US Midterm elections 2018: What are they, and what to expect

World Today

Desteny Martinez, 18, votes for the first time, in the U.S. congressional and gubernatorial midterm elections in Norwalk, California, United States, October 24, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

The United States holds midterm elections every four years. Because they are held in the middle of a president’s term, midterms are often viewed as a referendum on the sitting administration’s politics and policies.

Historically, this has been bad for the party that holds the White House.

In elections going back to 1862, there were only four years where the party in power gained seats in the House of Representatives, and 15 years where the party in power gained or held their seats in the Senate.

At stake in these midterms are all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, one-third of seats in the Senate, and several state and local positions.

If Democrats win control of the House and Senate in the midterms, they could slow or stop the repeal of Obama-era health care programs, slow some of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, slow or reverse Trump’s push against environmental regulations, and push for social programs that have come under threat by Trump’s White House.

One U.S. phenomenon that effects all elections is gerrymandering, which is how state officials have been able to draw boundaries for voting districts in order to give one political party an advantage.

Every decade after the U.S. Census is performed, communities will redraw their voting districts based on changes in the population. This act of redistricting is often where gerrymandering takes place.

Often districts are redrawn in such a way that it doesn’t fairly represent the party affiliations of a particular district.

This political cartoon was drawn in 1812 to represent the drawing of the district that resembled a salamander.

In fact the origins of the word gerrymandering come from Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry, who in 1812 created a district to favor his party that his critics said resembled a salamander.

Despite these concerns, the 2018 midterms are already ushering in change.

There are a record number of women running for office with 23 women on ballots for the U.S. Senate, and 237 running for the U.S. House of Representatives, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

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