For U.S. Democrats, the House is theirs to lose

But the minority party may lose seats in the Senate.

COLORADO RESIDENTS vote in the US midterm elections (photo credit: REUTERS)
COLORADO RESIDENTS vote in the US midterm elections
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – Generic ballot surveys, state-by-state polling and historic precedent all indicate a blue wave will sweep Democrats back into the House of Representatives on Tuesday, when the nation holds midterm elections for state and local offices.
More than 30 million Americans have already cast their ballots in early voting that points to record turnout for an election held outside of a presidential year. That has buoyed Democratic hopes they will receive the strong turnout necessary not only to take back the lower chamber, but also to hold crucial seats in the upper chamber, the Senate, where they are playing defense.
They face a tough map this year among the 35 Senate seats up for grabs. The most competitive Senate races are in states where Democrats sit but that US President Donald Trump won in 2016. And several enter Tuesday’s election down in the polls, making it feasible – if not more likely than not – that Republicans will hold the Senate and even pick up a few seats.
Should Democrats take the House, they will be able to block party-line legislation and chair several critical committees with appropriations and subpoena power, making it difficult for the president to unilaterally decide which priorities to fund and opening him and his aides to investigation on countless fronts. Their failure to take back the Senate will mean that Republicans maintain power over nominations to powerful positions, such as cabinet posts, ambassadorships and justiceships.
Democrats’ victory will be a test of the party’s evolving stance on Israel as it seeks to differentiate itself from the president in power on foreign policy. Aid to Israel – including emergency aid in times of conflict – goes through the House, and votes on such aid have been the subject of debate in several races across the country.
A wing of the party that self-identifies as progressive, including such figures as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a candidate for New York’s 14th congressional district seat, advocate harsher policy on Israel over its presence in the West Bank and its military operations in the Gaza Strip. Their position as the majority in the House, coupled with what is guaranteed to be a fierce Democratic presidential primary, may challenge the party to come to a consensus on its Israel positions.
The party also continues to oppose the president’s withdrawal from a 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran, and may use control of the House as a vehicle to undermine or probe his policy of “maximum pressure” on the Islamic republic.
Democrats considering a run for the presidency say they will decide how to proceed after Tuesday’s election.