World Focus

Deep divisions, high stakes: The US gears up for midterm elections

The US is holding elections for some Senate and House seats on Nov 8 in the middle of President Joe Biden’s term at a time of deep divisions in the country and grave concerns over the rising cost of living.

World Focus looks at what is influencing the midterms and what is at stake.

Inflation worries favour Republicans

The midterm elections, in which the Democrats and Republicans will vie for control of Congress, is shaping up to be determined largely by voters' concerns over the economy and the cost of living.

As in 1992, when Republican president George H. W. Bush, though fresh from the triumph of the first Gulf War was defeated by the young Democratic upstart Bill Clinton, in 2022 the famous line from Mr Clinton's campaign strategist James Carville still rings true - It's the economy, stupid.

And as in 1992, when the economy went into recession, today's economic woes for ordinary Americans are real and painful.


Intensifying culture wars amid political polarisation

The United States' midterm elections on Nov 8 are marked by escalating culture wars in an increasingly divided society, seen in the issues that dominated this summer's primary contests.

The fraught issues of abortion and guns featured among the top five issues for both the Republican and Democratic parties. "Of the issues mentioned by each party only abortion and guns fell into the top five for both," according to an analysis by the Brookings Institution, a Washington think-tank.

Democrats also talked about healthcare, climate change and electoral integrity, while Republicans talked about immigration, taxes, regulation and inflation.


Little foreign policy change but political chaos at home

Democrats are slightly favoured to win the Senate, and Republicans are slightly favoured to win the House in the upcoming midterm elections.

The Democrats losing the majority they currently hold in the House while hanging on to their razor-thin Senate majority will have implications for President Joe Biden's administration.

But a lot can happen between now and Nov 8; some of the individual races are very close, with outcomes in one or two them having the potential to change the final outcome for the two parties.


What are the US midterm elections?

The US midterm elections occur midway through an American President's four-year term in office.

This is when Americans elect some members of the US Congress, made up of an upper chamber, the Senate, and a lower chamber, the House of Representatives or just the House. These two chambers work together to enact laws.


Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.