The United States midterm general election will be held on November 4, 2014. The 2014 election will offer the governorship of 36 states, 36 seats on the U.S. Senate and 435 seats on the U.S. House of Representatives.
Traditionally, midterm elections tend to go heavily against the party of sitting presidents, more so during the second midterm of a presidency (sixth year). In the past 100 years, all second midterms, with the exception of 1998, saw the opposition party gaining seats in the Senate, House and state governorships.
With the House still firmly in the control of the Republican Party, a six seat swing in the now Democratic-majority Senate would hand control of both chambers to the GOP - effectively tying the hands of President Barack Obama for the last two years of his second term in office. Alternatively, a 17-seat swing in favor of the Democrats in the House would grant President Obama the support of the entire Congress.
The United States Senate, alongside the U.S. House of Representatives, is part of the United States Congress, the legislative branch of the federal government. Article One (Section 1 and Section 3) of the U.S. Constitution provides for the establishment, composition and election process of the U.S. Senate.
The U.S. Senate is headed by the Vice President of the United States, in his capacity as the President of the Senate, or in his absence, a President pro tempore. The person holds no direct vote in Senate proceedings, unless there is a tie.
Conceptually, the Senate is meant to preserve and defend the Union, as opposed to the House, which is tasked with preserving the rights and privileges of the states. Constitutionally, the Senate is charged with ratifying treaties, approving presidential appointments, and judging impeachment cases.
Senators, two from each state, must be citizens of the United States for no less than nine years at the time of his/her election, must be at least 30 years of age, and must be a resident of the state they represent. Prior to the ratification of the 17th Amendment on April 8, 1913, U.S. Senators were elected by state legislatures. However, Senators today are elected directly by the states’ citizens.
The term of office for each of the 100 Senators is six years. However, in order to preserve an element of continuity and prevent the development of power blocs inside the Senate, Senators are divided into three classes, and the elections of each class are conducted every two years.
To ensure the continuous representation of each state in the Senate, no two state senators belong in the same class. In the event of deaths, impeachments and resignations, state governors (except the governors of Alaska, Oregon, and Wisconsin) are required to appoint an interim senator until a special election, or the next scheduled election, is held.
The 100 U.S. Senators are divided into three equal classes, each consisting of between 33 to 34 Senators.
• Class 1:
Comprising of Senators whose terms begins in January 2013, and ends in January 2019
• Class 2:
Comprising of Senators whose terms begins in January 2009, and ends in January 2015
• Class 3:
Comprising of Senators whose terms begins in January 2011, and ends in January 2017
The 2014 senatorial election will feature thirty-three Class 2 Senators, along with three Class 3 seats formerly held by Senator Jim DeMint, Senator Tom Coburn and the late Senator Daniel Inouye of South Carolina, Oklahoma and Hawaii respectively.
The position of Governor in the United States dates back from the pre-independence period, when the British crown appointed Royal Governors to oversee and manage its interest in the colonies. Aided by a Privy Council, the office of the Royal Governor is viewed as possessing direct royal authority, backed by the might of the British Navy. The office grew gradually in strength and importance, and its authority expanded from trade and customs regulations to judicial matters and the enforcement of royal policies. By the early 18th century, provincial assemblies were created to further strengthen the executive authority of the Royal Governors, which by the middle of the century, had grown to eight. These assemblies also provided a measure of control against any possible abuses of power by the Royal Governors.
After independence, the office of Governor was established by the original 13 states to act as the chief executive of the local government. While there were several federal appointments during the early days of independence, the responsibility was soon taken over by state legislatures. Towards the middle of the 19th century, the elections of governors were decided by the citizenry, a practice that continues today. However, the individual states’ requirement and political evolution have rendered the process, criterion and scope of authority of the governors considerably varied.
Today, each of the 50 states elects a governor to lead the local government. While the role of governors is largely ceremonial, they are also seen as a symbol of the sovereignty of the states within the construct of the federal union.
These governors generally serve a four-year term, with the exception of New Hampshire and Vermont, where the term is only two years. However, in 13 American states, a governor may serve for an unlimited number of terms. Other states allow between one to four terms, although some have limitations on consecutive terms.
Gubernatorial elections are governed by the constitution of the individual states. In 2014, the citizens of 36 states will be going to the voting booth to elect their governors.
2014 Gubernatorial Election Map
Democratic held gubernatorial seat seat up for election (14)
Republican held gubernatorial seat up for election (22)
Independent held gubernatorial seat up for election (0)
Gubernatorial seat is not up for election in 2014 (14)