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What is chosen in the US midterm elections and why are they important?


(CNN Spanish) — On November 22, the midterm elections will be held in the United States, elections that are held every two years (in the middle of the presidential term) and that are crucial for the direction that the country will take, for several reasons.

On the one hand, because they will define the control that the Democratic and Republican parties will have over Congress, currently in Democrat hands by narrow margins. In addition, the governors of 36 states will also be elected, which could change the political map of the US But there is more: they are also considered a kind of referendum on the management of the president, in this case, on Joe Bien.

What is voted?

Thus, on Tuesday, November 22, 435 seats in the House of Representatives, whose members run every two years, and 35 seats in the 100-member Senate, whose mandates are six years, will be defined. This is not a minor process: the last two years of the Biden government, the initiatives and challenges of the last stage of his term, depend to a large extent on the results, in addition to laying the foundations for the 2024 presidential elections.

What will happen if the Republicans win power in Congress? 2:05

Officially, there are several parties participating in the election, but the real battle in the United States is between the two major parties: the Republican and the Democrat. This is because the electoral system grants the seat to the party that obtains the most votes, unlike several countries where proportional systems grant parliamentary representation to minority parties.

Among the 36 states that will elect governors next November, there are five (Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona) that passed from Republican to Democratic hands in 2020.

What are the important issues of the election?

This election could be the prelude to an electoral rematch between Donald Trump and Joe Biden in 2024, so the main issues today will probably continue to be when Americans elect their next president in two years.

Demonstration in favor of the right to abortion in Texas, USA.

The US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, last June, eliminating the federal right to access an abortion and granting that post-existence in each state, has been one of the axes of the Democratic candidates. Promising the defense of that right, its expansion, or even the enactment of a law in Congress, many have hoped for the possibility of winning over undecided and independent voters.

Republicans, meanwhile, turned to exploiting voters’ concerns about the economy, especially because of inflation—which still ranks as the top issue in most polls; and on crime, to generate a backlash against Democrats at all levels.

And they have history on their side: In the last 150 years, the party that occupies the White House has lost seats in Congress in all but four elections. Additionally, Biden’s approval rating is 41%, against 54% disapproval, according to the latest poll by CNN, which tracks the average of recent polls.

Biden Reelection 2024

President Joe Biden speaks to supporters about the upcoming midterm elections on September 23, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Why on a Tuesday? Why November?

The midterm elections will be held on November 22. Actually, it is a tradition that is almost two centuries old, and that has little to do with the country we know today.

In the mid-nineteenth century, the United States was a fundamentally agricultural country, and voters—white men—had to travel to exercise their right to vote, which they did by horse or cart.

But they couldn’t do it on weekends because they were reserved for religious observance—Saturdays for Jews and Sundays for Christians—and going home on Wednesday, market day. Thus, it only remained to travel on Mondays and vote on Tuesdays.

What Is Chosen In The Us Midterm Elections And Why Are They Important?

US primary elections

For its part, the month of November was a month that fit very well because the harvest season was ending and the worst of winter had not yet arrived.

The reasons behind Tuesdays in November do not fit very well with the current life of most Americans and, for this reason, movements have emerged in recent years to change the day, with the aim of increasing participation figures. electoral.

Elephants and donkeys, red and blue

Beyond the particularities of each election, the truth is that the elections are full of symbolism. One of them is the one that identifies Republicans with an elephant and Democrats with a donkey.

The images do not have the same origin, but it is rather random, although they were popularized by the same cartoonist. In 1874 Thomas Nast was the first to use an elephant to represent the Republican vote in a drawing that was published in the magazine Harper’s Weekly.

In 1828, one of the most important figures of the Democratic Party —Andrew Jackson— was compared by his opponents to a donkey, something that did not completely bother the candidate, who adopted the animal as a symbol.

Nor is there something magical or special about the colors red and blue, but it seems that the media were responsible for popularizing their relationship with the two major parties.

What Is Chosen In The Us Midterm Elections And Why Are They Important?

These are the symbols for Republicans and Democrats, respectively.

It happens that the assignment of tones was not always the same, since about two decades there seems to be a consensus. The reasons sound simple: they’re both colors of the American flag, and they show up so well in images and infographics because they’re pretty much at opposite ends of the color spectrum.

With information from Simone Pathe, Harry Enten, Holly Yan of CNN

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