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Election Day: New President, Senate, 12 Governors, and Thousands of Officials | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Republican Candidate Donald Trump and Democrat Candidate Hillary Clinton. (Reuters)

Washington – As the U.S. presidential race enters its final hours, a battle for Congress is also happening in addition to the election for governors and thousands of local officials.

Americans are voting for 34 of the U.S. Senate’s 100 seats and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives.

Democrats need four seats to regain control of the Senate and 30 seats to regain control of the House. Both houses are currently under the control of Republicans, but it looks as though Democrats have good chances in winning over.

Last week, it seemed that Democrats reclaimed the Senate, but then FBI Director James Comey announced the discovery of new emails that might be pertinent to an earlier probe of Clinton’s private email server. This led polls to change and difference between the candidates tightened.

Republicans have 59-seat majority in the 435-member House of Representatives. Analysts say it would take a so-called “wave election”, when one party makes major gains in Congress, for Democrats to flip the 30 seats needed to retake control.

As for the Senate, Democrats need to gain four seats for a majority of 100. In the event Clinton wins the White House, ties in the Senate are broken by the vice president.

George Washington University professor of applied politics Gary Nordlinger said: “In isolated cases, it may allow some Republicans in close races to win re-election by distancing from Trump.”

He added that it is a “double-edged sword” since Trump is wildly popular among his base, so Republicans would risk alienating that base when they try to distance themselves.

The Cook Political Report stated Tuesday morning that Democrats will take back their majority and win – four to six – Senate seats.

The year 2016 was a tough year for the Republicans. Of the Senate’s 34 seats contested in 2016, 24 are held by Republicans and of the nine closest Senate races, only one, in Nevada, is held by a Democrat.

Illinois and New Hampshire are likely to flip to the Democrats.

North Carolina and Pennsylvania could tip to Democratic with tougher but still viable battles in Florida and Indiana.

In Missouri, Republican Senator Roy Blunt risks losing to Jason Kander, a Democratic military veteran whose campaign video of himself assembling an AR-15 rifle while blindfolded has gone viral.

“We know that it will be a tough challenge to keep the Senate in this environment, but if Democrats want the majority, they are going to have a hell of a fight on their hands,” Ian Prior of the Senate Leadership Fund said.

According to the website Ballotpedia, 165 statewide ballot initiatives will be up for a vote on November 8, and 35 states will be offering initiatives. About 205 million people could be affected by the initiatives. And 71 of the ballot measures were started by citizens.