When American voters cast their ballots on Tuesday, November 3, they will not only choose a president, but they will also elect 435 members of the House of Representatives, 35 of the 100 members of the Senate.
Despite the focus of attention on the presidential election between Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden, the congressional elections remain important as their results result in a legislature that can hinder or support the policies of the next president.
Many commentators link voting in the presidential race and congressional elections, especially with many voters confirming that their opinion of President Trump will affect their voting pattern in the elections.
President Trump continues to cast a shadow over and influence the Senate and House elections, and it appears that the battle for control of Congress is taking hold as a referendum around him, as Republicans are mortgaging their fate to his fate, while Democrats attack Trump’s record and his relationship with Republican candidates in all states.
Trump’s decline in most opinion polls pushed the chances of the Republican party backing in the congressional elections, and with the increasing expectation of Democrats to retain the majority in the House of Representatives, most opinion polls indicate that they also have a majority in the Senate at the same time.
The importance of the 2020 Congress elections
The US Constitution established a system in which it granted strong powers to the executive and legislative institutions, and made them participate in decision-making and implementation through the principle of separation of powers.
The Congress makes laws, and it can adopt or reject the decisions of the President, and the importance of the House of Representatives is highlighted in issues related to the state budget and state and ministerial allocations. Whereas, it is the responsibility of the Senate to accept or reject the president’s choices of ministers, ambassadors, and Supreme Court justices.
The importance of the 2020 congressional elections is increased by the possibility that the House of Representatives will play a major role in deciding the selection of the new president of the United States, in the event that the announcement of the election results with a clear victory for one of the candidates due to legal and political disputes related to the postal voting and the slow process of counting and sorting ballot papers.
The congressional elections are also witnessing unprecedented enthusiasm due to the increase in the number of participants in the vote compared to the rates witnessed in previous years, due to the expansion of voting by mail and early voting for reasons related to fears of transmitting the Corona virus infection.
Current congressional makeup
Congress is bicameral: the House of Representatives and the Senate. The first House (the House of Representatives) was created to be the body closest to the citizens, and to be elected directly by the people in relatively small constituencies determined by population numbers through frequent elections (every two years), and one representative is elected for every 758,000 Americans on average.
Republicans currently hold the majority in the Senate with 53 members, compared to 47 for the Democrats. Of the 35 seats in the Senate that will be contested again, 23 are held by Republicans, compared to only 12 for Democrats. And if the Democrats get small wins above 4 seats, the majority in the Senate will pass to them.
On the other hand, the Democrats occupy the majority of the seats in the House of Representatives (232 seats compared to 197 for Republicans, and there are 6 vacant seats due to the death or resignation of its members).
The Democrats need 218 lawmakers to ensure party control of the majority in the House of Representatives.
California – the most populous state – has 53 seats in the House of Representatives, while the seven least populated states, such as Montana and Wyoming, each have only one seat.
As for the Senate, it was designed in a way that reflects the interests of the states, so that each state – regardless of its population – is represented by two seats in this council, and the term of a senator is 6 years, and a third of the members of this council are elected every two years.
There are 3 basic elements that determine the fate of the 2020 congressional elections:
First: The party trends prevailing in the electoral district. Competition for control of Congress was intense during the past decades. However, this competition is not intense in every electoral district and in every state.
Some circles and even some states tend to have a great tendency towards this or that party. For example, Democrats often win in Oregon and Maryland, while Republicans win in Oklahoma and Idaho, and this does not preclude some exceptions over the years.
Second: The presence of candidates working on their re-election to Congress, for a period of more than 3 decades, 95% of the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate have been reelected again for subsequent sessions, and even in the elections in which there is an exchange of seats between the two parties, the percentage of this exchange will be The most severe are the seats that are not running again for the deputies who currently occupy them.
The effect of these factors is seen when we look at potential candidates seeking to be nominated by the party for membership in the Senate. Usually, if a member seeks re-election, he is unlikely to encounter serious competition, and the leaders of the opposing party may find it difficult to find candidates willing to enter the competition.
All of these elements apply to the Senate to a lesser extent than they apply to the House of Representatives, because the senator’s seat is more important than the representative’s seat, and the results of elections such as those for the House of Representatives cannot be predicted in advance.
Third: The nature of the issues on which the American voter will vote, as opinion polls reveal that the consequences of the Corona virus and its effects on public health and the economy and the closure of schools and universities are the most important concern of the American voter about his local preferences in the congressional elections.