Midterm elections: Will Democrats really take the house and how could they do it?

Democrats are generally thought to have a good shot at taking back the House, but their path to control of the Senate is much more difficult

Clark Mindock
New York
Wednesday 07 November 2018 01:46 GMT
US Midterms 2018: The five big questions

As the ballots begin to be counted in the 2018 midterm elections, voters have had the chance to send a message to President Donald Trump and the Republican leadership that currently controls both chambers of Congress.

Last-minute polling says Democrats have a good chance to retake the House of Representatives — an outcome that would severely damage Mr Trump’s prospects of pushing through any major legislative victories in the last two years of his first term.

It could also put the president in very real danger of facing impeachment proceedings if Democrats take over, too.

Here is how Democrats’ chances of flipping control of Congress are looking.

Can Democrats win control of the House?

Democrats see gaining control of the House has a major target in the midterms.

They would need to gain 24 seats across the country on top of their current holdings in order to reach the 218 majority threshold they need.

There is precedent, too. Republicans took more than 24 seats to regain control of the House in 2010, in President Barack Obama’s first midterms. Democrats, on the other hand, pulled in 31 seats in the 2006 midterm elections — regaining control of the House during President George W Bush’s second term.

Are there good signs for Democrats?

There are. While American voters tend to leave incumbents in place historically, some 39 Republican House members have decided not to run for re-election this year. Many of those representatives are anti-Trump, and have left races open across the US.

Democrats are also ahead in generic congressional vote tallies, which can indicate overall feeling towards the parties across the country. Democrats are up by 7.3 points in an average of those polls compiled by Real Clear Politics.

Where might we look for potentially important House races?

Of those 39 Republican seats being vacated, a good number of them are in key states that helped Mr Trump to his Electoral College victory in 2016. That includes races in Florida — a state that is viewed as something of a bellweather for American electoral politics — as well as in Pennsylvania, which surprised many in the US by breaking for Mr Trump.

There have also been indicators that Mr Trump is facing waning support in some parts of the Midwest, where he has generally enjoyed strong support.

What about the Senate?

Democrats have a much harder path towards regaining control of the Senate, even though Republicans control that legislative body by just a single vote.

That’s because, of the 35 seats up for re-election this year in the Senate, the majority of seats are held by Democrats currently. There are a lot more opportunities for Democrats to lose seats, in other words.

That said, there are some good signs for Democrats on the Senate electoral map in 2018. Two races to replace Republicans are in states where the incumbent is not running for re-election — and those two are Arizona and Nevada. And, those seats are both in states that were narrowly won by Republicans the last time the Senate seats were up for voter consideration, in 2012.

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