In the recently concluded US midterm elections, Donald Trump was not formally on the ballot, but he lost. Stated another way, democracy was on the ballot, and it won. America averted a looming disaster. Why are the midterm elections so important? The entire House of Representatives, consisting of 435 seats, was up for election. America elects its lower house for only two years. Also at stake were 35 seats of the US Senate (out of 100), 36 state governor’s races (out of 50), 85 per cent of state legislative seats (nearly 6,300 in all), key state-level executive positions, and mayoral contests in many cities. Presidential candidates are obviously not on the ballot in midterms. Otherwise, midterm elections are a huge political exercise, having significant implications for policy and politics. The US has also developed a highly unusual midterm tradition. It revels in something not possible in parliamentary systems, as in the UK, Canada or India. There, the party running the executive is also in control of the legislature, at least the lower house. In presidential systems, a split between the executive and legislature is possible. Indeed, the US President’s party generally loses seats in the US Congress in the midterms, which can lead to a loss of majority in the House of Representatives and/or the Senate. Since 1934, only two presidents, Franklin D Roosevelt (1934) and George W Bush (2002), saw their parties gain seats in both houses. Some of the recent reverses are also noteworthy. Bill Clinton won the presidency in 1992, but Democrats lost the majority in both houses in 1994, as did George Bush in 2006. Barack Obama won handsomely in 2008, but Democrats lost control of the House in 2010. After Donald Trump’s 2016 Presidential win, Republicans lost 41 seats in 2018 and also their majority in the House. This year was expected to be no different. But results have significantly broken from the tradition.
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Following write-ups have been included:
- How the midterms diminished the Republican Party? (Published in The Economist on November 12, 2022)
- Why Donald Trump’s return to the presidency can’t be ruled out? (Published in The Indian Express on November 18, 2022)
- US Midterms: A defeat For Trumpism by Ashutosh Varshney (Published in the Indian Express on November 14, 2022)
- The Midterm Elections & U.S. Foreign Policy by Chris Tuttle (Published in the Council on Foreign Relations on November 9, 2022)
- The Republicans Lose with Trump by Michael R. Strain. (Published in Project Syndicate on November 11, 2022)
- Making Sense of Midterm America by Richard Haass (Published in Project Syndicate on November 10, 2022)
- Trump, the loser, is Back by Marwan Bishara (Published in Al Jazeera Newspaper on November 16, 2022)