Midterm elections differ from the annual state and local elections. The congressional elections do not take place during general election years, with the last one being held in 2018 whilst Donald Trump was serving his second year in the presidential office. This critical and democratic event happens halfway through a President’s five-year term.
The year 2022 marks the official midpoint of Joe Biden’s presidency. They are scheduled for November 8 2022. Midterm elections are often characterised by low voter turnout compared to general elections. These midterms are considered a vital part of United States governance. There are numerous reasons why midterm elections are important. Many citizens often flock to participate in the results of the presidential elections; however, electing members of Congress can directly impact the political climate in the U.S.
What is Congress?
The basics of U.S. governance rely on the three arms of government. Congress is one of those, and it is made up of two chambers. These chambers are composed of members representing their districts in the House of Representatives and the Senate. When formed collectively, these members work together to craft and implement the legislation that governs the country. Passing laws requires the approval of the House and the Senate. These chambers propose a bill and vote on it before it becomes law. Every state in the U.S. selects representatives to join these two groups.
To qualify for candidacy in the House of Representatives, you must be at least 25 years. It is also required that you be a citizen of the U.S. for at least seven years. Another essential requirement is the candidate should have residency in the state they seek to represent. Every representative of the House can only serve a term of two years unless they are reelected.
You must be at least 30 years old to pursue a seat in the Senate. It is also necessary that you have been a U.S. citizen for over nine years. You cannot run for Senate if you are not a citizen of your state. A senator can serve a six-year term; however, 33% of the Senate must face an election once every two years. This rule was introduced as a requirement to prevent a stale Senate. Regular elections help to ensure there is an accurate reflection of the country’s political state. A senator can serve a maximum of two terms in their lifetime.
What happens during Midterm Elections?
Midterm elections are held to determine state representation in Congress. When these elections occur, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives are freshly contested. The Senate must also submit a third of their seats for contention. A popular vote decides midterm election results. This factor makes the citizens a key pillar in electing these representatives. It differs significantly from the presidential elections, which are determined by the electoral college system.
During midterm elections, 34 seats are available for contention to serve in the Senate. The current political standings show the Democrats hold 48 while the Republicans hold 50 seats. This election has 14 Democrat seats up for reelection, which means that to acquire an absolute majority, the party will have to avoid losing any seats and win three more. There are currently only two Independent Senators in Congress.
The state representative offices to be filled during this election include governorships and state attorney general positions. The voters need to elect 36 governors and 30 state attorney generals. Currently, the Republican party holds 20 governor positions. The voters often perceive these state positions to be of little relevance when compared to congressional seats; however, a majority in these offices would empower the Democrats to achieve liberal legislation without Washington, D.C’s approval. These votes have a direct impact on the protection of abortion rights, which have come under scrutiny due to the potential reversal of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court.
Why are Midterm Elections important?
Midterm elections are used as a means to distribute power in Congress. The U.S. Constitution states that Congress is a legislative body. It is granted supreme authority to craft and pass laws. When a law is crafted, it is known as a bill. It is only considered a law when the House and the Senate approve it. Whether to pass these laws often falls to the political party with the majority in both chambers. These parties often vote based on party lines meaning they are more likely to have their legislation passed. The midterms are essential because these bills often impact a lot of people. Such important bills cover data privacy or voting rights.
Midterm elections are vital to democracy as they give the citizens power to alter the dynamics of congressional power. To attain a political majority in the Senate, a party must win fifty-one seats. This figure would give a political party control over the Senate. To achieve a political majority in the House of Representatives, 218 seats must be won. Congress is currently deliberating over 11,831 bills and resolutions. The 117th Congress saw over 309 bills and joint solutions become laws. The majority of these were passed through a Democratic majority in Congress.
How do Midterm Elections affect the Presidency?
The two chambers of Congress ensure sufficient checks and balances in the U.S. governance system. It is considered the cornerstone of democracy as it prevents one arm of government from becoming too powerful. Significant political power can lead to a less representative state. Congress is key to supporting the bills and legislations that come from the president’s office. Having a diverse portfolio of members in Congress helps provide a counterbalance. If the majority in Congress backs the president, the laws he suggests are passed with little resistance. Midterm elections are, therefore, key to future collective governance.