US Elections 2016: Final countdown

Thousands of other elections in US today

Republican Senator John McCain is running for a sixth term in Arizona and could be re-elected because of Latino support. Republican nominee Donald Trump rallying supporters in a cargo hangar at Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport in Minnesot
Republican nominee Donald Trump rallying supporters in a cargo hangar at Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport in Minnesota on Sunday. But while his battle with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton goes on, many others are taking place for seats in the US Senate and House of Representatives.PHOTO: REUTERS
Republican Senator John McCain is running for a sixth term in Arizona and could be re-elected because of Latino support. Republican nominee Donald Trump rallying supporters in a cargo hangar at Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport in Minnesot
Republican Senator John McCain is running for a sixth term in Arizona and could be re-elected because of Latino support. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Day of reckoning as Democrats, Republicans battle for control of Senate and House

While all eyes have been on the knock-down, drag-out presidential fight between Mrs Hillary Clinton and Mr Donald Trump, there are literally thousands of elections taking place across the United States today.

The Democrats are hoping, despite tightening polls, that Mrs Clinton will not only win but also help knock off enough Republican congressional candidates to give her party a majority in the US Senate.

At present, the 100-seat Senate has 54 Republicans, 44 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the Democrats. There are 34 seats up for grabs, of which 24 are held by Republicans. The Democrats need to take back just four of them to give them a majority if Mrs Clinton wins, as ties in the Senate are broken by the vice-president.

The only Senate seat that might be possible for the Republicans to flip is in Nevada. The state's former attorney-general Catherine Cortez Masto had a slim lead over Republican Joe Heck in the race to replace Senate minority leader Harry Reid, who is not seeking re-election.

In the lower chamber, the GOP seized control in 2010 when its candidates turned the 435-seat House of Representatives red during President Barack Obama's first term.

Mr Trump's party now holds a 59-seat majority there. Most analysts say it would take a blue wave of wins for Democrats across the US to flip the 30 seats needed to retake control.

The latest projections by PredictWise, a well-regarded forecaster, put the probability that election day will produce a President Clinton with a Democratic Senate and a Republican House at 61 per cent.

Even with just the Senate on her side, Mrs Clinton would have a better chance of negotiating with the Republicans in getting legislation passed. She could possibly even get a Supreme Court justice approved to fill the seat vacated by the death of conservative Anthony Scalia in February. The Republicans in the Senate and House have refused to approve of Mr Obama's choice for the vacant seat.

By contrast, PredictWise estimates that there is a zero per cent chance of a President Trump with a Democratic Senate and Republican House, and a 16 per cent chance of him and a Republican Congress.

States where the Democrats could win Senate seats are Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Indiana and New Hampshire, according to The New York Times.

Among the big names in the fight is Arizona Republican and senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, who is running for a sixth term.

Senator McCain has distanced himself from Mr Trump, who blatantly insulted his status as a Vietnam war hero, and appears headed for re-election, partly because of modest Latino support.

Early on election night, all eyes will also be on the home state of Republican vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence, where Mr Evan Bayh is trying for a comeback. After 12 years in the Senate, he left in 2011 for various private pursuits. A win for Mr Bayh would be an early sign of a good night for the Democrats.

In New Hampshire, popular Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan faces off against popular GOP Senator Kelly Ayotte. The race is close.

In another closely watched race, Democrat Deborah Ross, a former representative in the State House, was up by four points over the Republican incumbent, Senator Richard Burr.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 08, 2016, with the headline 'Thousands of other elections in US today'. Print Edition | Subscribe