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Head to head: Seven interesting races to watch in the US midterms

Some of the races are virtually tied in the polls – can the Democrats flip enough seats to take back the House?

Midterm Option 2 (1)

NEXT WEEK, citizens in the United States will go to the polls to decide on the make-up of their houses of Congress, governorships and local legislatures.

Two years on from Donald Trump’s election as president, the results of the midterm elections will provide a good insight into the political state of play in the country.

Here are just a few of the interesting races to keep an eye on as the seats are filled next week.

Texas Senate – Republican Ted Cruz vs Democrat Beto O’Rourke

Texas is known as a red state and Republicans are fired up about the treatment of Brett Kavanaugh during the Supreme Court confirmation process. So, former presidential candidate Ted Cruz has a very good chance.

Beto O'Rourke (top) and Ted Cruz (underneath) will go head to head. Source: PA

That said, his opponent Beto O’Rourke has built up a quite a following – he has been strongly critical of Trump and supported the ‘take a knee’ NFL protest. 

He has also managed rack up a war chest of $39 million from small grassroots contributions. O’Rourke has rejected donations from wealthy lobbying interests. 

At the moment, Cruz has a seven point lead and is leading consistently. The GOP has held the state for 30 years so this will be an important one for the party. 

Nevada Senate – Republican Dean Heller vs Democrat Jacky Rosen 

Source: John Locher/PA

Heller was described recently by The Guardian newspaper as “the most vulnerable Republican incumbent”. He has in the past voted against legislation to limit gun magazine capacity and against a ban on assault weapons.

He also once hosted a campaign rally at a Vegas gun store. He has however been criticised by some in the Republican base for stating last year that he has “no problem” funding Planned Parenthood.

His opponent Jacky Rosen is a first term congresswoman who is hoping to capitalise on the strong vote for Hillary Clinton in the State two years ago.

A recent New York Times poll put Heller just two points ahead of Rosen, so it could go either way on the day.

Georgia gubernatorial race – Republican Brian Kemp vs Democrat Stacey Abrams

Abrams, former state House Minority Leader, is seeking to become the first black woman to serve as state governor. She is likely to do well in Atlanta where residents are generally liberal but the rest of Georgia is traditionally very Republican.

Speaking of very Republican, Kemp called himself a politically incorrect conservative and held a shotgun in his campaign ad. He also said he owns a big truck in case he needs to “round up criminal illegals and take ‘em home myself”.

“Yep I just said that,” he added.

Source: Conservative1001BG/YouTube

According to an NBC News poll published last week, politically incorrect Kemp only holds a two percentage point edge over Abrams. Another close one. 

Kansas’ 3rd congressional district – Republican Kevin Yoder vs Democrat Sharice Davids 

Yoder has been in office since 2011 but the National Republican Congressional Committee recently cancelled a $1 million ad buy for him which could be a sign he’s in trouble. 

Davids is a lawyer and a former martial arts fighter.

Source: PA

If she wins, she will be the first Native American woman in the country to make it to Congress and the State’s first openly LGBTQ representative. She has raised nearly $4 million, mostly from individual donors.

Davids is currently polling better than Yoder, so this is one of the States the Democrats are hoping to flip next week. 

Kentucky’s 6th congressional district – Republican Andy Barr vs Democrat Amy McGrath

Barr has been in office since 2013 and many counties in the State overwhelmingly voted Trump in 2016. He is a solid supporter of the President – and has his “strong endorsement”.

Tweet by @Donald J. Trump Source: Donald J. Trump/Twitter

McGrath, a veteran, is the first woman to fly a combat mission for the Marines. She is new to politics but she has managed to rise more than $6 million, mainly from small donors. 

There was just one point between them in the most recent New York Times poll.

Virginia’s 7th congressional district – Republican Dave Brat vs Democrat Abigail Spanberger

A former college professor, Brat has been in office for four years and is a member of the hyper conservative group of House Republicans, the House Freedom Caucus.

This group regularly challenges the Republican leadership in a bid to move policy further to the right.

Spanberger is a former federal law enforcement officer and CIA operative – something which could sway moderate Republicans who are unhappy with some of Trump’s positions and want to send a message.

Source: Abigail Spanberger for Congress/YouTube

The two are virtually tied in the polls.

California’s 39th congressional district – Republican Young Kim vs Democrat Gil Cisneros

The Democrats are likely to do well in California but Cisneros’ campaign was hit by controversy when he was accused of drunkenly propositioning fellow Democrat Melissa Fazil, to trade a donation to her own campaign for sex.

He strongly denied the allegations and Fazil later recanted, saying she had misunderstood the conversation.

Tweet by @Melissa Fazli Source: Melissa Fazli/Twitter

 The claims have been the subject of attack ads by the Republicans and may stick in the minds of voters. 

As for Kim, the child of an immigrant family herself, she has not been afraid to distance herself from Trump’s anti-immigration stance. 

In a recent poll, there was only 4% between them, with Kim ahead. 

Currently the Republicans have a majority in both the House and the Senate so the big question now is whether they will manage to hold onto that power after next Tuesday. 

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