What Do the US Mid-Term Elections Mean?

Barack Obama

The most expensive Congressional elections the United States has ever seen have come to an end, with more than $4 billion spent.

As expected, after the Republicans took the majority in the House of Representatives in 2010, they have now gained the six seats they needed in order to take the Senate.

Votes are still being counted, and Louisiana is the first to announce a run-off race, as the state requires a candidate to get a 50 plus one majority to win the race. However, despite the final result not yet announced, it is clear that the GOP (Grand Old Party) have taken the Senate, and further strengthened their hold on the House of Representatives.

Nevertheless, it is difficult to see how different the policy-making system will look following these elections, as gridlock is likely to continue. Indeed, in July of this year, the Washington Post published an article titled: “The 113th Congress is historically good at not passing bills”.

With the GOP in control of the House, it has been very difficult for the Democrats to pass anything, as a Bill requires the support of both houses in Congress. Initially, this may seem like the GOP has an advantage, but after Congress passes a Bill, it is put to the President. If he does not support it, he can veto it, which will require a 2/3 majority in both the Senate and the House to overrule.

So, power still lies with the President in that sense.

But what does this mean for the 2016 Presidential elections, as some are calling the mid-terms as simply a warm-up for the races in two years time?

Despite winning the mid-terms, the Republicans are in a difficult situation. According to a CNN poll, 8 in 10 people are dissatisfied with Congress, while 6 in 10 are dissatisfied with how Obama is doing his job. This implies that they are frustrated with the lack of progress made in Congress, more so than with the Obama administration itself.

With this in mind, the GOP can either stick with the stance they have had for the past four years, and hold up policies, or they can allow more to pass through.

passed

Both could be potentially damaging.

With the former, there is a strong possibility that many more people with become dissatisfied with Congress should the gridlock continue, which will potentially damage the GOP’s chances for 2016. A similar result took place in the 1994 mid-term election race, with Bill Clinton facing what became known as the Republican Revolution.

Back then, the GOP took control of both houses, only to see Clinton go on to have a second term in 1997. This could mean that we may see a second consecutive Democrat administration in 2016. if the Congress fails to look effective to the American people.

On the flip side, if the GOP decide to allow a number of Democrat Bills to pass, then it will make them look weak, and allow for the Democrats to showcase what they could do in a  full majority administration in 2016, with another Democrat President.

At the moment, the 2016 race is in the air. It is extremely likely that the Democrat candidate will be Hilary Clinton, who is blasting ahead of her competitors in the polls. She sits at 64%, according to an ABC/ Washington Post poll, miles ahead of her competitors.

For the Republicans, it is much harder with many candidates fighting for the primaries. However, the main candidate appears to be Jeb Bush, younger brother of the last GOP President George W. Bush.

The fact that both frontrunners for both parties is not encouraging to some voters, with many stating they are displeased at the idea of voting for another Clinton or Bush. Indeed, for the Bush side, it looks almost like a royal family: first Bush Snr., then Bush Jr., and now Bush Jr. again.

What is clear, though, is that Americans are very much displeased with the Obama administration, but the 2016 race is, for now, difficult to predict.

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