ride Along and Jumanji star resurfaced.

What happened?

On Tuesday December 4, Hart—who is currently performing in New Zealand—revealed that he would host Hollywood’s prestigious Oscars ceremony in February 2019.

“I am so happy to say that the day has finally come for me to host the Oscars,” he wrote.

“I am blown away simply because this has been a goal on my list for a long time.”

The backlash

A significant number of Hart’s tweets from between 2009 to 2011 promptly flooded the internet, in which he had used homophobic slurs and derogatory language.

In a tweet from 2011, among some that have been deleted, Hart said: “Yo if my son comes home & try’s 2 play with my daughters doll house I’m going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s gay’.”

A video from a 2010 standup special also resurfaced; where Hart delivers an entire standup routine based on the fear his three-year-old son would be gay.

This led people to criticize the Academy’s decision to make him host.

The apology

On Thursday, Hart addressed the situation by posting a video of himself to Instagram that did not feature an apology.

Instead, he said: “Our world is becoming beyond crazy, and I’m not going to let the craziness frustrate me.” The post’s caption read: “I am truly happy people … there is nothing that you can do to change that … NOTHING.”

Hours later, he posted yet another Instagram video, detailing that he had received a call from the Academy telling him to apologize or be removed as host.

“I chose to pass, I passed on the apology. The reason I chose to pass is because I’ve addressed this several times. This is not the first time this has come up, I’ve addressed this. I’m not going to continue to go back and tap into the days of old when I’ve moved on and I’m in a completely different space in my life.”

By Thursday night however, Hart had posted an apology.

“I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscars,” he wrote.

“This is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.

“I’m sorry that I hurt people. I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart. Much love and appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again.”

Among those to question the backlash is Nick Cannon, who reposted old tweets from female comics Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman, and Chelsea Handler, which all feature similar slurs.

So, who will host the Oscars now?

George HW Bush, 41st President, Dies Aged 94

George HW Bush, 41st President, Dies Aged 94

George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st president of the United States and the father of the 43rd, died over the weekend at his home in Houston, Texas. He was 94.

His body will lie in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington DC from Monday evening to Wednesday morning—a rare honor.

Hailed by many around the world as the country’s greatest one-term president, Bush saw the US through a turbulent period in global relations, including the breakup of the Soviet Union and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

An announcement from his office said: “George Herbert Walker Bush, World War Two naval aviator, Texas oil pioneer, and 41st president of the United States of America, died on 30 November 2018.

“He was 94 and is survived by his five children and their spouses, 17 grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and two siblings. He was preceded in death by his wife of 73 years, Barbara; his second child Pauline Robinson ‘Robin’ Bush; and his brothers Prescott and William or ‘Bucky’ Bush.”

His death comes less than eight months after that of his wife, Barbara Bush. The day after her funeral, he was treated for an infection that had spread to his blood.

Bush also suffered from vascular Parkinson’s disease that had forced him to use a wheelchair in recent years. In and out of hospitals since 2012, the Republican remained active well into old age despite his deteriorating health.

In 2013, while suffering from bronchitis, he told well-wishers to “put the harps back in the closet.”

Former president Barack Obama remembered Bush as “a humble servant”, and Bill Clinton described him as “honorable, gracious and decent”.

A statement by Donald Trump also praised Bush, highlighting his “sound judgment, common sense and unflappable leadership”.

Trump and his wife Melania are expected to attend a state funeral that comes after the president cancelled a planned press conference in Argentina for the G20 summit “out of respect for the Bush family.”

America’s last war hero president, Bush served one term between 1989 and 1993. Since his death, many tributes have included a curious code word—CAVU.

CNN reporter Jamie Gangel revealed that the word was used to tell Bush’s family and friends that he had died on Friday night.

“For anyone who has been a pilot, it is familiar. For those who aren’t, it stands for Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited,” Gangel said.

“He had a plaque in his office that said that. He always said that he felt it represented his life. The sky was the limit, he had had everything.

“I think it was a great and fitting tribute to him.”

Further reading: Neil deGrasse Tyson Accused of Sexual Misconduct

Neil deGrasse Tyson, Sexual Misconduct

Neil deGrasse Tyson Accused of Sexual Misconduct

Astrophysicist and author Neil deGrasse Tyson is the latest in a slew of celebrity men to be accused of sexual misconduct.

Speaking with the religious and spirituality site, patheos.com, three women—Tchiya Amet, Ashley Watson and Katelyn Allers—detailed accounts of sexual misconduct at the hands of Tyson.

Amet, who was a student at the University of Texas at the same time as Tyson, claimed that the astrophysicist drugged and raped her while the two were at college. Watson accused him of making unwanted sexual advances when she worked as his assistant, causing her to quit her job. Allers has claimed he groped her at a part in 2009.

Tyson has since refuted the very serious accusations. In a Facebook statement published on Saturday, the TV host said that he welcomes an impartial investigation into the sexual misconduct claims made against him.

Tyson wrote: “For a variety of reasons, most justified, some unjustified, men accused of sexual impropriety in today’s ‘me-too’ climate are presumed to be guilty by the court of public opinion. Emotions bypass due process, people choose sides, and the social media wars begin.

“In any claim, evidence matters. Evidence always matters. But what happens when it’s just one person’s word against another’s, and the stories don’t agree? That’s when people tend to pass judgement on who is more credible than whom. And that’s when an impartial investigation can best serve the truth—and would have my full cooperation to do so.”

He continued: “I’ve recently been publically accused of sexual misconduct. These accusations have received a fair amount of press in the past 48 hours, unaccompanied by my reactions. In many cases, it’s not the media’s fault. I declined comment on the grounds that serious accusations should not be adjudicated in the press. But clearly I cannot stay silent.”

Fox and National Geographic, the producers of Tyson’s upcoming television program Cosmos, due to premiere in 2019, have responded to the claims. In a statement, they said: “We have only just become aware of the recent allegations regarding Neil deGrasse Tyson. We take these matters very seriously and we are reviewing the recent reports.”

They added: “The credo at the heart of Cosmos is to follow the evidence wherever it leads. The producers of Cosmos can do no less in this situation. We are committed to a thorough investigation of this matter and to act accordingly as soon as it is concluded.”

These allegations of sexual misconduct come as a shock to the science community, who previously held Tyson in high esteem. The author of several popular science books including Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (2017) and Welcome to the Universe (2016), Tyson is also the first black person to hold the role of director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Further reading: Join the Fight Against Sexual Assault

The Midterm Results Are In and This is What They Mean

The Midterm Results Are In and This is What They Mean

Democrats have regained control of the House of Representatives after an eight-year one-party rule in Congress. However, in a “blue wave” that was more of a “ripple”, Republicans have tightened their grip on the Senate.

Despite losses in the lower chamber of Congress, president Donald Trump declared the midterm election a “tremendous success” as Republicans expanded their majority in the Senate, paving the way for a divided Congress.

Promoting himself on Twitter, he focused on the Senate, quoting the following from a commentator:

“There’s only been five times in the last 105 years that an incumbent president has won seats in the Senate in the off year election. Mr. Trump has magic about him. This guy has magic coming out of his ears. He is an astonishing vote getter & campaigner.”

The primary role of Congress—consisting of the House (its lower chamber) and the Senate (its upper chamber)—is to make and pass laws. A legislative proposal only becomes law once the House, the Senate and then the President, have approved it.

Consequently, that the Republicans lost the House to the Democrats could actually mean that Trump’s final two years of term have just become severely limited. Although his name was not on the ballot as a higher-than-usual number of voters elected Congress members on Tuesday November 6, the election was considered a referendum on Trump’s America.

Democrats needed to pick up 23 House seats in tallies early Wednesday, results that could enable the party to block much of Trump’s legislative agenda as well as issue investigations into his administration and business affairs. The Democrats now control the Intelligence Committee—responsible for considering potential Russian collusion in the last presidential election.

It will also be more difficult for Republicans to make changes to health legislation, including Barack Obama’s healthcare law, and could cause problems for Trump’s plans to build a border wall with Mexico. By passing laws out of the House, it will also force Republican senators to consider subjects like minimum wage.

The increased Republican majority in the Senate however, will make it easier for Trump to appoint judges and remake the judicial branch—a branch of government that interprets laws in the name of the state—into a more conservative system.

Democrats also flipped six governorships in the election, including Kansas, where Laura Kelly beat Trump ally, Kris Kobach. Two victorious Muslim Democrats—Ihan Omar (Minnesota) and Rashida Tlaib (Michigan)—made minority firsts, along with elected Democrat governor, Jared Polis (Colorado), the first openly gay man to be voted into the position.

A record year for women, at least 90 female candidates won their elections, the majority of whom were Democrats and at least 28 of whom were sent to Congress by voters for the first time. Sharice Davids (Kansas) and Deb Haaland (New Mexicao) became the first Native American women to be elected. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York) became the first woman in her 20s to win a seat, and was later joined by 29-year old Abby Finkenauer (Iowa).

House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, spoke in Washington. “Thanks to you, tomorrow will be a new day in America,” she told supporters.

Trump allegedly called Pelosi “to extend his congratulations on winning a Democratic House Majority,” her deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill tweeted.

“He acknowledged the Leader’s call for bipartisanship in her victory remarks.”

According to an exit poll survey conducted by the Associated Press, healthcare and immigration were at the top of issues expressed by voters, and 64 percent of those surveyed revealed that Trump factored into their choice when casting their ballots.

Further reading: The Midterms Explained: Everything You Need to Know

The Midterms Explained: Everything You Need to Know

The Midterms Explained: Everything You Need to Know

On Tuesday November 6, voters will receive their first chance to weigh in on Donald Trump’s presidency since he was elected in 2016. With the economy doing well but approval ratings falling short, the midterm elections could sway the control of Congress.

Still following? Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming midterms.

What are the midterms?

Midterm elections take place halfway between presidential elections, every two years. On Tuesday November 6, voters will choose new members of Congress—a term that indicates the combined body of the House of Representatives (the House) and the Senate. President Donald Trump’s party, the Republicans, currently control both houses of Congress. However, the midterms are generally considered a referendum on the current president, with the party whose president is in the White House often struggling to secure a net gain.

Who is being elected?

All 435 members of the House are up for election, as well as one-third of the Senate, with members of the Senate serving staggered six-year terms.

36 state governors (similar to a local president) will also be elected, along with dozens of local legislative officials.

The most important question: Can the Democratic Party win control of the House? 

This year, the Democrats believe that they can win control of the House by winning a majority of the seats. In order to do this, they will need to claim at least 23 seats from the Republicans; a feat that many experts believe to be possible.

On average, the party with a president in the White House has lost 32 seats in the House and two in the Senate in every midterm election since the American Civil War. President Trump has also received low approval ratings, a figure that is currently at around 42 percent. On the other hand, generic ballot polling shows the Democrats up by around eight percentage points.

Furthermore, this year, a record number of more than 30 Republicans have retired or resigned for a variety of reasons, with sexual harassment accusations and feelings towards the president among those cited. With representation in the House relatively proportionate to population, and voters usually reluctant to eject sitting representatives, this creates an opportunity for the Democrats to claim seats. Florida and Pennsylvania are two such key swing states where the incumbent will not be standing again.

In the last 50 years, the Democrats have only made a net gain of 23+ seats twice, in 1974 and in 2006. Similarly, the same period of time has seen the Republicans score a net gain of this size three times, most recently in the 2010 midterms during Barack Obama’s first term.

The low voting turnout for midterms (around 40 percent of Americans) has also tended to help the Republican Party, as those who do vote tend to be white and belong to an older generation. However, the “pink wave” of female candidates running for election is hoped to encourage more female voters and increase women’s representation in Congress.

The Senate

35 of 100 seats are up for election in the Senate, with 51 seats needed for control. Republicans have a strong advantage over the Democrats here because the Democratic Party is defending 26 seats, while the Republican Party is only defending nine.

The Senate electoral system also means that each state gets two senators, regardless of how large the population is. These smaller states tend to be more rural and, in the past, rural areas have favored the Republicans.

What does this all mean for president Trump?

With control of Congress comes the advantage of passing or blocking legislative agendas.

If the Democrats win control of one or both of the houses, they’ll be able to limit the final two years of President Trump’s term. For example, they’d be able to block his future Supreme Court picks and investigate issues such as the president’s business dealings or the allegations of sexual assault made against him.

If the Republicans hold control of Congress, President Trump’s key agendas and promises could be revived. The president was only able to sign his overhaul of the US tax system into law because Republicans held majorities in both houses of Congress.

The word impeachment has also been following discussions around the midterms. Impeachment does not necessarily lead to a removal of office—the formal statement of charges against the president has only been presented twice. Both Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were acquitted after a trial in the Senate, and Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached in the 70s.

With the Democrats in control of Congress, calls for president Trump’s impeachment are likely to increase. However, Republican senators would need to turn on the president, as a two-thirds majority is needed to remove him from office.

Nevertheless, with a Democrat majority in Congress, the party would have a better chance of defeating Trump in the next presidential election in 2020.

What happens next?

The results of the midterms could shape the nation for years to come. A “blue wave” of Democrat majority in both the House and the Senate would be able to block President Trump’s future plans.

After the midterms, thoughts will turn to the 2020 presidential election. Worth mentioning here is the fact that 26 of the 36 state governors being elected on Tuesday are Republican. With governors playing a large role in supporting their party’s candidates, securing new governors could have a major effect on presidential campaigning.

Further reading: Taylor Swift Speaks up about Political Opinion