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All you need to know about US midterm elections 

Washington, November 5

Immigration, health care, jobs. The extraordinary US midterm election has been a tug of war over key issues, but none has had a more dramatic impact on voters than Donald Trump, the man who isn’t even on the ballot.

The Republican president is the omnipresent figure as Americans render their verdict on Tuesday on the past 21 months of Trumpism.

Democrats hope voter dissatisfaction with the contentious commander in chief will lead to a blue wave that flips control of the US House out of Republican hands.

Trump’s minions are counting on enthusiasm about core issues to trigger strong conservative voter turnout that preserves their majorities in Congress.

Here are the key factors in the battle for political control in Washington and across the country. 

He says it himself: Even though Trump is not on the ballot, he is at the heart of the 2018 vote.

The election near the halfway mark of a president’s first term is traditionally a referendum on the White House occupant.

But the billionaire businessman’s explosive and iconoclastic personality has taken the trend to a new level.

“A vote for Marsha is really a vote for me and everything that we stand for,” he said at an October event for Tennessee’s Republican Senate nominee Marsha Blackburn.

Trump’s scorched earth campaign stops have whipped up conservative fears about a migrant caravan “invasion”, waves of crime and a slide towards socialism should Democrats take congressional control.

Many Democrats are counting on anti-Trump fervor to drive their base to the polls, but some advocate ignoring the politics of personal destruction and zeroing in on policy debates.

Trump is “deploying demagoguery to distract and divide us,” and wielding “fear” to shift focus away from issues that Americans truly care about, warned Senate Democrat Patrick Leahy.

The campaign’s final weeks were marred by the worst anti-Semitic attack in modern US history, which left 11 dead in a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Days earlier, a frantic manhunt led to the arrest of a fanatical Trump supporter on charges of mailing pipe bombs to prominent Trump opponents, including former president Barack Obama.

This spasm of violence fueled a debate about the president’s caustic rhetoric, and whether it has played a role in deepening American divisions.

Trump condemned the anti-Semitic attack but was more ambiguous about the homemade bomb threat. He quickly hit the road, and in typical Trump fashion attacked his opponents.

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