Midterms Elections: a huge defeat for Obama

On 4 November, the midterm elections were held in the USA. The midterms are elections that are held two years after the election of the president, right in the middle of the president’s four-year term.

Federal offices that are up for election during the midterms are members of the United States Congress, including all 435 seats in the US House of Representatives, and about a third of the 100 seats in the US Senate (36 this year) and eventually some state governors.

Before the elections, 45 seats were controlled by the Republicans in Senate while 53 were held by the Democrats. Republicans needed to win 6 more seats to have the majority. Republicans already got control of the House of Representatives in 2010. But they sought victory in the Senate which would give them more leverage to oppose Obama’s reforms.

The elections were indeed a large victory for the Republicans. In all, the Democrats lost 13 seats in the House of Representatives and 7 seats in the senate which is now controlled by the Republicans. A true landslide for the Democrats, a ‘red tuesday’ for Obama’s party. This is the first time in 10 years that the Republicans have gained control of the Senate.

Barack Obama’s defeat is one of the worst defeat ever a president has ever faced in midterm elections. We need to go back as far as Harry Truman to find worse midterm results. But Obama shouldn’t take it too personally. The only candidate who managed not to make his party lose seats in a midterm election, whatever the party was…Bill Clinton!

This huge defeat can be explained by a number of hot issues that American citizens are blaming the president for not handling properly such as gun control, legalization of marijuana, immigration, infrastructure and particularly the healthcare reform.

Another key factor in this election was also the low turnout as is generally the case with the midterm elctions. Noone votes in the midterms! It has been the same old story since the 1840s The young, the minorities, the female voters that generally tend to vote Democrat did not make it to the ballot-box while the older whiter men did. And they usually vote Republican.

The Congress now looks nothing like the Congress Obama started with in 2008. Within the house of Representatives, 244 seats are controlled by the Republicans and 186 by the Democrats. As for the Senate, 53 seats are controlled by the Republicans and 44 by the Democrats (plus 2 seats for the Independent party)

What options are left to President Obama? Well, not many, obviously. The president still has the possibility to bypass Congress through executive orders, he can still veto the laws Republicans will eventually pass. But he could end up being blocked by the Senate, even challenged to court. Time has probably come for compromise. But whatever the political options Obama will opt for, the next two years might get a little…tense?!

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