A Guide to Midterms 2018

A Guide to Midterms 2018

What you need to know

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The midterms are rapidly approaching, and America has never been more polarised, but for many native and non-Americans alike, the midterms can be confusing. Thus, we decided to simplify them and provide a state by state overview of the upcoming elections. 

[All polling data, unless specifically stated, was taken from FiveThirtyEight which you can find here]

What are midterm elections? 

The United States has a bicameral political system, as such, the race for control of Congress consists of elections for both legislative branches: the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate is divided into three classes, each roughly totalling 33-35 senators. These groupings are then staggered to determine when they will be up for re-election to prevent disruption caused by all 100 seats in the Senate being up for election. 

This is not the case in the House. So:

•   Members of the House of Representatives are elected every two years. 

•   Senators are elected every 6 years. 

•   35 seats in the Senate are up for election this year 

Currently, the Republican Party (GOP) have control of the House, with Democrats needing to maintain their current seats and secure an additional 23 to take back control. Polls suggest that Democrats have an 81.4% chance of winning over the House of Representative. 

Around a third of the senators up for re-election on November 6th are Democrats. Thus the odds are looking less favourable for the Democratic Party in the Senate, as they need to defend their 26 seats and secure 3 more to alter the 51-47 makeup significantly.  

The States and Where They Stand This Midterm 

Arizona- It’s a tossup  

One of the most exciting races in the midterm elections. After Senator Jeff Flake decided not to seek re-election, the former ‘Safe Republican’ state is now one to watch. The Republican party has chosen conservative Congresswoman Martha McSally, to run against progressive Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema. The race between these candidates is particularly crucial for those in the LGBTQ+ community, with Sinema being an open member of said community. Nonetheless, as it currently Sinema is performing a bit better in the polls, but only slightly (49.7% vs 48.1%).

California- Safe Democrat

Unsurprisingly, California is a pro-Democrat state. Thus, the two candidates up for election to the Senate this midterm are both Democrat. Dianne Feinstein (D) is defending her seat against colleague Kevin de Leon.

Connecticut- Safe Democrat

Connecticut is also widely regarded as a safe Democrat seat. Therefore it is likely the incumbent Senator Christopher Murphy (D) will be able to defend his position from Matthew Corey (R), as well as other independent candidates. Recent data suggests the odds of this is 60.6%. 

Delaware- Safe Democrat

Delaware is also a safe Democrat seat. Senator Thomas R. Carper (D) is in a comfortable position, with a 20% lead over his opponent Rob Arlett in the polls. 

Florida- Tossup

Florida shocked the 2016 electorate when it was overwhelmed by the ‘red wave’. Senator Bill Nelson (D) is running against Rick Scott (R). This is one of the most critical races in the 2018 midterm elections, as it may determine which party will control the Senate. This heated competition between the two candidates is reflected in recent poll data, that currently depicts a slight Democrat lead of 51.3% (D) vs 48.7% (R)

Hawaii- Safe Democratic

Hawaii is also widely perceived to be a safe Democrat seat, with Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D) seeking re-election. Poll data confirms, this, predicting the possibility of a Democrat win at 76.7% versus 23.3% for Ron Curtis (R). 

Indiana- Tossup

In the 2016 Presidential Election, Indiana was one of the states that saw a red wave, picking the now President Trump over Hillary Clinton. Due to the existing support base for Trump in this state, it has been a tight race for the Democratic incumbent, Senator Joe Donnelly, who is defending his seat against Mike Braun (R). This is reflected in the polls, where Donnelly has a marginal lead over Braun (50.3% vs 47.2%). 

Maine-  Independent (Democrat caucus) 

Maine is one of the few states that is currently represented in the Senate by an Independent, Senator Angus King, and polls predict it will remain this way. Although King is more aligned with the Democrats, he is not a member of the party. Current odds give King a 58% chance of retaining his seat, a 33.5% of Eric L. Brakey (R) winning the seat, and a mere 8.5% of Democrats securing the seat. 

Maryland- Safe Democrat

Two years ago Maryland overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton in the Presidential election (with a bigger margin than almost all of the New England States), and in these elections they seem to continue the trend, as the polls suggest a landslide win by the Democratic candidate Benjamin L. Cardin, over a Republican Tony Campbell (56% vs 17%)

Massachusetts- Safe Democrat 

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D) has been at the centre of controversy in the recent weeks in regards to her Native American heritage. Nonetheless, she remains ahead in the polls with a 20%, lead over the Republican candidate Geoff Diehl.

Michigan- Safe Democrat

Despite Michigan narrowly selecting Trump for President in 2016, the Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow (D) is predicted to defend her seat John James (R) successfully. Stabenow is currently ahead in the polls (around 55% to 40% depending on the poll).  

Minnesota- Safe Democrat

In Minnesota, the incumbent Amy Klobuchar (D) is currently in the lead over the Republican candidate Jim Newsberger (on average 59.5% to 37.6%) for senator. There is also a special election taking place in Minnesota this year to fill the vacant seat left by Senator Al Franken, who resigned over sexual harassment allegations in 2017. Tina Smith (D) has temporarily filled this seat and is standing for election against Karin Housely (R).  

Mississippi- Safe Republican

This deep south state is a Republican stronghold, with polls indicating a strong Republican win for Senator Roger F. Wicker (R) against David Baria (D). There is also a special election taking place due to Thad Cochran’s (R) resignation, during the midterm period, the primaries to nominate candidates will be held. 

Missouri- Tossup

In the 2016 presidential election, Missouri also overwhelmingly supported Donald Trump and the Republican Party. Yet, the current Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill is up for re-election against Republican candidate Josh Hawley. This is undoubtedly a state to watch, but what is particularly interesting is that both candidates, irrespective of party, both are fond of Donald Trump’s presidency, with McCaskill voting in line with Trump 44.9% of the time, which is one of the highest percentages among Democrats. 

Montana- Leaning Democratic

Senator John Tester (D) is running for re-election in a state which the Republican Party overwhelmingly won in 2016.  Even though the overall political situation in Montana is not looking very well for the incumbent, the polls suggest that he will probably win over the Republican candidate Matt Rosendale (about 5% advantage) 

Nebraska- Safe Republican

Republican Senator Deb Fisher is running for re-election, with endorsements from the President himself. Fisher currently has a 15% lead over her Democrat opponent Jane Raybould.

Nevada- Tossup

The incumbent Republican Senator Dean Heller has been endorsed by Donald Trump and has the backing of the majority of the party. Heller has to defend his seat from Jacky Rosen (D), with the race being one to watch as the polls are close between the two candidates. 

New Jersey- Safe Democrat

A historically democratic state is predicted to re-elect the current Senator Robert Mendez (D), although, his advantage over the Republican Bob Hugin is relatively small, of 10%. 

New Mexico- Safe Democrat

The citizens of New Mexico have historically voted Democrat and are predicted to do so again. The incumbent Martin Heinrich (D) is leading the polls while Republican Mick Rich has a 30.5% of winning the race and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson has a 19.7% chance.

New York- Safe Democrat

Being one of the major democratic strongholds, New York is upholding its voting tradition and will continue to vote for the Democratic Party in these elections. The incumbent Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D) (in the office since 2009) is predicted to win, with the polls suggesting a 30% margin over the Republican runner-up Chele Farley.

North Dakota- Leaning Republican

Looking to be the first loss by the Democrats in these elections, North Dakotans (who chose Trump in 2016) are looking to choose a Republican again, Kevin Cramer (according to polls). The incumbent, Senator Heidi Heitkamp, is 5% behind him and the margin seems to only grow over time.

Ohio- Safe Democrat

Although Trump won Ohio from the Democrats back in the presidential election, the midterms suggest that the Democratic incumbent will be re-elected, restoring the Democratic hold on the state. The campaign has been filled with negative advertisements and opponents attacking each other, but Senator Sherrod Brown is 10% ahead in the polls, with Jim Renacci (R) coming in second. 

Pennsylvania- Safe Democrat

The marginal Republican majority in Pennsylvania was a big hit for the Democratic party in 2016 – is one of their major electoral bases – they broke its voting tradition and choose a Republican president, for the first time since 1988. Polling data suggests that the Democrats will make a comeback, with the incumbent Robert Casey Jr (D) 15% ahead of Lou Barletta (R) in the polls.  

Rhode Island- Safe Democrat

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D) (who caught the national attention when questioning Judge Brett Kavanaugh on the Senate Judicial Committee) is highly predicted to remain in his Senate seat. The polls show a 30% advantage over the Republican candidate Bob Flanders.

Tennessee- Leaning Republican

In this historically Republican state, the two candidates running for election are Marsha Blackburn (R) and Phil Bredesen (D). Both of them support the current administration (although Bredesen does so in a moderate capacity. So far Blackburn is 5% ahead in the polls.

Texas- Leaning Republican

Three years ago if someone said that Ted Cruz would not only lose his Presidential nomination to Donald Trump but also have a progressive Democrat threatening his Senate seat, no-one would have believed it. Now Beto O’Rourke, although still about 5% behind Cruz in the polls, Rourke’s popularity is continuing to gain momentum. 

Utah- Safe Republican

Former Presidential candidate in 2012, Mitt Romney, is running for re-election and all signs suggest that he will continue to represent his state in the Senate. The polls show a 30% advantage over the runner-up Jenny Wilson (D).

Vermont- Safe Democrat

Another former Presidential candidate, from 2016, Bernie Sanders, should not encounter any challenges with his seat in the Senate. He has become one of the major front-runners of the new, more progressive and socialist wing of Democrats (although he is running as an Independent). He is leading the race with a margin of around 45% (or more in some polls).

Virginia- Safe Democrat

In this state, the polls suggest a very likely win for the Democratic party, as the incumbent Tim Kaine is leading the polls by a 20% margin over the Republican candidate Corey Stewart.

 Washington- Safe Democrat

The State of Washington has been a Democratic stronghold for many years. This year it seems that the Democrats will continue to maintain control in this state, as the incumbent, Maria Catwell, is leading the polls with a safe 20% margin over the Republican candidate, Susan Hutchinson.

West Virginia- Leaning Democratic

Joe Manchin is one of the most conservative Democrats currently sat in the Senate which is reflective of the traditional West Virginian electorate who saw ‘a red wave’ in 2016. However, Manchin’s conservative approach has so far been successful in securing support in this upcoming election; as so far, he is leading in the polls with an 8% advantage over Patrick Morrisey (R).

Wisconsin- Leaning Democratic

 This is another Swing State in the Rockies, which was surprisingly won by Donald Trump two years ago. Now the Democrats are fighting for their candidate to be re-elected. So far Tammy Baldwin is leading, with Republican Lea Vukmir strongly backed by the Conservative women in the region, oscillating around 10% behind the incumbent.

Wyoming- Safe Republican

Wyoming is a safe Republican state. In the 2016 Presidential election, Hilary Clinton only managed to secure 22.5% of the vote. Thus it’s not surprising Senator John Barrasso (R) is confident of being reelected. He currently has a 40% advantage over Democrat Gary Trauner. 

Regardless of poll data, given the current political climate, it is clear that the upcoming Midterm elections on November 6th are of grave importance, as they can dramatically alter the composition of Congress. 

If you’re a U.S. citizen, we strongly encourage you to exercise your constitutional right to vote! Find out how to here

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