US election: Not just about Clinton vs Trump

Read few comments.

Questions:

1. How do you see the chances that the GOP will keep the control over House and the Senate in the upcoming election?

2. In general, what kind of impact does the very fierce presidential contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have on the House and Senate elections?

Answers:

Cal JillsonProfessor of Political Science, Southern Methodist University

1. It seems quite likely that Republicans will retain control of the House, though by a reduced margin, but that the Democrats will take narrow control of the Senate. In the House, the Republican margin of sixty seats will likely be cut in half, while in the Senate the Republican’s small four seat margin will likely be overcome as the Democrats take five to seven seats currently held by Republicans.

2. Partisan gridlock has become the norm in U.S. politics. Hillary Clinton is very likely to win the presidency, but she will face a Congress in which Republicans will hold enough seats to be able to block major presidential initiatives. The rancor of the elections will leave both sides bruised and will make compromise difficult.

Michael Cheney, Professor of Communication, University of Illinois, Springfield

1. I would see no reason why the GOP would not keep control over the House. The congressional districts were redrawn in 2010 and the map favors strongly the party that currently holds the seat.

As for the Sen are, while the race is shifting over the last week, I would predict that the best outcome for the Dems would be to have 50 senate seats after the election with the VP, assuming it is the Democratic VP candidate, holding the swing vote. But as the Senate needs 60 votes for most initiatives, not a lot of hope to suggest gridlock would suddenly disappear.

2. The fierce contest has polarized the country and voters are feeling the stress of that contest. The best thinking on this suggests that while some voters might choose to split and vote for one party for president and the other party for down ballot positions, much of the research suggests voters are not as likely to do that kind of voting this cycle. Some preliminary research suggests that voters may opt to vote for down ballot candidates and just not vote for president.

Michael Kraft, Emeritus Professor, University of Wisconsin – Green Bay

1. Fair chance, esp. for the House. But at the moment it looks like the Democrats might well take control of the Senate. The percentages that the election site “538” gives are 68% chance that the Democrats take the Senate. That includes likely or possible wins in New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and assumes the party holds Nevada.

It is not likely that Democrats can take the House, but the Republicans may well lose some of the margin they now enjoy.

2. There does appear to be some influence on the so-called “down ballot” races, and we have Democratic candidates in states like Wisconsin clearly trying to say that the Republican candidates they are opposing in both the House and Senate races “stand with” Donald Trump. This was working pretty well when Trump was well down in the polls and getting some bad press. Things have brightened for him this week, but the trend may well reverse before we get to Tuesday. We will know the precise effect only when we have exit polling on election day. Bear in mind also that many people already have voted, and more will do so over the next week before we get to the end of the election on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

David KarolAssociate Professor, American Politics, University of Maryland

1. It is very unlikely Republicans will lose control of the House. The battle for the Senate is very competitive, however.

2. In general, Trump has been a hindrance for Republican candidates. More than a few have distanced themselves from their party’s presidential nominee, even saying they will not support him. We haven’t seen anything like it in many years.

John Dinan, Professor, Wake Forest University

Presidential campaigns generally have strong effects on the outcome of House and Senate contests, in that they often drive turnout and boost support for congressional candidates of the winning party in the presidential race. To be sure, many of the 435 House races and just over half of this year’s 34 senate races are not in any way competitive. But in competitive House and Senate races, the presidential campaign can have important down-ballot effects, in that a strong showing by Clinton would likely boost the prospects of Democratic congressional candidates, while a strong showing by Trump could hold down the magnitude of what are expected to be Republican losses of at least some kind in the House and Senate.

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