American voters will go to the polls in early November for midterm elections that will determine the composition of the next US Congress.
The election results will set the tone for the remainder of Joe Biden’s term as president, as analysts have said they are likely to rock a political arena already marked by deepening partisanship and polarization.
On November 8, a series of local and state gubernatorial races will take place across the country, with seats in the US Senate and House of Representatives also up for grabs.
The current scenario suggests that the midterm elections could spell trouble for the Democrats as the ruling party. But with Biden getting recent and liberal voters backing them, a Republican victory is not guaranteed.
Here we explain what is at stake in the elections and how the system works:
What are midterm elections?
Midterm elections take place two years after a presidential election, midway through a US president’s four-year term.
Typically, about a third of the seats in the US are up for grabs, along with the 435 seats in the House of Representatives.
Governorships, state legislatures, local councils and school boards will also be contested across the country.
How many seats in the House and Senate will be up for grabs?
The 435 seats in the House will be contested in November, while 35 senators will also be elected.
How are seats distributed in the House and Senate?
Each state, regardless of its population, gets two seats in the Senate, while the seats in the House are distributed among the states according to their size.
For example, California, the most populous state, has 52 House members and Wyoming, the least populous state, has one. But both states each have two senators.
When is the election?
This year, the midterm elections will be held on November 8.
Major US elections are held on the first Tuesday in November, unless that first Tuesday falls on the first day of the month. In that case, the vote occurs a week later, on November 8.
Why are US elections held so often?
The main reason is that House terms are only two years.
In the case of the Senate it is six years, so whether it is a presidential election year or a mid-term election, 33 to 34 Senate seats are also usually up for grabs every two years.
Who currently controls Congress and what does that mean?
He has slim majorities in both the House and Senate, giving them an advantage over Biden in the White House.
For a bill to pass, it needs the approval of both chambers, so control of Congress is critical for legislation to pass in the United States.
In addition to legislating, the Senate is tasked with confirming the president’s cabinet and judicial nominees, as well as approving formal treaties.
Is Trump playing a role in the midterm elections?
It’s rare for a former president to play a major role in midterm elections, but Trump is no ordinary political figure.
He has successfully endorsed dozens of Republican candidates ahead of the November vote as he continues to tease another potential White House bid in 2024.
Trump and many of the candidates he has endorsed have been promoting false claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, raising concerns among critics about his commitment to the democratic process.