The word “midterm” is uniquely able to strike fear into the hearts of stoned college students and hardened political analysts. In the political context, midterm elections are the elections for the House of Representatives and a third of the Senate. They occur between presidential elections. These elections have startlingly low turnout and usually upset the balance of power in Washington.

Don’t believe me? Think back to the 2010 midterms when the Republicans, helped by the Tea Party, picked up 60 seats. This was four more than the Republicans previous best victory –which was in 1938. While the Democrats hung on to the Senate, the balance of power hasn’t ever been the same. We are still feeling the effects of the Tea Party Takeover.

So midterm elections matter a lot. Political science knowledge says that usually, the President’s party does worse in the midterms. A Democratic president leads to a loss in Democrats in the House, and a Republican means fewer Republicans. Usually. Unfortunately, that may not be the case in the 2018 midterms.

Why That May Not Be the Case for this Instance of Midterm Elections

Because of the six-year terms in the Senate, only a third of the Senate comes up for election every six years. thirty-four senators are up for re-election, and twenty-three are Democrats. Two are independents that caucus with the Democrats and only nine are Republicans. That means Democrats are already spread thin. As they try to support 25 races, Republicans only have to fund-raise and campaign for nine races, most in states that usually vote Republicans.

Of the 25 races the Democrats have to support, ten of them are in states that President Trump won in the 2016 election. It’s already a challenge to defend the great Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) from the more conservative elements brewing in Wisconsin (*cough* Paul Ryan *cough*). To also support Problematic Fave Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) as she struggles to hang on to her hard-won Senate seat in North Dakota means the Democrats are facing a unique struggle.

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In contrast, seven of the nine seats the Republicans have to defend in the midterm elections are in Republican strongholds, like Texas and Mississippi. Only two are in possible swing states, Nevada and Arizona. Two swing states versus ten is hardly a home-field advantage for the Democrats.

I don’t watch sports. I hope I used that metaphor right.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting Midterm Elections

If you harbor illusions that the Democrats will take over the House and Senate during the midterm elections, you can forget those right now. Yes, the Democrats would only need to pick up three seats to win the Senate, but that’s going to be shockingly difficult. Let’s say they pick up the two swing states, and a Democrat wins in Arizona and Nevada. And let’s say they don’t lose a single of the 25 re-elections. Everyone wins, from the long-serving Dianne Feinstein in California to a man so problematic he’s barely a fave, Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Where are the Democrats going to pick up another seat? I know one Democratic voter in Mississippi, but I highly doubt he’s going to be enough to beat Senator Wicker. And while my dear Beto O’Rourke is making a strong show in Texas, it’s going to be immensely challenging to defeat noted fan of Twitter pornography, Senator Ted Cruz.

vote in the midterm elections
political words on Newspaper confetti

The most likely best-case scenario, at this point, is that we will have a 50/50 tie in the Senate, which means that Vice President Mike Pence is going to be running back and forth to the Hill way more than he already does. But again. That’s a best-case scenario. It’s far more likely that Democrats will lose a seat. Senators in states that went for Trump will have a tough election.

However, hope isn’t lost, even if you live in a state that doesn’t have a Senate election! Many Senate campaigns will take volunteers from out of state to phone bank. And you can always donate, or even take a trip to a swing state and knock on some doors. After all, Pennsylvania isn’t that far from New York!

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