October 27, 2010 / 8:22 PM / 9 years ago

Factbox: Elections for Congress, state, local offices

(Reuters) - Voters across the United States go to the polls next Tuesday to elect senators and representatives to Congress in Washington, as well as state governors and lawmakers and local officials.

While President Barack Obama is not on the ballot, the midterm election is in many ways a referendum on his presidency, which is under pressure from voters unhappy with his handling of the weak economy and high unemployment.

Thousands of communities will elect mayors and city and county officials, judges, sheriffs and fill other local offices.

In many areas, voters will also voice their opinions on specific initiatives — from raising or cutting state and local taxes to California’s question of whether marijuana should be legalized and taxed.

Here are the numbers:


* Senate - Thirty-seven of the seats are up for election, of which 19 are now held by Democrats and 18 by Republicans. In the 100-seat chamber, Democrats now control 59 seats to 41 for Republicans. Republicans are expected to gain seats but neither party is expected to win the 60 needed to stop the other from blocking legislation with the tactic known as a filibuster. One-third of the Senate is elected every two years for six-year terms.

* House of Representatives - All 435 seats are up for election for two-year terms. Democrats now hold 255 seats to 178 for the Republicans, with two vacancies. Republicans look set to surpass the magic 218 seats needed to wrest the majority from Democrats.

In both chambers, the majority party determines what and when legislation is brought to a vote and chairs all committees.


* Governors - Elections in 37 states, of which 19 are now held by Democrats and 18 by Republicans. Only 13 governors are seeking re-election. Democrats are expected to wind up with fewer than their current 26 governorships to 24 for Republicans.

* State legislatures - Variations in state election laws and state governments mean 46 states are holding elections for 88 of 99 state chambers. Democrats now hold an edge in state legislatures but Republicans are expected to make inroads.

Party control of governorships and state legislatures takes on national importance this year, when states get to redraw U.S. congressional districts. The party in power can set boundaries to favor its candidates in elections for the next decade.


* Ballot measures - Local initiatives and referendum elections will be presented to voters in 36 states. Most concern changes in tax laws, bond issues, state budgets or government administration.

California’s Proposition 19 would legalize marijuana for personal use and permit local governments to tax it. Several other states are considering changes in marijuana laws as well as rules on hunting, animal rights and liquor sales.

Reporting by Jackie Frank; Editing by John O'Callaghan

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