House, Senate, governors… The partial guide

From our correspondent in the United States,

Every Monday is “Midterm Exam Monday” at 20 minutes. On November 8, 160 million Americans are called to the polls, two years after Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump, in a country more divided than ever. Mid-term elections at the national, congressional and local levels, with positions of governors and secretaries of state crucial for the next presidential election. Follow the guide.

The Chamber: Full renewal, Republicans in a position of strength

The rules are simple: the 435 seats are renewed every two years, with a majority of 218. Historically, it is almost always a sanction vote for the White House tenant. In 19 midterm elections since the postwar period, the incumbent president’s party has lost seats in 17 polls. Sometimes it’s even a big slap in the face, like Obama’s in 2010, with a drop of 63 seats.

According to the different models, Republicans have a two out of three chance of being a majority. Joe Biden is a historically unpopular president, with 42% satisfaction, a score close to Trump’s in 2018. Runaway inflation remains the top concern for households. And this is the first vote since the 2020 census, with redistricting (“gerrymandering”) favorable to Republicans, who control more local legislatures than Democrats.

Republicans only need a 5-seat gain to win. However, a surprise is not ruled out: the Supreme Court decision, which struck down the national guarantee of abortion rights (Roe v. Wade), seems to have galvanized the Democrats, and Joe Biden’s approval rating has risen five points in two months after a series of legislative successes. Everything must be played in twenty tight duels.

The Senate: A third stake, the favorite Democrats

There, the math gets complicated. The 100 senators are elected for six-year terms, with a third of the seats renewed every two years. This year, it is therefore the promotion chosen in 2016, in the wake of Donald Trump. Twenty-two of the 36 seats up for grabs are currently held by Republicans, who therefore have the most to lose.

Above all, during the primaries, voters chose “MAGA” candidates supported by Donald Trump. All right, they seem to have a hard time raising funds and seducing independents, these centrists who make up 40% of the electorate. Because to be elected it is necessary to seduce the population of an entire State, and not of a simple electorate cut to size as in the Chamber.

Against this risky strategy, the Democrats can count on strong incumbents and moderate candidates. Modeled on the site FiveThirtyEight, they have a two-in-three chance of keeping their slim majority (currently 50 out of 100), and could even win an extra seat or two.

Governors and Secretaries of State: Key positions for 2024

On November 8, 36 of the 50 states elect their governors and 27 their secretary of state. Two key positions in the organization of the presidential elections, and especially in the verification and certification of the results. After the 2020 battle and failed lobbying by Donald Trump, Republican voters chose conspiratorial candidates in three crucial battles: Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Some have publicly stated that they would not have validated the results two years ago. Most states also host local legislative elections, and it is these elected officials who will be responsible for validating voter lists for the 2024 presidential election.

Referendums: Access to Abortion and Legalization of Cannabis

Voters can vote on November 8 on initiatives that have gathered enough petitioners. In some cases, a state constitution can be amended by referendum. This year, California, Vermont and Michigan are proposing to protect abortion rights, while Montana and Kentucky must decide on restrictions. Five states could join the 19 that have already legalized the recreational use of cannabis (Maryland, Missouri, Arkansas, North and South Dakota), and Colorado could decriminalize the possession of hallucinogenic mushrooms. And if slavery was abolished at the federal level in 1865, five states (Alabama, Louisiana, Oregon, Tennessee and Vermont) could finally symbolically ban any form of servitude.

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