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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

Philadelphia Eagles

Trump Cancels Philadelphia Eagles’ Visit to the White House

President Donald Trump withdrew his invitation to welcome Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles to the White House Monday evening.

Several prominent team players—including safety Malcolm Jenkins and defensive end Chris Long—had announced they would not attend the meeting as a protest against Trump.

The news comes amid controversy over players standing for the National Anthem at NFL games.

“The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow,” Trump wrote in a statement.

“They disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country. The Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation, but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better.”

The President explained fans were “still invited to the White House to be part of a different type of ceremony”.

The ceremony, Trump wrote, would honor the USA, pay tribute to the heroes who fought to protect it, and loudly and proudly play the National Anthem.

“I will be there at 3 p.m. with the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus to celebrate America,” he said.

It’s an unprecedented move by the President—the NBA champion, Golden State Warriors, declined an invitation from Trump to visit the White House after their 2017 championship win, but presidents usually honor their invitations to championship teams.

The debate centers on Long and Jenkins’ outspoken support of San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during the National Anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality.

The NFL owners adopted a new policy on May 23 that will allow players who do not wish to stand for the National Anthem to remain in the tunnel. The NFL can also fine teams whose players do not stand and “show respect” during the anthem. Trump also said players who chose not to stand “shouldn’t be in the country”.

According to several reports, fewer than 10 players were intending to attend the White House event.

Wide receiver Torrey Smith wrote in a tweet: “There are a lot of people on the team that have plenty of different views. The men and women that wanted to go should’ve been able to go.

“It’s a cowardly act to cancel the celebration because the majority of the people don’t want to see you. To make it about the anthem is foolish.”

 

Sen. Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat, said he’s skipping the White House event, and instead invited the team to take a tour of the US Capitol.

“I’m proud of what the @Eagles accomplished this year. I’m skipping this political stunt at the White House and just invited the Eagles to Congress. @Eagles How about a tour of the Capitol?” he wrote on Twitter.

 

The team’s statement, released late Monday night, did not address Trump’s action directly:

“It has been incredibly thrilling to celebrate our first Super Bowl Championship. Watching the entire Eagles community come together has been an inspiration. We are truly grateful for all the support we have received and we are looking forward to continuing our preparations for the 2018 season.”

Further reading: Former Pittsburgh Linebacker James Harrison Announces Retirement

White House

White House Supports UK Decision to Expel Russian Diplomats

The White House supports the UK government’s decision to expel Russian diplomats residing in Britain, it has said.

The UK has concluded that the Russian government is responsible for the attempted assassination of former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, 66 and his daughter Yulia Skripal, 33, using a dangerous nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury.

The statement from the White House reads:

“The United States stands in solidarity with its closest ally, the United Kingdom. The United States shares the United Kingdom’s assessment that Russia is responsible for the reckless nerve agent attack on a British citizen and his daughter, and we support the United Kingdom’s decision to expel Russian diplomats as a just response. This latest action by Russia fits into a pattern of behaviour in which Russia disregards the international rules-based order, undermines the sovereignty and security of countries worldwide, and attempts to subvert and discredit western democratic institutions and processes. The United States is working together with our allies and partners to ensure that this kind of abhorrent attack does not happen again.”

The supportive statement from the White House comes after the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, told the UN Security Council that the US stood in “absolute solidarity” with its ally, the United Kingdom. In a strong rebuttal against the Russian government on the subject, Haley said that the US shared the UK’s assessment of the events that took place.

“The United States believes that Russia is responsible for the attack on two people in the United Kingdom using a military-grade nerve agent,” Haley said.

UK prime minister Theresa May has said that the diplomats, who have been identified as “undeclared intelligence officers”, have a week to leave the country. The UK described the poison as “a weapon so horrific that it is banned in war”.

Russia vehemently denies involvement in the attempted assassination. Mrs May has said that Russia has met the accusations with “sarcasm, contempt and defiance”.

Both victims are currently in a critical but stable condition in hospital.

Video Game Violence

Trump to Host Video Game Violence Meeting

In response to the atrocious Florida school shooting that killed 17 students last month, president Donald Trump is to host a video games violence meeting on 9 March with gaming industry professionals. Trump has often voiced his opinion that violent video games were “shaping young people’s thoughts.”

White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said “As we continue to work toward creating school safety programs that protect all children, the president will be meeting with video game industry leaders and members of Congress to discuss violent video game exposure and the correlation to aggression and desensitization in children.”

Often the first to be blamed for real-life violent actions, the gaming industry has historically vehemently defended itself against such claims, saying that there is no evidence to suggest that it is true.

The Electronic Software Association (ESA) who represent the gaming industry in the United States, has said that they will be attending the video games violence meeting held by Mr Trump.

The ESA said, “The upcoming meeting at the White House will provide the opportunity to have a fact-based conversation about video game ratings, our industry’s commitment to parents, and the told we provide to make informed entertainment choices.”

CEO Strauss Zelnick, of the company that makes game favorite Grand Theft Auto, and Robert Altman, chaiman and CEO of parent company that produced Fallout will also be in attendance.

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), an industry organization responsible for content and age guidance for videogames, will also be in attendance.

The White House’s press secretary Sarah Sanders has said that violence in video games was “certainly something that should be looked at and something that we want to have the conversation about.”

The president has voiced his concerns regarding video game violence translating into reality. On Twitter in 2012, Trump tweeted: “Video game violence & glorification must be stopped.”

Further reading: Dick’s Sporting Goods to No Longer Sell Assault-style Rifles