Q&A: US midterm elections 2010

With US midterm elections on November 2, both Democrats and Republicans are trying to rally voter support.

    Voters are unhappy with the economy as campaign spending hits record high for the US midterms [GALLO/GETTY] 

    What are US midterm elections?

    Midterm elections are the general elections in the United States that are held midway through the four-year presidential term. 

    Every two years, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives are contested and around
    one-third of the 100 members of the Senate are up for election at any one time. Both the House and the Senate make the Congress, the legislative branch of the US government.

    Thirty-six Senate seats will be contested as well as 37 state governorship elections, also called gubernatorial elections.

    Why are midterms important for Democrats?

    For Democrats, what is important is whether President Obama will retain enough support in Congress to accomplish his legislative agenda in the last two years of his term or not.  Losing a large number of seats in either chamber would make it tougher for any further Democratic sponsored legislation to pass, such as immigration reform and climate change legislation, both of which are main items Obama promised to tackle. 

    Why are midterms important for Republicans?

    For Republicans, this election will help shape their Party ahead of the 2012 Presidential campaign. 

    The Tea Party represents both a blessing and a disaster for them.  If insurgent Tea Party candidates running as Republicans do well, they could define the next generation Republican party. But inexperienced Tea Party candidates could also lose potential Republican seats in places where mainstream candidates may have won.

    Moreover, if Republicans gain enough seats, they have promised to try to repeal health care reform and the economic stimulus plan.

    What does history suggest?

    Historically, the party in power has lost seats in the midterm elections. 

    Currently the Democratic party, led by President Barack Obama, holds majorities in both the House and Senate. But widespread anger with Washington over high unemployment, and the growing deficit could translate into a defeat for the Democratic party on November 02--the election day.

    What do the polls show?

    A Reuters-Ipsos poll has found that the voters are unhappy with high unemployment.

    The poll showed 48 per cent of likely voters saying they will choose a Republican candidate at the midterm elections, while 44 per cent said they will pick a Democrat.

    The poll numbers mean that Republicans are projected to take the House but Democrats are likely to retain control of the Senate with a slimmer majority than they currently hold.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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