Three reasons why US midterm polls should matter to you

Brajesh Upadhyay, Washington
Published : 06:00, Oct 14, 2018 | Updated : 06:00, Oct 14, 2018

November's midterm elections will mark two years since Donald Trump's shock election victory – the first test of how his Republican party is faring in the eyes of the American public.A large number of Americans believe the upcoming midterm elections next month will be the most consequential elections in their lifetime, and primarily because of one man — Donald J Trump.
Even though President Trump is not on the ballot, a recent survey suggests that a majority of voters are looking at the Nov 6 elections as a referendum on Trump's policies and not just as another battle for the control of US Congress.
According to the survey, 58 percent of voters will be drawn to the polling booths simply because of their like or dislike for Mr Trump.
All 435 members of the House of Representatives, 35 seats in the 100-member Senate and 36 out of 50 state governors, along with many state and local offices will be voted on in November. Republicans hold a majority currently in both chambers of the Congress and they have a Republican President in the White House.
The Democrats are hopeful of a "blue wave" against Trump's policies and If Republicans lose control of even one chamber of the Congress, this will be seen as a rejection of his agenda and will most likely shape the contours for his next two years in the White House.
To a distant observer, this may look like another episode in America's ongoing domestic political drama, but observers suggest the stakes could not be higher for the rest of the world. The results of these elections will to a great extent define the direction America will take in the coming months and years.
So if you are in Bangladesh, there are at least three reasons why you should be watching the US midterm elections closely.
A "zero tolerance" policy on immigration was President Trump's major campaign promise and he believes his administration's tough stance against undocumented immigrants will propel his party to victory.
He has urged Republican lawmakers to wait until after the midterms to pass and immigration reform legislation. If Republicans regain the control of the House and the Senate, it will be seen as an endorsement of his tough posture by Republican voters and will accordingly reflect in new immigration policies.
It may lead to doing away with policies like "chain migration" that has benefitted large number of Bangladeshis in the past. It may also hamper hopes for millions of immigrants who were brought to the US as children without documents. Democrats believe the president's hardline rhetoric against immigrants will backfire and will help them entice minorities as well as moderates to the polling booths.
Trade and Foreign Policy
Trump's "Make America Great Again" and "America First" policy can broadly be defined as an anti-globalist inwards looking America with emphasis on economic protectionism.
He has repeatedly railed against global trade deals, focussed on reciprocity in trade and weaponised tariffs to bring both allies and adversaries to the negotiating table.
While some of these steps have appeared to harm his core support base, particularly farmers, it hasn't yet incurred any major political damage to the Republicans. If that changes and Republican candidates suffer losses in belts that brought Trump to power, it may lead to some re-contouring of the agenda.
Trade wars with China, Europe or India will in the long run have an adverse impact on rest of the world, including Bangladesh, but a Republican success will be seen as an approval of his policies on the domestic front and encourage a harder posture. In terms of foreign policy, be it with Russia, Iran, North Korea or China, taking unilateral decisions will be difficult in a Democrat-controlled Congress.
Climate Change
The latest UN report on climate change paints a far more dire picture of the consequences of rising temperature than previously thought and coastal areas like Bangladesh will be the most severely hit by the crisis.
Trump has not only withdrawn from the Paris Climate Accord, he has aggressively moved towards doing away with regulations intended to protect the environment, calling it "unnecessary and outdated barriers to growth."
The midterm election results are expected to go a long way in shaping both state-level and national policies in this area. A win for Republicans will be seen as a victory for climate change sceptics and likely to set back any prospects for a policy that's in sync with the rest of the world.
Experts believe that lack of American leadership and resources in mitigating the impact of global warming will have serious consequences, particularly for the developing world.