Who are the candidates for midterm elections
The Democrats have big plans for Tuesday's congressional elections, the so-called mid-term elections, which fall exactly between two presidential elections. You want to recapture at least one of the two chambers in Congress, plus important governor posts in the states. But the country is deeply divided. And not just between Republicans and Democrats. Some regions are progressive, others deeply conservative, elsewhere racial issues play an important role, in other areas hardly any.
While the Republicans rely almost exclusively on candidates who are sworn supporters of President Donald Trump, the Democrats were far more pragmatic in their selection. In most cases, it was determined who had the best chances against the Trumpists in the respective constituency. Here is a small typology of the candidates:
It cannot be dismissed out of hand: Among the supporters of the Grand Old Party, more than 80 percent are firmly convinced that Trump is the right man in the right place. His approval ratings are record breaking. It was difficult for all candidates in the primary elections who had allowed themselves to be at least a little critical of Trump. As a rule, they had no chance. The result is a strictly conservative and Trump extremely well-disposed candidate field.
In North Dakota, for example, Kevin Cramer is contesting the Senate post on the Trump ticket of incumbent and Democrat Heidi Heitkamp. In an election video, he sent his heavily pregnant daughter Annie in front of her, who vilified abortions and castigated Heitkamp's rather liberal line. Annie's sister gently strokes her round belly. Pictures of Cramer and Trump adorn his web page. The campaign works. In polls, Cramer is clearly ahead of the Democrat Heitkamp.
2018 is the election year for women in the USA. 22 women are running for the Senate, 235 for the House of Representatives. Even the number of races in which women compete against women is higher than ever at 33. It has to do with the man in the White House who many consider misogynistic - which is why there are significantly more women who run for the Democrats than for the Republicans.
One of the most prominent women is Stacey Abrams, who has a good chance of becoming governor in the US state of Georgia. She is the first African-American woman to have made it to one of the two major political parties as a candidate for governor. Like many Democratic candidates, she belongs to the moderate left wing of the party.
They are the strongest group within the Democrats and belong to the so-called party establishment. Business-friendly to capitalist, open to immigration with clear rules. For safe borders. For a strong military. For affordable health insurance for everyone.
However, the moderates suffered a bitter defeat in 2016. Your candidate Hillary Clinton lost to the one candidate against whom defeat actually seemed impossible: Donald Trump. Meanwhile, some Democrats are also thinking that Clinton might be the wrong candidate. And that the moderates need new faces.
She is represented by Kyrsten Sinema, previously a member of the House of Representatives who now wants to become a senator for her state of Arizona. Sinema could become the first Democrat to win a statewide election in Arizona in more than ten years. Your opponent Martha McSally, formerly critical of Trump, is now fully on him. But that doesn't seem to work in Arizona. Sinema leads in surveys. It could give the moderate Democrats the hope that their positions hold more prospects of success than positioning themselves on the far left.
For the Democrats, the election is also an intra-party vote on the right path. Some even speak of a "civil war" within the party - socialists against moderates. The socialists want, for example, a radical restructuring of the overpriced and unjust health system. They are demanding health insurance for everyone, as well as higher taxes for the rich and a significantly higher minimum wage.
The most important representative of the progressives is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The 28-year-old surprisingly won the primaries in north New York against the Democratic MP Joe Crowley, who has represented the district for 20 years. He is a party establishment man whom some saw as a possible successor to House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. It is a rare occurrence that an incumbent is defeated in primary elections. Ocasio-Cortez's election victory made Ocasio-Cortez a political star overnight. Politically, she is in line with her mentor and former employer Bernie Sanders, who lost Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential primaries. The constituency of Ocasio-Cortez is considered a safe bet for the Democrats.
The 2016 presidential election showed that the Democrats were most vulnerable where they believed their old constituency would be. In the structurally weak rural steel and coal regions in the rust belt in the northeastern United States or in West Virginia, the Democrats were unable to mobilize the workers. They have now set up several ex-soldiers in such areas. They go head-to-head with Republicans in seven electoral districts for the House of Representatives.
The former fighters enjoy a special reputation among workers. You could often identify with their problems, says Patrick Murray, director of the polling institute at Monmouth University in New Jersey. Workers and soldiers have a kind of internal connection. For many voters, the biographical background means that party political affiliation takes a back seat, says Murray. Why a traditional Republican voter might envision electing a Democrat.
Richard Ojeda is a prime example of such a "Fighting Democrat". The ex-Marine competes in West Virginia in one of the poorest regions of the United States. Mohican cut, covered with tattoos, bull necks. He supported Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential primaries. Later, however, Trump was elected because he had promised to stand up for the coal workers. Today he regrets it. He is in favor of legalizing marijuana and tightening gun laws. He first had to fight for the party's recognition. He waited a long time in vain for support from Washington. Now the money is flowing for his election campaign.
A red band extends from the northernmost tip of Idaho to southeast Georgia on the US map. Along the line are states of Nebraska or Arkansas, in which Republicans have won at least four consecutive terms. For the Democrats, states are often a political no man's land. Often enough there is not even a candidate who is ready to lead an expensive and nerve-wracking election campaign that will almost certainly lead to a bitter defeat. What the majority of the people here believe in: the Bible, the ban on abortion and weapons.
That will not change completely in 2018 either. This time, however, the Democrats have managed to put up candidates who make life difficult for the Republican opponents. Because they are at least as conservative. But somehow fresher, younger, different.
One of them is 34-year-old Billie Sutton, who wants to become governor of South Dakota. Sutton, a former rodeo star, has been in a wheelchair since an accident a good ten years ago. Politically, Sutton is not at all on the party line, against abortion, against new gun laws, against tax increases. He has even selected a Republican to be his running mate to be his deputy governor.
That makes him eligible for those people who have had enough of the drama that the local Republicans have delivered over the past few weeks. Totally divided, they set up Kristi Noem, who prevailed in a relentless primary campaign against long-time Justice Minister Marty Jackley. Many Jackley supporters have already signaled that they will overflow to Sutton. In polls, the race Sutton against Noem is described as close. That in itself is a sensation. Usually Democrats lose 20 percentage points here. The red ribbon would suddenly have a bruise.
Everything would be a lot easier for the Democrats if the Millennials voted in large numbers on November 6th - everyone from first-time voters to adults in their late thirties. The group of millennials in the US is almost as large as that of baby boomers, at 71 million people. The majority lean towards the Democrats. According to a recent poll, 55 percent of them want to vote. But that is not certain. Party ties in this age group are significantly lower than in other age groups. Many have turned away from politics and are rather disinterested. Almost half of them say that these mid-term elections are no more important than the previous ones. And millennials have already been difficult to mobilize in the past.
About 20 Democratic Millennials compete against long-established Republicans in hotly contested electoral districts. One is Colin Allred, 35 years old, black, former professional football player. He wants to win in the 32nd Congressional constituency in Texas. At an event with his peers, Allred had his message to the young party friends: "People think millennials only think in tweets and otherwise only complain. But you are living proof that this is not true."
His opponent is MP Pete Sessions, 63 years old, who has been in office for 15 years. Allred's odds are 50-50. The area has been Republican dominated for decades. That changed in 2016, of all places. In the 32nd district, not Donald Trump, but Hillary Clinton was just ahead after the presidential election.
Since Barack Obama left the White House, the Democrats have had one problem: They lack charismatic leaders. Traditionally, the leaders of the Democrats in the Senate and House of Representatives are the top Democrats when they are not the President. But Chuck Schumer, who heads the Democrats in the Senate, gives his speeches as if he were reading the congressional telephone directory to his audience, that's so sleepy. And his colleague Nancy Pelosi, at 78 years older than Schumer, a good ten years older, also sprays no longer just with energy and drive.
One who might be able to remedy this would be Beto O'Rourke, who is trying to win one of the two senatorial posts for the Democrats in Texas. That alone has made him a national star.
At 46, he is old enough not to be labeled as inexperienced. He is also eloquent, agile, smart, quick-witted, which means that he regularly has to rent larger rooms for the many people who want to see him. He is being traded as the Democrats' new Kennedy. And like Obama did a decade ago, he managed to finance a large part of his election campaign with the help of a grassroots campaign. Should he win against incumbent Republican Ted Cruz - which is possible but not necessarily likely - he could probably choose which role to take on in the Senate.
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