US voters are casting their ballots in critical midterm elections that will decide the next makeup of Congress. The vote comes amid stark political polarization in the United States and as many citizens are struggling with rising living costs and soaring inflation.
The midterm elections that could decide the political future of both President Joe Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump — who has all but announced he will seek the White House again in 2024.
Biden’s Democrats are facing a gargantuan struggle to hang on to Congress, after a race the president has cast as a “defining” moment for US democracy — while Trump’s Republicans campaigned hard on kitchen-table issues like inflation and crime.
Trump — who has been heavily hinting at a new run — grabbed the election eve spotlight to flag “a big announcement” a week from now on November 15, while Biden made a final appeal to Democrats to turn out en masse at the polls.
Trump had described the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as an animal in the context of the quarrels between the Democrats and the Republicans ahead of the elections.
“The power’s in your hands,” Biden told a rally near the capital. “We know in our bones that our democracy is at risk and we know that this is your moment to defend it.”
According to US media, Republicans are excited about the prospect of winning back Congress, while President Joe Biden is insisting his party could spring a surprise.
These elections are for Congress, which is made up of two parts – the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The votes are held every two years and when they fall in the middle of the president’s four-year term of office, they are called the midterms.
If both the House and Senate flip, Biden would be left as little more than a lame duck.
With Congress out of Democrats’ hands, he would see his legislative agenda collapse.
That would raise questions over everything from climate crisis policies, which the president will be laying out at the COP27 conference in Egypt this week; to Ukraine, where Republicans are reluctant to maintain the current rate of US financial and military support.
More than 40 million ballots were cast through early voting options, meaning the outcome had already begun to take shape before election day.
Up for grabs are all 435 House seats, a third of the 100 Senate seats, and a slew of state-level posts. Four states are also holding referendums on abortion — California, Vermont, Kentucky and Michigan.