On the eve of the U.S. midterm elections, most polls predict that the Democratic Party will make gains in the House of Representatives, but will have a hard time stopping the Republican Party from maintaining or consolidating its hold on the Senate.
Up for grabs are 435 seats in the House of Representatives, 35 seats in the Senate and 36 governors’ positions. The Republicans currently hold a majority in both the House and the Senate.
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It’s an election that could determine the landscape of U.S. politics for years to come. Here’s a look at the most likely outcome according to polls:
House of Representatives
A total of 218 seats are required for a party to wrest control of the House. The Republican Party currently has 235.
An analysis of three major political forecasts — from the Cook Political Report, Inside Elections and the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics — concluded that 65 of the 435 seats are Democratic-leaning or tightly fought, and that the odds of the Democratic candidate winning increased in 48 of them.
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Online poll analysis service FiveThirtyEight gives the Democrats a seven in eight chance of winning control of the House.
The most likely gain expected for the Democrats was pegged at 39 seats, although there’s a 10 per cent chance they’d pick up 60 seats or more, and a 10 per cent chance that they’d suffer a disappointing result and gain 20 seats or less.
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Politico considered up-to-date polling data, historical trends and analysis of campaign strategies, concluding that the Democrats and Republicans can count on 172 and 132 “solid” seats.
The next best rating to “solid” under Politico’s analysis is “likely,” and the Republicans were assessed to have 32 likely seats while the Democrats are likely to pick up 20 seats.
Adding up the solid, likely and lean seats leaves the Democrats with 216 (172 solid) and the Republicans with 197 (132 of them solid). If that prediction holds, the Democrats would only need to pick up two of the 22 “toss-up” seats to secure a majority in the lower chamber of Congress.
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Crosstab, a political forecasting blog run by The Economist data journalist Elliott Morris, gives the Democrats a 79 per cent chance of winning a House majority. Crosstab found that the odds of a Democrat House takeover have increased moderately since July.
If Crosstab’s election simulations hold true, the Democrats will walk away with a handy majority of 229 seats, while the Republicans will drop from 235 seats down to 206.
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Democratic gains would hardly come as a shock — the Cook Political Report points out that the party of the sitting president has lost House seats in 35 of the 38 midterm elections held since the U.S. Civil War ended in 1865.
While most polls paint a rosy picture for the Democrats when it comes to the House, it gives them little chance of making significant gains in the Senate.
The Senate comprises 100 seats, but only 35 of them are up for grabs this midterm election cycle — and Democrats already hold 26 of them.
If the Democrats want to even dream of taking the Senate, they’d likely need to retain all 26 seats that they currently hold, as well as defeat a couple of Republicans in order to get to the 51 seats required to claim a majority.
What’s more, 10 of the presently Democrat-held seats are in states that Trump carried in the 2016 presidential election.
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The state of West Virginia strongly exemplifies the challenge facing the Democrats. West Virginia elected a Democratic senator in Joe Manchin, but that was back in 2012, when Barack Obama hadn’t even begun his second term as president yet.
The 2016 presidential election saw West Virginians backing Trump in a big way, with 68 per cent of the vote.
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As of last month, Trump enjoyed a 62 per cent approval rating in West Virginia, the highest of any state, according to Morning Consult.
Two other key Democrat-held states, Missouri and Indiana, are also at serious risk of flipping red, according to Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a nonpartisan election analysis project based in the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.
FiveThirtyEight gives the Democrats only a 16.8 per cent chance of winning control of the Senate, with the Republicans deemed heavy favourites at 83.2 per cent. Indeed the Democrats’ hopes of gaining more than two seats was pegged at only 10 per cent.
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Politico is similarly pessimistic about the chances of a Democratic takeover. Adding up its “solid,” “likely” and “lean” seat assessments would leave the GOP with a total of 50 seats and the Democrats with 45. That means the Republicans would only need to pick up one of the five “toss-up” seats to maintain their majority.
The Republicans are likely to increase their Senate presence from 51 seats to 52, according to Sabato’s Crystal Ball.
CNN reported that multiple races appear to be slipping away from the Democrats including North Dakota and Tennessee but also Texas, where emerging liberal hero Beto O’Rourke has managed to raise huge amounts of money, but still lags behind in the polls in a state that hasn’t elected a Democratic senator in 30 years.
So low is the confidence in a shock Democrat takeover of the Senate that not a single poll or forecast accessed by Global News on the eve of Election Day predicts a Democratic Senate majority.
Are the predictions reliable?
President Donald Trump’s win in the 2016 presidential election left many people questioning whether polls and forecasts can be trusted, according to William Galston, a chair in governance studies and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
However, Galston says national surveys were actually closer to the final outcome in 2016 than they were in 2012, adding that the dearth of state-level polls was to blame for wide-held confidence in a Hillary Clinton victory.
Galston also wrote that many 2016 poll models went wrong because they mis-predicted voter turnout, failing to take into account the mobilization of blue-collar workers and other infrequent voter demographics who were energized by Trump’s campaign.
READ MORE: If Trump’s Republicans win midterms, buckle up: former Republican
However, a record advance voting turnout across the political spectrum — the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the 1960s — is likely to have been better accounted-for going into the midterms, with Trump and his support demographics no longer unknowns to pollsters.
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Bettors predicting on the midterm elections also appear to be siding with polls and forecasters.
On PredictIt, a New Zealand-based political predictions market with offices in Washington, D.C., the most widely betted-on scenarios are for the Democrats to take control of the House and the Republicans to manage keeping the Senate.
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The closer America gets to Election Day, the further President Trump has moved away from his Oct. 31 assessment to ABC News, in which he said, “I think we feel pretty good about the House.”
On Sunday, Trump appeared to distance himself from responsibility if the Republicans lose control of the House, aligning himself more closely with the Senate battle which Republicans are predicted to win anyway according to every major poll.
“As you know, my primary focus has been on the Senate, and I think we’re doing really well in the Senate,” Trump said.
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali
Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.
In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.
“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.
“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”
“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.
Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”
Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”
“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.
He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”
As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our
country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.
The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”
On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.
Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu
RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA
Harris accepts VP nomination
Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”
Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”
“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”
“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.
That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”
Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”
Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself
The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.
In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.
“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m
The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.
The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.
But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.
West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.
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