Americans head to the polls Tuesday for a chance either to keep the Republicans in control of the House of Representatives and Senate or to shake up the political landscape with a Democratic takeover.
Democrats are currently forecast to win the House but not the Senate. But as the 2016 U.S. presidential race showed, polls can get it wrong.
Historically, the party of the sitting president has nearly always lost seats in the House. The Cook Political Report said this has occurred in 35 of the 38 midterm elections held since the U.S. Civil War ended in 1865.
Barack Obama’s Democrats lost 63 House seats during the midterm in 2010, while the Republicans lost 30 seats during George W. Bush’s second term in 2006.
“Presidents virtually always lose seats in the midterms,”John McAndrews, a researcher in U.S. politics at the University of Toronto, said. “It’s kind of thought as a referendum on presidents.”
If the Democrats win the House, will they impeach U.S. President Donald Trump?
WATCH: Biden still not ruling out 2020 run, says Democrats should not try to impeach Trump if they win House
Yes, but it would be ‘dangerous’
The U.S. Constitution states that the president can be removed from office after being both impeached and convicted for “Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
Last year, a half-dozen Democrats introduced articles of impeachment against Trump, accusing him of obstruction of justice related to the FBI investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. But Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi issued a statement saying that it was not the time to consider articles of impeachment.
McAndrews said the Democrats could “technically” impeach Trump if they took over the House.
“Democrats could proceed with this, but there are many hurdles ahead after this step. The chances of a president being removed from official are small to nil.”
To impeach a president, the House needs a simple majority vote to charge Trump with a crime. But then the action heads to the Senate, which the Dems are not predicted to gain control of. To fully remove Trump from office, the Senate needs to vote two-thirds in favour of it.
WATCH: Nancy Pelosi says it’s very hard to impeach President Trump
McAndrews said no president has ever been removed from office. Only two presidents have been impeached, Bill Clinton in 1998 and Andrew Johnston in 1868.
He said the Democrats have avoided using the “impeachment” term on the campaign trail for a reason — it could turn voters off.
“Actually voting to impeach, that would be a big leap,” he said, adding that the Democrats are probably weary after the Clinton experience, as his impeachment backfired on the Republicans.
Ryan Hurl, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Toronto, agreed, saying if the Democrats wanted to impeach Trump, it would be dangerous.
“They could be tempted to say that the public wants an impeachment process based on uncertain claims, but I don’t think the public wants that. I think it will actually be an advantage to Trump is they pursue impeachment,” he said.
Dems may ramp up investigations instead
Instead of impeachment, McAndrews said Democrats are more likely to increase investigations against the White House and Russians.
“There is likely going to be an uptick in investigations,” he said. “The Dems would convene more committees to hold hearings into these investigations.”
Those investigations include whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.
WATCH: Trump says he’ll blame supporters for not voting if he is impeached.
— With files from Global News’ Rahul Kalvapalle