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A lot at stake in midterm elections

Opinion Piece

What could well be the decisive week of at least his first term has begun for United States President Donald Trump as the midterm elections loom.

Trump has a lot at stake. If the Republicans lose control of the House of Representatives — which is far more likely than the Senate, where only nine Republican seats are being contested — he would be hamstrung in trying to enact legislation, as Barack Obama was in his final term. All 435 seats in the House are being contested and the Democrats need a net gain of 24 seats to win control.

It is going to be an engrossing contest. Predictions that there would be a Blue Wave have been tempered with Trump’s support firming lately and recent media interviews showing his hard line supporters have not wavered.

He can also welcome good economic news; the US economy added 250,000 jobs in October, unemployment (3.7 percent) is at a 48-year low and the annual wage increase reached 3.1 percent for the first time since the 2009 recession.

Against that the Democrats have been mobilising and spending large. It is significant that they will present more women candidates than ever before. Trump is anathema to many women with comments like calling his accuser Stormy Daniels “horse face.”

As always there are some interesting contests such as Stacey Abrams, who is supported by Oprah Winfrey, seeking to be the first Black woman governor of Georgia, while the country should see its first Muslim woman representative in Rashida Tlaib.

Appealing to his base, Trump has been accusing the Democrats of being soft on crime and sent thousands of troops to the Mexican border to block what he says is an invasion by a caravan of about 5000 desperate mainly Hondurans seeking asylum in the US.

The party of the president traditionally loses seats in the midterm elections, in which only 40 percent of Americans voted last time. Another low turnout would favour the Republicans but with the Democrats being given an 80 percent chance of winning the House, the pressure is definitely on Trump and his party.