The vote that could paralyse Trump’s presidency

House divided: The US Capitol is home to Congress. The two parties are each symbolised by an animal.

Who will win tomorrow’s midterm elections in America? The vote will not stop Donald Trump being president. But if Democrats win control of Congress, they could seriously restrict his power.

“The very character of our country is on the ballot on Tuesday,” former Vice-President Joe Biden told crowds this weekend. “Folks, all the world’s looking.”

A few hours later, President Donald Trump told his supporters that “the future of our nation” is at stake, urging them to “build on the extraordinary prosperity that we’ve achieved.”

Tomorrow is Election Day for the 2018 midterms, when US voters re-elect all members of the House of Representatives and a third of the Senate. (Together these make up Congress.)

Both are currently controlled by Trump’s Republican Party, making it easier for him to pass new laws. If Congress swings to the Democrats, that will become much harder.

For many, the midterms are seen as a referendum on Trump’s performance so far. Here are the three key issues for voters:

1/ Health care. Since Trump was elected, Republicans have tried several times to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare). They have been unsuccessful. Around 30 million Americans do not have health insurance, meaning they could face bankruptcy if they get sick. Democratic candidates promise to make it more affordable; Republicans say this is too expensive for the government.

2/ Immigration. For two weeks, Trump has been warning voters about a caravan of around 5,000 migrants from Central America which is on its way to the US. Although it is still hundreds of miles away, last week he promised to deploy 5,200 troops to stop them crossing the border.

Trump has also promised to build a wall along that same border, and introduced a zero tolerance policy on anyone caught entering the US illegally.

3/ The economy. With wages growing and unemployment at 3.7%, America’s economy is strong. Trump has taken credit for this, although some economists fear that his trade war with China could threaten jobs. Last year, the Republicans passed a major tax cut for businesses and the wealthiest Americans. As a result, the government deficit has grown by 17%.

So who will win?

Dems the rules

Pollsters predict that the Democrats will take back the House, if not the Senate too. The government in power almost always suffers during the midterms, and Trump is particularly unpopular. School shootings, #MeToo scandals and accusations of racism have all energised anti-Trump voters. Now is their chance to punish him — and they will.

Trump has surprised people before, say others. His message draws on nostalgia (“Make America Great Again!”) and a fear of outsiders — a combination which clearly resonates with his supporters. His personality is key, and his various scandals only make them love him more. The 2016 election was not a fluke; Trump could easily win again.

You Decide

  1. Will President Trump’s Republicans keep control of Congress?
  2. What makes the president popular with his supporters?

Activities

  1. The Democratic donkey and the Republican elephant both trace their roots back to 19th-century political cartoons. Draw your own cartoon about the 2018 midterms.
  2. Create a timeline of the significant moments in President Donald Trump’s presidency so far.

Some People Say...

“Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.”

Bernard Shaw

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Democrats need to win 23 more seats to gain control of the House of Representatives. There are 435 seats in total, meaning you need 218 for a majority. All of them are up for grabs. There are 100 seats in the Senate, but Senators are re-elected every six years, not every two. For that reason, only 35 seats are up this year. Although Republicans only control the Senate by one seat, most of the 35 up for election are already held by Democrats.
What do we not know?
Whether the Democrats will win one or both houses. Polls generally suggest that they will win the House of Representatives but not the Senate. We also do not know how Trump will react to losing control of Congress; it will be seen as a blow to his performance as president, and a bad sign for his re-election campaign in 2020.

Word Watch

Key issues
These are the top three issues according to a poll by Gallup in late October. Health care was rated extremely or very important by 80% of voters, while 78% said the same for the economy and immigration.
Obamacare
Introduced by President Barack Obama in 2010. As the US does not have universal health care, it is up to individuals to pay their own medical costs. This means it is important to have health insurance. Obamacare provided more coverage to the poorest Americans, and prevented insurance companies from charging more for pre-existing conditions.
Caravan
Not a vehicle, but a large group of people travelling together.
Zero tolerance policy
It was this policy which led to children being separated from their families earlier this year, although that has now been stopped.
3.7%
Around 250,000 jobs were added in October, according to the government.
Trade war
Trump has imposed tariffs on around $250 billion worth of Chinese products. On Friday he said that he thought the US would “make a deal with China.”