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Election season: What to watch


The midterm elections happen near the midpoint of every presidential term. Voters will elect members of Congress in both the House of Representatives and Senate. With primaries underway and less than a week to go, the American midterm elections are close to its final stages.

A potential blue wave, helped along by red pocket districts

Currently, both the House and Senate have Republican majorities. The Democrats need 24 victories to take the majority in the House of Representatives, and 28 victories to take the Senate. Historically, the midterms have been an opportunity for the party out of power—this time, the Democrats—to gain majorities in both the House and Senate.
In fact, for almost every midterm election cycle since 1910, the party that did not control the presidency usually won the House and Senate majorities.
Red pocket districts are arguably the most vulnerable areas for Republicans. These are the districts that voted Republican in states with an overwhelming Democratic majority. These “red pockets” include the four seats Republicans control in Orange County, California.
Districts such as these have large populations of white and college-educated voters who have the potential to go either Democratic or Republican.
For instance, these particular districts voted heavily for Romney in the 2012 presidential election and Clinton in 2016. But even when these districts leaned towards Hillary, they have also shown the potential for favoring Trump at times, with Trump winning two of the districts by small margins
in 2016. Because of these historical trends, these “red pockets” will be a highly contentious and close races in this year’s midterms.

Immigration is a hot-button issue

Polarizing issues like illegal immigration have the potential to swing the midterms. In July, Republicans failed to pass two consecutive bills that offered a solution to children being held at the border and deported. If the Democrats are able to leverage the message of the Republican’s failures effectively, their chances of winning a majority become greater. While the Democrats now have a clear opportunity to go on the offensive, if the Republicans manage to pass a bill in Congress, it may provide them an advantage in some red pocket districts.

A disturbing wild card: more Russian meddling

Although the extent of Russian intervention in the 2016 presidential elections is still not clear, there is a large conversation surrounding whether similar interference will occur in this year’s midterms. According to a July article published in the Daily Beast and in Vox, there is a possibility that Claire Mccaskill, a Missouri senator up for re-election, has fallen prey to such an attack. Mccaskill is widely
considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic candidates up for office because of Trump’s landslide victory in the 2016 elections in Missouri.
Reporters Andrew Desiderio and Kevin Poulsen used a combination of court records and internet sleuthing to identify that malicious emails to a McCaskill aide were sent from a server that likely belongs to Fancy Bear, the same Russian intelligence group that did the 2016 hacks. If correct, this will be the first recorded instance of Russian hacking in the midterms and will likely become a trend.

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