Why you should care about the US midterms: Join our Q&A with US experts and a top Republican aide

Ben Riley-Smith
President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Minuteman Aviation Hangar in Missoula, Mont., Thursday Oct. 18, 2018. - FR128134 AP

It is now just a few weeks until the US midterm elections - a major date in the American political calendar. 

The result will shape the course of Donald Trump's presidency, reveal the mood of the country and give an insight into the long road towards the 2020 presidential vote. 

First, the fundamentals. The heart of the race, and the element which will have most direct impact on the White House, is the seats up for grabs in the US Congress. Some 35 of the 100 US senators are up for re-election, while all 435 of the seats in the House of Representatives are being contested. 

Republicans currently hold majorities in both chambers. If the Democrats take control of either chamber, it makes life more difficult for Mr Trump, as he needs votes in both to pass any legislation. 

Republicans have the best chance of holding - or even increasing - their majority in the Senate, which stands at 51 seats to 49. This is because far more Democrats than Republicans are facing re-election, meaning they have to hold all their seats and take two from the Republicans to win back control - a hard ask. 

The House is much more in play for the Democrats. They need to win 23 extra seats from the Republicans to take the majority. 

There are a host of other fascinating races too, for governors and state legislatures, which will indicate how the president and his agenda is going down outside of Washington DC. 

Among some of the unknowns: Will Mr Trump's base turn out to vote? Is the president a help or hindrance in the campaign? And how consequential will it be if the Democrats take back one or both bodies of Congress?

Join us from 1-2pm BST on Tuesday 23 October as a panel of experts answer these questions and more.

Panel:

  • Ben Riley-Smith, chairperson, US Editor, The Telegraph
  • Tim Stanley, leader writer, The Telegraph
  • Michael Ricci, Director of Communications for Paul Ryan, the most senior Republican in the House of Representatives

  • Larry Sabato, Robert Kent Gooch Professor of Politics, University of Virginia

  • Meena Bose, executive dean for Public Policy and Public Service Programs, Hofstra University

Leave a question for the panel ahead of time by posting it in the comment section below, or join live on October 23rd at 1pm BST. To join the conversation, log in to your Telegraph account or register for free, here.