The US mid-term elections of November 2018

19-10-2018

The forthcoming mid-term elections in the United States, to be held on 6 November 2018, are likely to offer a closely watched political verdict on the first two years of Donald Trump's presidency. They will define not only the composition of the 116th US Congress, to meet from 3 January 2019 to 3 January 2021, but also the power balance both within Congress and between Congress and the President. In US mid-term elections, the entire House of Representatives and one third of the Senate are up for election. The Democratic party, currently the minority in both chambers, aims to regain control of the House of Representatives, at least, although the conditions for its winning back the Senate are less favourable. Any shift in power towards the Democrats will result in increased scrutiny and pressure on the sitting President, and might lead to detailed investigations in Congress into the performance of his Administration, and potentially to an impeachment attempt against President Trump personally. By contrast, if the Republicans succeed in retaining control of both chambers, this will consolidate the President’s power-base within his own party, create a more favourable backdrop to his intended run for re-election in 2020, and exacerbate the identity and leadership crises within the Democratic party. This Briefing provides background to the forthcoming mid-term elections, by offering an overview of how the US Congress is elected, by explaining issues such as voter registration, voting methods, the way the primaries work, election security issues and gerrymandering. It goes on to analyse the potential political implications of the mid-term election results.

The forthcoming mid-term elections in the United States, to be held on 6 November 2018, are likely to offer a closely watched political verdict on the first two years of Donald Trump's presidency. They will define not only the composition of the 116th US Congress, to meet from 3 January 2019 to 3 January 2021, but also the power balance both within Congress and between Congress and the President. In US mid-term elections, the entire House of Representatives and one third of the Senate are up for election. The Democratic party, currently the minority in both chambers, aims to regain control of the House of Representatives, at least, although the conditions for its winning back the Senate are less favourable. Any shift in power towards the Democrats will result in increased scrutiny and pressure on the sitting President, and might lead to detailed investigations in Congress into the performance of his Administration, and potentially to an impeachment attempt against President Trump personally. By contrast, if the Republicans succeed in retaining control of both chambers, this will consolidate the President’s power-base within his own party, create a more favourable backdrop to his intended run for re-election in 2020, and exacerbate the identity and leadership crises within the Democratic party. This Briefing provides background to the forthcoming mid-term elections, by offering an overview of how the US Congress is elected, by explaining issues such as voter registration, voting methods, the way the primaries work, election security issues and gerrymandering. It goes on to analyse the potential political implications of the mid-term election results.