US mid-term polls: Will the president's party follow trend of losing votes?

  • 31 Oct 2018

Historically, midterm elections have always weakened the party that holds the presidency. Democrats will try to flip both chambers of Congress in their favour to block Trump's controversial policies on healthcare, migrants and the border wall.

People cast their ballots ahead of the Tuesday, November 6, general election at Jim Miller Park, Saturday, October 27, 2018, in Marietta, Georgia. ( AP )

The United States will hold midterms elections on November 6, with the results being hotly anticipated not only in the US but across the world. 

Voters will elect all 435 members of the US House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the United States Congress, with 35 seats from the Senate up for grabs.

The Democrats hope to win a majority in the House and the Senate in the coming midterms.

The opposition party needs to flip 23 seats from the Republicans to take over the majority of the House, they have currently 194 seats against 241 Republican-held seats.

The longstanding tradition of the US midterms, since 1862, shows losing seats for the party that holds the presidency, with average losses of about 32 seats in the House and at least two seats in the Senate.

In US history, there are only two exceptions where the incumbent president increased his party’s seats in both the House and the Senate.

Franklin D Roosevelt, in the midst of the Great Depression, gained nine seats in the House and 10 seats in the Senate in the 1934 midterms. In 2002, George W Bush increase eight seats in the House and two for the Senate for his party right after 9/11.

According to political scientist Marcus H Johnson, it is incorrect to presume that an incumbent president will increase his votes in the midterms if he successfully implements his agenda in the first two years of his term.

Despite implementing the New Deal program, Franklin D Roosevelt lost 71 seats in the House and six in the Senate in the 1938 midterms. 

The Democrats, during Barack Obama's tenure, also lost power in the US Congress in spite of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. 

One of the main reasons the party that holds the presidency loses power is related with political parties and their bases. 

For example, Johnson said, the president's party is less interested with the midterms due to the enduring feeling of victory from the previous election.

In the midterms, the turnout is lower than in the presidential elections due to the decreased motivation of voters. The supporters of the president's party feel that there is no need for a high turnout.

The midterm elections are carried out in more partisan circumstances than others with older voters tending to vote at a higher rate.

Generally, the president cannot keep all of his promises during the presidential election campaign. This also has the effect of decreasing seats of the incumbent president’s party in the Congress.

The opposition is energised to end the status quo in midterms, according to Johnson. Moreover, their concentration increases proportionally as the president’s implementation of his campaign. 

According to historical norms of decreasing seats for the president’s party in the midterms, the first 100 days phenomena is critical for the chief executive of the US. 

According to the phenomena, the president should imply his policies immediately due to losing his control over time, especially after the midterms. 

Democrats is on the rise

The Democrats have a big chance to win power in the House because of several policies of Trump’s presidency. 

Latinos, the second fastest growing group of the US population after Asians, can have a big impact on the midterm elections in some states.

Trump, who campaigned against illegal immigration to win the 2016 US presidential vote, may weaken his party in the coming election. 

The US government’s inaction on Hurricane Maria, which caused nearly 3,000 deaths in Puerto Rico, will likely prompt vast numbers of Puerto Ricans to vote against the Republicans. 

As many as 2,300 children were separated from their migrant parents from the time the administration adopted the “zero-tolerance”policy. Hispanic citizens of the US may also impact the midterms in Texas, a border state. 

Trump's pick for the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, has been accused of committing sexual misconduct decades ago by Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez. 

He has denied sexually assaulting anyone and said he would not be stepping aside.

Protesters opposing Kavanaugh's confirmation held rallies in Washington, New York, Philadelphia and elsewhere. These protests also created an anger among women against Trump that may affect the midterm results.

Protesters at the Women's March gather in front of the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, September 24, 2018 after a second allegation of sexual misconduct emerged against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a development that threatened to derail his nomination to the Supreme Court, forced the White House and Senate Republicans onto the defensive and fueled calls from Democrats to postpone further action on his confirmation.(AP)

In order to avoid "midterm falloff,” the Democrats are trying to fire up their electorates, especially younger voters, females, minorities and people with lower-income,  who oppose Trump’s policies. 

Democrats are determined to be more aggressive on the investigation, by Robert Mueller, of Russian meddling in the US presidential election in 2016. Losing one or two chambers in the Congress will also harm Trump’s 2020 candidacy. 

Across the country, people are seething. After a vitriolic 2016 presidential election, anger continues to dominate public discourse, from raucous protests with huge crowds to incensed social media debates that tear families and friendships apart. 

That anger will drive voters to the polls in next month’s elections – and greater rage among Democratic voters could give the party’s candidates a boost, according to polling data by Reuters/Ipsos. 

The poll, which gathered emotional responses from more than 21,000 people over two months, found Democrats are most angry about the Trump administration's now abandoned practice of separating undocumented immigrant families at the US-Mexican border, the potential for Russian interference in future US elections and the Republican president himself. 

Republicans are most angry about the potential for Congress to try to remove Trump through impeachment, undocumented immigrants coming into the country and the mainstream news media.

In 2014, turnout in the midterm elections was around 36 percent of registered voters.

According to a forecast by, the Democrats' odds to win power in the House are six out of seven while the chances for the continuity of Republican power in the Senate are five out of six. 

In the predicted circumstances, the Republicans will maintain their majority in the Senate, Democrats will flip the House by and the cabinet will be powerless for the next two years.

The last poll shows, Trump’s administration will weaken in the midterm elections like other governing parties have before.