This year’s midterms on November 8 will be US voters’ first opportunity to render a national verdict on the presidency of Joe Biden.
In August, a key part of President Biden’s policy agenda, The Inflation Reduction Act was passed 51-50 in the Senate after Vice-President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote. But this sort of policy may become more difficult to pass should the Democrats lose control of the House of Representatives in the elections.
So, what are the midterm elections and what could be the outcome?
What are the US midterm elections?
US midterms occur halfway through a president’s four-year term. They influence how the president’s next two years will go and will affect how easy or difficult it will be to get legislation passed.
The public will vote for members of the House of Representatives, who run for re-elections every two years. All 435 seats are up for election.
Senators run for election every six years, and this year, 34 Senate seats are up for election.
Currently, the Democrats hold the house while the Senate is evenly split, though Vice President Kamala Harris has the deciding vote.
When are the US midterm elections?
The midterm elections will take place on November 8, 2022.
What could be the outcome of the midterm elections?
Historically, the sitting president’s party nearly always loses House seats in the midterms. Since the second world war the president’s party has on average lost 29 House seats in each president’s first midterm election, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. A notable exception was under George W Bush when, following the September 11 terrorist attacks, Republicans gained eight House seats in 2002.
In 2010, two years into Barack Obama’s presidency, the Democrats lost the House. Then in 2018, when Donald Trump was president, the Republicans lost the House in the midterm elections.
The Republican Party is confident the usual pattern will hold and are focusing their campaign message on border security, crime and inflation. But US politics is far from ordinary at the moment: the spectre of Donald Trump, extreme Republican candidates and a supreme court decision to overturn the constitutional right to abortion could galvanise Democratic turnout.
Democrats feel greater confidence about holding on to the Senate. They are defending just 14 Senate seats where Republicans are defending 21.
If the Democrats lose the House of Representatives in November, it will become harder for Biden’s administration to pass legislation. But if the Democrats retain control of the House, it will remain easier for Biden’s team to pass legislation for the remaining two years of his presidential term.
These elections also reflect how the US public thinks the president is doing, and the results may give the political parties a sense of how well they may fare in the next presidential election, which is set for 2024.