On Tuesday, November 6, Americans will choose hundreds of federal lawmakers and state officials. The election is called the midterm because it comes in the middle of the president’s four-year term.
But even though the president is not competing for re-election this year, the results of the midterm will be important to him. They will decide whether his political party, the Republicans, continues to control both parts of Congress.
If the Republicans do, Congress will likely help him reach his policy goals. If the opposition Democratic Party wins a majority in Congress, those lawmakers will likely try to block the president’s goals.
It is also very possible that after November 6 the Republicans will control one part of Congress, and the Democrats another. If that happens, the two groups of lawmakers will probably oppose each other and few changes will advance.
Here are the numbers: Congress has seats for 535 voting members. One hundred are in the Senate. The rest are in the House of Representatives.
This month, voters will choose 35 senators and all 435 House members. To win a majority in the House, Democrats would need to keep all their seats and gain 24 more.
Such a gain would be large, but not impossible. Historically, the opposition party makes some gains in midterms. Eight years ago, Republicans gained more than 60 House seats in the midterm after then-President Barack Obama was elected. That election was seen as a check on Obama’s efforts to reform health care in America. This year, a gain half as big by Democrats would give them control of those House.
To win a majority in the Senate may be harder for Democrats, although Republicans have only a one-seat advantage now. The reason is because Democrats risk losing some Senate seats they currently control.
For example, ten Democratic senators are running in states that Trump won in 2016. In other words, voters there may now decide they want a lawmaker who is more like the president.
I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.
Kelly Jean Kelly wrote this story for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.