The U.S. will hold major elections on Tuesday, with results expected on Wednesday Australian time. They’re called the ‘midterms’ because they come half way through the President’s four-year term.
The entire House of Representatives is up for re-election, as well as 35 Senators and 36 state Governors.
The results will shape political issues including abortion rights, and will have implications for the 2024 Presidential race. Here’s a preview.
Where things stand
The Democrats have a majority in the House of Reps and a one-vote majority in the Senate. In theory, that should have allowed Democratic President Joe Biden to secure support for his agenda.
However, Senate rules allow votes to be blocked unless 60 of 100 Senators agree to proceed. That has helped Republicans to block votes on issues like abortion.
Complicating things further, there are two Democratic Senators who often side with Republicans on certain issues.
What’s at stake?
The focus for the Democrats is on gaining two more Senate votes. If they succeed, Biden has promised to change Senate rules and then pass a Bill to create a national right to abortion, which has already passed the House of Reps.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court reversed its 1973 ‘Roe v. Wade’ judgment which stated that abortion rights were protected by the U.S. Constitution.
Without that protection, abortion rights are now a matter for states to decide. A Federal law would override any state bans.
Polls suggest the Senate race is very close, but it looks unlikely that the Democrats will win enough seats (52) to pass abortion rights into law.
At the same time, Republicans look likely to take control of the House of Reps. If this happens, they plan to stop House of Reps investigations into the Capitol riots and instead investigate Joe Biden’s son Hunter over corruption allegations.
They have also promised to pass a national ban on abortion if they win control of both houses. This could potentially override any state that wanted to make abortion legal.
The 36 state governor races also have significant stakes, including for abortion.
State governors have a similar role to state premiers in Australia. As long as there is no Federal law or Constitutional right to an abortion, state Governors and state parliaments have the power to grant or remove abortion rights.
Polling suggests several state governor races are very close, including in Wisconsin, Oregon, and Nevada.
The results are also expected to shape the 2024 Presidential race.
On the Democrat side, the results will be seen as a judgment on Joe Biden’s performance. Biden’s approval ratings have dropped amid rising cost of living pressures. He is expected to run again, but a poor result this week could boost any challengers for the Democratic nomination.
On the Republican side, the main question is how Trump-endorsed Senate candidates will perform, especially Herschel Walker, Mehmet Oz and J.D. Vance. All three have attracted controversy. Walker has been accused of domestic abuse and paying for a partner’s abortion despite his anti-abortion views. Oz and Vance have both been associated with live animal testing.
Their success may influence Trump’s prospects of a successful Presidential bid. At the same time, possible rivals Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott are both running in Governor races and could boost their profile with strong wins.