HOUSTON, US — The outcome of next Tuesday's United States midterm elections will determine whether Democrats keep their majority in Congress or Republicans take over, but on a larger scale, they could help shape the 2024 presidential race.
The Democratic majority in the 435-member US House of Representatives is a small one: 220 Democratic members to 212 Republican members, with three vacant seats to be filled.
US House members are elected to two-year terms, so all 435 seats are up for grabs.
The US Senate is split 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaker in favor of Democrats.
Historically, the party of the president loses congressional seats in the midterms, so Republicans are chomping at the bit to let history play out and take over the majority.
If that scenario takes place, it will spell trouble for the administration of President Joe Biden when it comes to introducing and passing laws over the final two years of his four-year term.
"If Republicans take either chamber of Congress, they will stymie the Biden legislative agenda," said Allan Lichtman, professor of history at American University in Washington.
"They will also launch investigations of (Biden’s son) Hunter Biden and the Biden administration and close down the January 6 Committee,” he said. "If Republicans take the Senate, they will stall Biden’s judicial nominees.”
Lichtman told Anadolu Agency by e-mail that there are quite a few Senate seats that will likely decide control of the chamber.
"Vulnerable seats currently held by Democrats include Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Arizona. Vulnerable seats currently held by Republicans include Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, and Wisconsin," he added.
If Republicans gain control of both houses of Congress, President Biden and fellow Democrats are in for a rude awakening from their political adversaries.
"They (Republicans) will try to enact tax cuts, promotion of fossil fuels, and abortion restrictions," Lichtman said. "They will block any initiative of the Biden administration and stall his appointments."
"However, it still takes 60 votes in the Senate to block a filibuster, and Biden still has the veto," added Lichtman, who said a Republican majority in both houses does not necessarily spell doom. "It is not possible to govern only from Congress."
On the flip side, Democrats can keep pushing forward with their legislative agenda and give Biden a much-needed boost towards the 2024 presidential election.
"If Democrats keep both Houses, then Biden will get the approval for many judicial nominations," Lichtman said. "Democrats will try to force votes on key initiatives, such as the protection of abortion rights and the protection of voting rights."
Most state governor's races across the US will also be decided during the midterms.
Even though incumbent Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is favored to win, there is a lot more at stake than just a midterm victory, with DeSantis setting himself up for a 2024 Republican presidential run.
"DeSantis has positioned himself as a clone of Donald Trump, although without the mastery of showmanship," Lichtman said. "He has emphasized the cultural wars by championing so-called 'anti-woke' legislation to crack down on allegedly leftwing bias in teaching, and used state funds to ship migrants to Massachusetts."
"He championed the 'Don’t Say Gay' law to restrict references to sexual orientation in elementary and secondary schools and revoked Disney’s special taxing district," added Lichtman. "He suspended an election district attorney who had signed a pledge not to enforce anti-abortion laws."
However, DeSantis is walking a fine line if he plans to throw his hat into the ring for the Republican Party's presidential nominee.
Former President Donald Trump remains the apparent puppet master of the party, seemingly pulling all the strings leading up to 2024.
"Donald Trump is still the driving force in the Republican Party, even though he has jettisoned every principle that Republicans once claimed to stand for: personal morality, personal responsibility, fiscal restraint, limited government, and respect for traditional institutions," Lichtman said.
That being said, Lichtman is not sold on Trump being the face of the Republican Party heading into the 2024 presidential election.
"I believe that his legal troubles will make it unlikely that he could successfully run for president," he added.
That leaves Biden in the driver's seat for his re-election bid in 2024 regardless of the outcome of the Nov. 8 midterms.
"I don’t think the results of the midterm will have any influence on Biden’s decision to run for reelection. He is determined to run again and will do so if his health holds up," said Lichtman, which he explained is a positive step for the Democratic Party. "It will greatly enhance the Democrats’ prospects for holding on to the presidency if Biden runs again."
"According to my presidential prediction system, The Keys to the White House, it takes six negative keys to predict that the party holding the White House will lose the presidency," Lichtman said. "If Biden doesn’t run, the Democrats will lose two keys that they would otherwise hold: Incumbency, and an internal party fight for the presidential nomination."
Lichtman is known for his presidential prediction system, predicting Trump to win in 2016 and Biden in 2020.
As to where Lichtman stands on the 2024 presidential election: "Too early," he said. (Anadolu)