Polling stations in the eastern US states have opened, with voters set to decide whether Republicans or Democrats will control Congress. The vote is seen as a referendum on Donald Trump’s presidency.
Polling stations in several East Coast states were the first to open on Tuesday as people in the US began casting their votes in critical midterm elections.
Interest in this year’s midterm elections is higher than ever, and this is the first major test by voters of Donald Trump’s presidency.Republicans are concerned about maintaining their majority in Congress over the Democrats.
What’s at stake:
- All 435 seats in the House of Representatives, the lower house of Congress, are up for grabs.
- A total of 35 seats are at stake in the 100-member Senate.
- Another 36 states will also elect governors as well as numerous seats in their state legislatures.
- Should the Democrats gain control of one or both houses of Congress, Republicans worry that President Trump’s political agenda will be blocked over the next two years.
Key races to watch:
Texas — Incumbent Republican Senator Ted Cruz is facing off against progressive Democrat Beto O’Rourke in a battle for reliably Republican Texas. O’Rourke has drawn enthusiastic support from people in Texas’ major cities, while Cruz has been doing better in the state’s massive rural areas.
Florida — The state’s former Governor Rick Scott is running to unseat Democrat Senator Bill Nelson, with gun control issues dominating the debate. The race to replace Scott as governor has also been tight — with Democrat Andrew Gillum hoping to become the state’s first African-American governor. Gillum is facing off against Republican Ron DeSantis, who is a big Trump supporter.
Arizona — No matter which candidate the voters choose, one thing is clear — Arizona is getting its first woman senator. Two women are competing for the spot, Republican Martha McSally and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema.
Georgia — Many will also be watching the race for governor in the southern state of Georgia. Democrat Stacey Abrams is running against Republican Brian Kemp. Should Abrams win, she would become the first African-American woman to be a governor of a US state. Kemp faces allegations that he attempted to prevent thousands of black voters from casting their ballots.
What time do polls close? Polls will begin to close at 6 p.m. EST (2300 GMT) in Kentucky, but voting in many key states will be closing around 7 p.m., including in Georgia, Indiana and Virginia. Results from other key states like Texas, Michigan and Pennsylvania will begin to roll in between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. The last batch of states will close their polls at 1 a.m. EST on Wednesday night.
Record numbers of early voters: At least 36.4 million people voted early in this year’s midterms, according to data from 49 states. In certain states, the number of ballots from early voters exceeded the total number of ballots for the last midterm election in 2014.
What are the key issues? Both Trump critics and supporters are keen to make their opinions known in the polls about the controversial US leader’s first two years in office. Immigration, the economy, women’s rights issues, race and other cultural issues are weighing heavy on voters’ minds.
Why Europe is closely watching the US vote: While US midterm elections typically do not generate great interest abroad, Germany and others in the European Union are paying close attention, since the outcome could have a significant impact on Trump’s foreign policy. Experts told DW that should the Democrats gain control of Congress, the win could push Trump to focus more on foreign policy since his domestic agenda will be met with more roadblocks.