Control of Congress, Trump’s Power at Stake in Mid-Term Elections.

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Control of Congress, Trump’s Power at Stake in Mid-Term Elections.

By Jim Owen

The mid-term elections in the United States on Nov. 6 will determine whether Republicans or Democrats control Congress, and affect President Trump’s ability to advance his legislative agenda.

Voters will decide who holds all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, as well as 35 of the 100 positions in the Senate. If Democrats take charge of either chamber, they will be in a stronger position to thwart Trump’s proposals concerning immigration, trade, health care, taxes, and other issues.

A Democratic-majority House might initiate impeachment proceedings against Trump, while a Democrat-led Senate could reject his right-wing nominees for the Supreme Court. That could dampen the president’s re-election ambitions in 2020.

Both parties are touting the mid-terms as the most important elections in many years. Here are some reasons that Democrats and Republicans are optimistic.

Why Democrats Are Excited

Polls indicate that Republicans are likely to lose their majority in the House, and may no longer control the Senate. While the party in the White House usually loses some congressional seats two years following a presidential election, this fall’s mid-terms could be a landslide for Democrats.

Many Republican candidates are in trouble, largely due to their association with a widely disliked president. A mid-term election is, in part, a referendum on the nation’s support for the commander-in-chief. According to a recent survey by CNN, only 36 percent of Americans approved of Trump’s job performance. Most of his policies are unpopular with a majority of voters. One poll found that only 33 percent agreed with Trump on “all or nearly all” of his issue positions.

The president is also losing support because of the federal investigation of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians and whether Trump committed obstruction of justice when he fired FBI Director James Comey in an attempt to stop the investigation. The president continues to insist there was “no collusion,” but polls show that most voters do not believe him.

Trump’s controversial nominee for the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, is another headache for Republicans. Three women have accused the appellate court judge of sexual misconduct, charges that he adamantly denies. The scandal is happening in the midst of the “Me-Too” movement of women speaking out against harassment and assault. GOP candidates are struggling to defend a president who admitted on tape that he groped and kissed women without their consent.

Some Republicans are trying to separate themselves from Trump, asking him to not campaign for them. GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak told The Atlantic magazine that the president would hold rallies for the party’s candidates in 15-20 House districts and 10 states holding Senate elections. Trump has been focusing on so-called “red” states, those where a large majority of voters are Republican. In the process, he is raising money for GOP candidates and attempting to boost his own re-election prospects.

Republicans’ Reasons For Hope

Despite the predictions that a “blue wave” of voters will hand over control of Congress to Democrats, the Republicans have some cause for optimism. A GOP strategist predicted during a recent interview with the Washington Examiner that “there are a lot of things that are yet to happen,” which could affect the outcome of the mid-terms.

Another Republican operative acknowledged that “if the election were today, the Democrats would take back the House”, but added: “We’re not far off. Things aren’t great, but I don’t think we’re that far away.”

Republicans are counting on voters who do not hold university degrees to turn out on Election Day. Polls suggest that GOP candidates in districts with high percentages of college graduates are facing an uphill battle. Americans with no more than a high school diploma were key to Trump’s success in 2016 when he proclaimed: “I love the poorly educated.”

Trump and other Republicans are extremely popular in most rural areas. Many people outside the cities and suburbs enthusiastically support the policies and issue positions of the White House and GOP-led Congress. Republican voters are determined to prevent Democrats from seizing control of Capitol Hill. GOP candidates are warning that Democratic leaders like Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi would enact liberal laws if they held the reins of power.

Republicans believe they have some legitimate reasons to claim that Trump’s presidency has been successful. Pointing to rising stock prices and Wall Street profits, they argue that the economy is booming under GOP leadership. The economy has experienced 4.2 percent growth during the past year, and the official unemployment rate has dropped to 3.9 percent.

Many voters are happy about the tax-cut legislation that Congress approved and Trump signed, as well as the president’s repeal of regulations that former President Obama’s administration imposed on businesses. Large numbers of Americans approve of Trump’s commitment to increasing the nation’s military strength, his criticism of other countries’ trade policies, and his appointments of conservative judges.

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