Who will control the Senate and the House?

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Sophie-Hélène Lebeuf (access the author's page)

The vote of November 3, which in fact is already well under way, seems to be, for many Americans, a referendum election on Donald Trump, even where his name will not appear. With, in the foreground, its management of a pandemic that has killed nearly 230,000 people and whose number of cases is close to 9 million.

Fewer and fewer voters vote for one party's presidential candidate and those from another party in congressional races, explains the director of Center on American Politics from the University of Denver, Colo., Seth Masket. The phenomenon has been observed for several decades, he specifies, however predicting that it will be even more marked this year.

A prognosis shared by Andra Gillespie, associate professor of political science at Emory University, in Georgia. That's saying a lot, considering how polarized American politics have become., she specifies.

This tendency to vote loyalty, she believes, will be even more accentuated among voters who have a strong opinion on the decision of elected Republicans, especially those of the Senate, to stand up or not to the president.

The election is a referendum on Trump because the party matters.

Andra Gillespie, political scientist from Emory University

We will have to see if Democrats are so upset that they are showing up in record numbers to propel Democratic candidates to the Senate, in part because they blame Republicans for not holding the Trump administration to account enough., she adds.

Stuck behind President Trump through thick and thin, especially throughout the saga of the impeachment process, Republicans will soon know if their strategy over the past four years was the right one.

In 2018, the mid-term elections allowed their formation, already in the majority in the Senate, to gain ground, but the Democrats had managed to reconquer the House of Representatives.

Based on the polls, President Trump's drop in voting intentions appears to be pulling Republican candidates down in both Houses.

Fatal link for Republican senators?

From the promptly dispatched impeachment trial to the equally swift appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court to the appointment of over 200 justices to federal courts, the past few years have illustrated the importance of a Senate of the same color as the White House.

With an economy to tackle, a pandemic to deal with, and racial tensions, the high stakes make Senate oversight all the more crucial.

In 2018, the fierce battle surrounding the appointment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court had helped propel some Republicans into crucial states, securing them a majority of six seats.

But Republicans face a headwind this year. Disadvantaged this year by the electoral cycle, which involves one-third of the Senate every two years, Republicans represent 23 of the states in play compared to 12 for Democrats.

Unlucky coincidence, the Republicans defend twice as many seats during an election year when their standard bearer in the White House is unpopular: 12 of the 14 most intense struggles take place in the states they represent.

<q data-attributes = "{" lang ": {" value ":" fr "," label ":" Français "}," value ": {" html ":" There are some seats we expected they are competitive: those of Susan Collins in Maine, of Martha McSally in Arizona or of Cory Gardner in Colorado, for example. But we would not have thought that Georgia, South Carolina, Kansas and Montana would be too "," text ":" There are seats that we expected to be competitive: those of Susan Collins in Maine, Martha McSally in Arizona or Cory Gardner in Colorado, for example. But we wouldn't have thought that Georgia, South Carolina, Kansas and Montana would be too "}}" lang = "en”>There are seats that were expected to be competitive: those of Susan Collins in Maine, Martha McSally in Arizona or Cory Gardner in Colorado, for example. But we wouldn't have thought that Georgia, South Carolina, Kansas and Montana would be too, points out Andra Gillespie.

The Senate majority holds on to three or four seats, but there are far more than three or four hotly contested Republican seats.

Seth Masket, University of Denver political scientist

<q data-attributes = "{" lang ": {" value ":" fr "," label ":" Français "}," value ": {" html ":" The political environment is far from ideal for them –and that's a euphemism "," text ":" The political environment is far from ideal for them – and that's an understatement "}}" lang = "en”>The political environment is far from ideal for them – to put it mildly, judge Andra Gillespie.

Several of the elected Republican who drew the wrath of the president are no longer in politics, recalls Seth Masket. The majority of Republicans believe better for them to stay in the good graces of Donald Trump rather than to alienate the president and his supporters.

But many of them have to contend with the fact that they have linked up with him in states where he is not very popular., he adds.

The challenge is also great for centrist Susan Collins, who has kept her distance from President Trump, but insufficiently in the eyes of many voters in a state that has shunned her party's presidential candidates for years. .

To the point where the Republican who has always been easily reelected – the last time, in 2014, she even edged her Democratic opponent by 37 points – is playing her political survival.

Ironically, even Lindsey Graham, who has become one of Donald Trump's staunchest supporters, finds himself in trouble in South Carolina, a state where the president's victory is assured and where he himself usually achieves margins of over 10. points.

Photo montage of Lindsey Graham, looking to the right, chin resting on both index fingers, and Jaime Harrison, holding a microphone

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and his Democratic rival, Jaime Harrison.

Photo: Getty Images / Tom Williams and Reuters / Joshua Roberts

But several supporters of the president are wary of the conversion of the one who once bragged about his bipartisan approach and disparaged Donald Trump during the race for the Republican nomination in 2016.

His Democratic rival, Jaime Harrison, is in the right place at the right time to challenge an elected official who has a complicated relationship with voters in his state, said Andra Gillespie. That he's a hair's breadth away from beating Lindsey Graham is remarkable, and it shouldn't be happening in South Carolina, she says.

Hopes for Democrats in the Senate

The two women look at the moderator of the debate to their right.

Among the most crucial struggles is the fight between Democratic candidate Sara Gideon (left) and outgoing Republican Senator from Maine, Susan Collins.

Photo: Associated Press / Brianna Soukup

To become a majority, Democrats will need to increase their representation by four seats – or three if they win the presidency, since the vice president has a leading role in the event of a tie.

In return, Republicans can lose a maximum of three seats if Donald Trump secures a second term in the White House and two if voters show him the door.

Delighted in 2017 by a Democrat under exceptional circumstances, Alabama is seen as the state most likely to change from all parties.

But the potential gains are more plentiful among Democrats, who hope to benefit from population diversification in southern states.

According to forecaster FiveThirtyEight, they are overwhelmingly favored to retain Michigan and add Colorado and Arizona to the earnings column.

The site, whose model is based on simulations from polls, estimates the probability of a Democratic victory in the Senate at 77%.

The Cook Political Report analysis site forecasts for its part a net gain of two to six seats, which could, however, place them below the 51-seat bar.

In all likelihood, control of the Senate could be split in North Carolina, Maine and Iowa, states where the polls are in the Democrats' advantage, but where nothing is played.

Andra Gillespie argues that a strong turnout in favor of Joe Biden could benefit Democratic candidates.

Vulnerable Republicans try to distract from national politics, Seth Masket says. In Colorado, he illustrates, Cory Gardner talks about his accomplishments in the Senate for the State and tries to steer clear of discussions around Donald Trump. When you hear his Democratic opponent John Hickenlooper, national politics takes up almost all the space. He talks about the economy and the coronavirus.

Since a vulnerable incumbent Republican senator can survive, voters should not think about national politics when they go to vote.

Seth Masket, University of Denver political scientist

It’s very difficult to do in this environment, especially when national politics take up so much space and President Trump is pulling it all together, he says.

Donations are also flowing from across the country to finance the races of Democrats likely to capture Republican seats, for the benefit of Mark Kelly, in Arizona, or Sara Gideon in, Maine, who financially crush their opponents.

In South Carolina, Jaime Harrison raised $ 57 million in the third quarter, shattering the previous 2018 record by nearly $ 20 million. His Republican rival has even repeatedly pleaded with Fox News viewers for help.

Even the scandals don't seem to shake Democratic backers: John Hickenlooper was recently singled out for ethics concerns when he was governor, and in North Carolina Cal Cunningham had to admit a month ago that he had sent erotic texts to a woman other than his.

Strong advantage of Democrats for the House

Seth Masket does not anticipate an upheaval in the makeup of the House, but believes in modest Democratic gains.

When people are asked whether they would prefer control of the House to go to Democrats or Republicans, the answer points strongly to Democrats, he says. It is often a reliable predictor. According to FiveThirtyEight, Democrats have an 8 percentage point lead in this regard.

They currently have around 30 more seats than their opponents.

Several Republicans have decided to leave the ship: one of them, who became a libertarian after pleading for the impeachment of Donald Trump, decided not to stand again, like 26 of his former colleagues. That's three times more than Democrats.

A situation likely to give an additional boost to Democrats, since outgoing elected officials usually enjoy an advantage at the polls.

Several of those Republicans were in districts that were hotly contested during the midterm elections or have become so this year., emphasizes Andra Gillespie.

If 2018 has been described as the election year of the suburbs, they are also expected to be important in 2020.

A suburban neighborhood in California

A suburban neighborhood in California

Photo: Getty Images / David McNew

And the decline in Donald Trump's support in districts on the outskirts of large cities, for example on the outskirts of Detroit, Atlanta or Phoenix, could harm the candidates of his training.

It's sort of a continuation of what we saw two years ago in suburban districts that were once Republican and started to change.

Andra Gillespie, political scientist from Emory University

<q data-attributes = "{" lang ": {" value ":" fr "," label ":" Français "}," value ": {" html ":" These districts have voters –especially women, especially white women with higher education– who have been put off by the Trump administration and who may be sensitive to the advocacy of Democrats on health care, but also of people of diversity who have migrated to these districts, explains Andra Gillespie. This makes them more competitive than they used to be. "," Text ":" These districts have voters – especially women, especially white women with higher education – who have been turned off by the administration. Trump and who may be sensitive to the advocacy of Democrats on health care, but also of people of diversity who have migrated to these districts, says Andra Gillespie. This makes them more competitive than they were before. "}}" Lang = "en”>These districts have voters – especially women, especially white women with higher education – who have been turned off by the Trump administration and who may be sensitive to Democrats' advocacy on health care, but also people from of the diversity that migrated to these districts, explains Andra Gillespie. This makes them more competitive than they were before.

From California to Alaska to Michigan and Ohio, the tightest struggles are emerging in 60 districts in 29 states, according to Cook Political Report. Two Republican districts are also already in the column of probable Democratic victories.

The polls are encouraging for Democrats, who are favored to maintain their majority. According to FiveThirtyEight, the probability of a Democratic victory is 98%, the highest of the three government bodies at stake.

Two years after a blue wave that allowed them to snatch 40 seats from Republicans, they could even make gains, according to forecasting sites.

The Cook Political Report site favors a scenario that oscillates between the status quo and a net gain of 10 seats. The newspaper specializing in American politics Roll Call for its part brandishes an even better prospect for them, with a projection of 10 to 20 seats.

Read also :

  • Here are the 13 states where control of the US Senate will be played out
  • Which key states will make Trump or Biden the president of the United States?


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