More polarization or coming to the center? The other US elections in November

Incumbent Senator Edward Markey debates challenger Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III in the final debate leading up to the September 1 primary election in Massachusetts, Aug. 18, 2020. (AP)

All eyes are on the US presidential election in November that is gearing up to be one of the most divisive in recent history, pitting incumbent President Donald Trump against Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

There will be other voting taking place on the same day, however, and the results of the Senate race will be just as important, analysts say.

For all the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

In the latest example of the Senate's importance, the Republican party is poised to push ahead and fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Democrats in the Senate and Congress are unable to do much to stop this. In 2016, the Republican-led Senate refused to push through former President Barack Obama’s nominee after Justice Antonin Scalia passed away.

Why it matters?

In the US, the bicameral legislature system means two different chambers for legislation: the House of Representatives and Senate.

The Senate is made up of 100 members, with two from each state. Currently controlled by the Republicans with a 53 - 47 majority, 35 seats are up for grabs in November. Out of the 35 seats, 23 are held by Republicans.

“The thing to know about the Senate race is that Republicans, this year, are defending more seats than Democrats,” John Halpin from the Washington-based Center for American Progress said.

Democrats would need to net at least three seats for a 50-50 split in the Senate “in addition to winning the presidency, in order to break a tie in the Senate,” Halpin said.

The vice president steps in to break any ties on voting.

“They need to net four seats overall to have an outright majority of 51,” Halpin said of the Democrats.

In the House of Representatives, Democrats have a 232 - 198 majority, making it nearly impossible for Republicans to take control of the Congress.

Members of Congress are up for election every two years, and Senators elected for six-year terms.

One-third of the Senate is up for elections in November. Democrats, according to public opinion polls, believe they have a strong shot at winning the presidency.

“The thing to know about the Senate race is that Republicans, this year, are defending more seats than Democrats,” John Halpin from the Washington-based Center for American Progress said.

For Democrats to take control, they will have to net at least three seats and win the presidency, to break a tie in the Senate. This would mean a 50-50 split in the Senate, and then the vice president would step in to break any ties on voting.

Democrats would need to gain four seats overall to have an outright majority of 51.

“Right now, most of the big, battleground Senate seats are a tossup, as we call them,” he said. “We don’t know who’s going to win. They’re very close.”

Further divisions or coming to the center?

Nevertheless, Halpin stopped short of predicting the outcome of the elections.

“It’s quite possible that either Biden or Trump wins the presidency, and the Senate is in the hands of the opposite party.”

If this happens, Halpin said the US would be in for another era of divided government.

Given the nature of legislation in the United States … there will have to be compromises made in the Senate,” Halpin said if opposite parties control the presidency and the Senate.

David Ramadan of the Schar School of Government at George Mason University said the elections would be one of the most important elections “of our lifetime.”

Read more: US elections: Moderators for Trump-Biden debates announced, dates set

According to today’s polls, Biden and the Democrats would win the presidency and take control of the Senate. However, if this happens, there will be a “huge shift” in US politics from right to left, Ramadan said.

In this case, Biden and the Democrats would have no choice but to move even further to the left “to make the left-base, Bernie Sanders social and Democratic base happy. There is no excuse at that point,” Ramadan, also a former member of the Virginia House, told Al Arabiya English.

However, Ramadan believes that a Biden victory with the Republicans keeping control of the Senate would force all sides to “come to the middle” and make the country function in a less polarized manner.

“The elections are truly shaping up to make a difference that could last for a couple of generations on the trajectory of American politics.”

Read more:

US President Donald Trump demands Biden take drug test before or after debate

China, Iran, Israel, and alliances: Foreign policy issues that divide Trump and Biden

SHOW MORE
Last Update: Tuesday, 29 September 2020 KSA 05:09 - GMT 02:09
Top