Tuesday is the day of elections in the United States. Voters across the country will go to polls for the so-called "parliamentary elections" and will select thousands of public officials from members of the Congress to members of the school council and city councilors.
American elections differ from the elections in many other democracies, and their rules and customs are often troublesome. Here are some answers to readers' questions about the semantic work 2018.
What exactly are the elections to the European Parliament?
In the literal sense, presidential elections are exactly as their name suggests: elections held in the middle of the president's four-year term. This includes a wide range of competitions, from congress venues to regattas of town mayors and county sheriffs.
Congressional elections in the US, held every two years, are the most prestigious competitions. In the House of Representatives, the lower house, all 435 seats are contested each time. In the Senate, the upper chamber, the six-year terms of senators are spread out, so that about one-third of them are elected each time. This year 35 of 100 seats in the Senate are waiting for you. All these lengths and dates of elections are set out in the United States Constitution.
When people refer to mid-term elections, these Congressional voices are usually what they think about. They offer voters the best chance in the period between presidential elections to balance the president's results and shift the balance of power if they are unhappy.
There are also thousands of other races across the country. Most US states – 36 out of 50 – will organize elections for the governor this year, and the vast majority of state parliaments also have elections. In many places voters will also choose judges, sheriffs, mayors and any number of other local officials. All of these choices are governed by state and local law, not by the US Constitution.
State and local races often remain relatively unnoticed, even in the United States alone. But governors and state legislators have considerable power, just like the mayors of a big city. The rights they create for their residents can vary greatly from place to place and sometimes serve as test cases for different policies.
Perhaps even more critical, most states put their legislatures responsible for redrawing the borders of state congressional districts (more on this topic later). This year's elections will determine which party controls many of these laws – and governors who can approve or veto them – when the next process takes place in 2020. At each level of the US government, the effects of parliamentary elections can last for years.
Which choices are the most important to watch? We will start with the House of Representatives.
Although there are certainly convincing individual breeds to watch, the easiest way to track things is probably "general voting". This is when the interviewers simply ask voters whether they prefer Democrats or Republicans to win control over Congress.
Unlike many democracies, this number has no effect on any actual race in the United States. But it is an important indicator of which party is likely to reach the top: a party that generates eight points in general voting, as the Democrats now do, will not get exactly 8 percent more seats, but will probably win more than the other side overall.
For example, if voters favor the Republicans, many districts, which usually have a slight or moderate advantage over Democrats, will suddenly become vulnerable or vice versa. If you hear that people are talking about the "wave election", as this year, they are talking about it – that many more choices are more competitive than usual because of political moods.
All this means that democrats are big favorites to get back home: the FiveThirtyEight information portal estimates that they have about 85 percent chance of winning most places in November. However, as in 2016, Nadal means that Republicans also have a way to win.
And what about the Senate?
Only one third of the Senate appears during the reelection, which means that the main political swings that can cause major changes in the House are rare in the upper chamber.
Instead, the Senate's control is usually determined simply by which states elect senators this year. If the elections become more credible, the Democrats, Democrats will probably have a good year and vice versa. This year, the map favors the Republicans with a large margin: Democrats must defend 26 of the 35 seats in elections, many of which are in the countries that voted for Donald Trump in 2016. Republicans can focus on getting back seats from Democrats in good places instead of trying to strengthen their own senators.
So while the Democrats would have to achieve a net gain of only two seats to control the Senate, which is divided 51 to 49 in favor of the Republicans, their path to this is much more difficult. In September, political reporter Post Amber Phillips writes: "Democrats will have to run almost perfectly" the toughest races. Here are her three most important things to watch:
North Dakota: Dream. Heidi Heitkamp is the most likely democrat who has fallen. In a heavily republican state, she is extremely susceptible to losing her mandate – perhaps especially after she voted against the confirmation of the controversial candidate for Bretel M. Kavanaugh's Supreme Court. Recent surveys have shown that Heitkamp is significantly ahead. If he loses, it will be a big blow to the democrat's chances of regaining the Senate.
Nevada: This is the best chance for the Democrats to take the place of the Republicans. Nevada voted for Democrats in the last three presidential races, and the Democrat won the open seat of the Senate, which was until the 2016 elections. The Nevada population is more than a quarter of Hispanics, and pro-democratic trade unions play an important role in state policy. At the moment the race is coming to an end, and Republican Sen. Dean Heller may be slightly favored.
Indiana This is another place where democrats need one of their senators to stay in the republican state. Dream. Joe Donnelly appears in a better condition than his counterpart in North Dakota: surveys give him an edge. If he loses, it could be a sign that the Republicans will have a better night than they predicted.
How will the semantic results affect Trump?
When people ask this question, they probably ask for one thing: impeachment. But while Trump's extortion is a cry for his most sinister critics – and, according to a survey, is generally surprisingly popular – it is unlikely to happen.
Impeachment is in fact a two-stage process, as defined in the US Constitution. First, the House of Representatives considers allegations against the president; if he votes for impeachment (requires a simple majority), it means that the president has been formally charged. To actually remove him from office, the senate must vote to condemn him to these charges, which requires a two-thirds majority. Presidents can be prosecuted without being expelled from the White House, as was the case with Bill Clinton in 1998.
All this would be possible only if the Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress, which is unlikely. Even if the Democrats win both, their leaders seem lukewarm about impeachment; Nancy Pelosi, a leading Democrat in the House, said Trump's impeaching "is not a priority."
What the Democrats could do is start a more serious investigation into Trump's conduct with regard to Russia, his interests, or any other matter that they think the Republicans are downplaying. This may be detrimental to new evidence, or it may just dominate the news as Trump prepares for a reelection campaign. Regardless of what to expect, corruption. If the Democratic House and the Republican Senate are fighting each other, it is difficult to enact any important legislation.
For many people abroad, the American electoral system seems strange – and it seems unfair when it comes to how it represents the will of voters. Can this system be changed?
The issue of changing the system usually appears when people talk about the presidential election. US presidents are elected by the intermediate system called the college of electors, not ordinary popular voting. The person who obtains the most votes may still lose the presidency, as Hillary Clinton did.
The electoral college plays no part in any other election, including those held on Tuesday. But like the rules governing elections in Congress, this is part of the US Constitution. Changing these rules requires a change in the Constitution, not just a new law, and the bar for amendments is high. They must be approved by two-thirds of the majority of both chambers of Congress and then re-approved by at least 38 countries (there is another way of calling a new constitutional convention, but it has never happened before).
When a country is deeply divided, it would be virtually impossible to get 2/3 of any of the Congress houses to agree on major changes. But it is not just a party that makes changes unlikely.
The status quo gives small countries a big advantage. The number of seats in the House of Representatives depends on the number of population – the more residents have the state, the greater its share in 435 seats. But every state has two seats in the Senate, no matter what. Small states, irrespective of guerrilla warfare, will rather not support amendments that would reduce their strength.
There is more room for experiments at the state level. The states can not change the way of representation in Congress, but they can change the way people vote. Instead of using the first chance system – that is, whoever gets the most votes, even if the best candidate does not reach the majority – some states require the best two outflows to win more than 50 percent of the vote, and Maine uses another system called instant voting. In reality, however, most states have laws and constitutions imitating a national government.
And what about these weirdly shaped districts? Why do they exist?
Again, the answer is (at least partially) in the United States Constitution. The Constitution requires that the state should conduct a census every 10 years and that seats in the House of Representatives should be divided between States in proportion to their population. Thus, once in a decade, some countries either gain or lose space depending on population shifts. Changes are automatically determined in accordance with the mathematical formula.
But the Constitution does not speak how states should set the boundaries of these places; each of them can freely use their own method. Many states allow their legislatures to do so, in this way they gain the infamous "gerrymandering" practice – creating districts that have little geographical sense to give one party an advantage. The party in power at the beginning of the decade will, of course, try to gain more seats, either by joining its voters with each other in a strange way, or by cutting as many opponents as few places as possible.
These maps may later be challenged in court for gross dishonest and even exaggerated by the judges. Guerilla and chaos are commonplace.
It may seem crazy to many non-Americans and several countries agree. California and Arizona have independent commissions that draw up their maps, and lawmakers and public officials are banned from participating. Three other countries have advisory commissions that elaborate recommendations for their legislation. Four more have established committees in which both parties can appoint members to take part. All of these are an attempt to make redoxing a bit less guerrilla and a bit more just.
The United States could theoretically change the constitution to create a kind of British border commissions – public agencies that define the shape of districts without any partial influence. But until then (and this is unlikely), countries decide how they want to manage the process, and the courts decide whether things get out of hand.
Why do so much money appear on the election?
Federal law sets limits on how many people can annually submit candidates to the federal office (Congress or Presidency), political parties or political committees – groups that use this money to support candidates. Here is a list of these restrictions.
So if you want to pass directly to the selected candidate or party, you can not give so much. The catch is that there are virtually no restrictions if you want to support the candidate indirectly. The law allows certain types of outside groups to accept unlimited amounts of money and use them to support or against the candidate. The most well-known type of these groups are "super PACs", which have become a way for rich donors on both sides to throw money into the elections.
Technically, these independent groups can not coordinate activities with campaigns or parties that they support. But the definition of "coordination" is narrow, and super PACs are closely related to candidates and parties – they are often run by close associates of candidates or party figures. Groups find many creative ways of working closely with the people they support
These groups are allowed because the Supreme Court believes that the transfer of political means is a form of expression that is protected by the First Amendment. The court relaxed the rules regarding political donations over the years and basically eliminated all restrictions on these external groups in 2010.
But the amount of money in politics does not actually grow steadily. The most expensive election year to date has been the year 2008, and since then the situation has slightly decreased. The amount of money spent by these external groups and, probably, the influence of those who finance them is still growing.