What and When Are Midterm Elections?

Campaign signs in Austin, Texas. Editorial credit: stock_photo_world / Shutterstock.com
Campaign signs in Austin, Texas. Editorial credit: stock_photo_world / Shutterstock.com

An election as in important event in a country’s history since it determines its leadership and direction. Through elections, governments are formed, changed, or maintained and sometimes the system of government is changed. In the US, elections are held for government official at all the three levels; federal, state, and local. The president who is the head of state and the federal legislatures or Congress are elected at the federal level. The US election system is divided into the presidential election and the midterm elections. The presidential election is held every four years on the second Tuesday of November while midterm elections are held in November of every even-numbered year not divisible by two.

Purpose of Midterm Elections

The midterm election can be referred to as a type of election where the people of a country elect their representatives in the middle of executive’s (president or prime minister) term or that of another set of members. The elections are staggered so that not all the sets fall vacant at the same time when an election is declared. Some of the countries that use midterm elections are Argentina, India, Liberia, Nepal, Venezuela, and the US. In most cases, the results of the midterm election are used measure how influential and popular the incumbent executive is.

Midterm Elections in the US

In the US, midterm elections are held in the month of November of even-numbered years not divisible by four, often midpoint of the president’s term in office. The federal offices up for grab are the members of the US Congress including both in the Senate and the House of Representatives. In addition, 34 of the 50 state governors are elected to a four-year term during the midterm elections while two state governors (New Hampshire and Vermont) are elected to a two-year term during midterm and presidential elections. Several state legislatures are also elected alongside mayors and other public local officers in the midterm year. Compared to the presidential election, midterm elections attract lower voter turnout of approximately 40% of the eligible voters. The next midterm election in the US will be held in November 2018.

Midterm elections are sometimes considered a referendum on the incumbent president and on the performance of the party. In most elections, the president’s party has lost ground. In fact, in the last 21 midterm elections prior to 2018, the party that sponsored the president to the White House has lost an average of 30 and 4 seats in the House and Senate respectively. The president’s party has gained seats in both houses only in 2 of the 21 midterm elections.

2018 US Midterm Election

The midterm elections in the US will likely be held on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. The elections will take place halfway during President Donald Trump’s term. All the 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 sets in the Senate will be up for election. 39 governors and numerous other state and local officials will also be elected. The primary season for the federal election began in March and is expected to end in September. Special elections are also scheduled for the same day to fill the vacant positions in two Senate Classes in Minnesota and Mississippi.


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