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Midterm Elections in the US

Published: 05.11.2010, Updated: 04.03.2017
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Have you seen pictures in the newspaper lately of President Obama? Perhaps you have even seen pictures of an elephant in red and a donkey in blue? What do you think these two animals represent? Do you know what the two colors represent? What comes to mind when you think of a donkey and an elephant? (You’ll find the answers at the end of the text.)

Election Day

Barack Obama. Photo.The newly elected Barrack Obama looking confident. Some of his popularity has faded giving the Republicans more influence. Election Day is the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Presidential elections are held every four years, and as President Obama is half way into his four year term, this election is referred to a midterm election. Midterm elections are equally important and include national congressional elections (representatives and senators) and local gubernatorial elections (governors).


Congress consists of two chambers: the House of Representatives (435 seats) and the Senate (100 seats). All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for election every two years. The number of representatives for each state is based on population, therefore states like California and Texas elect more representatives than smaller states like Rhode Island and Delaware. The Senate is more balanced as each state has two senators regardless of state size. Every other year a third (1/3) of the 100 seats are up for election. Senators serve a six year term. On a state level 37 states will be electing governors who sit a 4 year term.

Political Parties

The US has two major political parties; Democrats and Republicans. As President Barack Obama is a Democrat, it is in his best interest that his party remains in control in both chambers. Losing a majority in either chamber will make it more difficult for him to move forward with his overall plans.


The results of this midterm election were as follows: the majority of the seats in the House of Representatives are now controlled by the Republicans while the Senate majority remains with the Democrats. This now means that the president will face a more uphill battle and will need to rely on support from the Senate.

Change of Heart

Why has the public who voted in a majority of Democrats and elected a Democratic president only two years ago changed sides? Well, the biggest issue in the country today is the economy. The financial crisis has hit the public hard leaving many unemployed or with little money to spare. Many have lost homes to foreclosure and others are struggling with issues like health care.

President Obama remains optimistic and only time will tell.



  1. Find out how many representatives the above mentioned states (California, Texas, Rhode Island and Delaware) have in Congress.
  2. Find out which state has the largest number of representatives.
  3. What is the opposite of the word "majority"?
  4. What does the word "foreclosure" mean?


Answer: The donkey and the color blue represent the Democratic party, while the elephant and the color red depict the Republicans. The reason for these two animals is unclear and dates back to the mid 1800’s. Whether you think a donkey is smart or stubborn, and an elephant strong or clumsy,  your guess is as good as mine.

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