Quiz: What Do You Know About U.S. Midterm Elections?

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Ariel Skelley/Getty Images
Ariel Skelley/Getty Images

Halfway through every presidential term, the United States holds its midterm elections. The results can reshape the country's political map, alter one party's power, and perhaps send a president's administration into gridlock. Test your knowledge of midterms with this quiz.

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QUESTION 1 OF 10

Of the House of Representative's 435 seats, how many are up for grabs in November 2018?
all of them
The House consists of 435 representatives. Every two years, each of those seats is up for grabs.
half of them
100

QUESTION 2 OF 10

Why does the U.S. have midterm elections?
This is how it was done in England.
It serves as a referendum on the president.
Not all elected offices have the same length of service.
House of representatives serve two-year terms, while senators serve six years, so someone's term is always coming due at midterms.

QUESTION 3 OF 10

Why did the Founding Fathers not make all term lengths for government representatives the same?
That was the way it was done in England.
They had trust issues.
The Founding Fathers worried that senators might get too chummy during their long terms so they staggered which senate seats were up for re-election. And they felt that short terms in the House made them more accountable to voters.
George Washington insisted on this.

QUESTION 4 OF 10

In order to retake the majority in the House, how many seats do the Democrats need to flip in 2018?
23
Democrats will need to pick up 23 seats to take control of the House.
69
38

QUESTION 5 OF 10

In general, how does voter turnout in midterm elections compare to presidential elections?
Turnout is generally lower.
Midterms don't have the same glamorous appeal of presidential elections, so voter turnout is almost always lower. Usually, less than 40 percent of registered voters showed up for midterms, versus 56 percent for presidential elections.
Turnout is often higher.
Turnout is almost exactly the same.

QUESTION 6 OF 10

They are the few, the proud … the senators. How many senate seats are up for election in November 2018?
13
35
Each state elects two senators, but their six-year terms are staggered as we said earlier. In 2018, there are 35 Senate seats at stake, including two special elections. Usually the number is 33 or 34 in each election cycle.
all 100

QUESTION 7 OF 10

Which two states always have gubernatorial elections during both midterm and general elections?
New Hampshire and Vermont
Governors in these two states serve only two-year terms, unlike the other 48 where governors serve four-year terms.
Alabama and Hawaii
Iowa and Nebraska

QUESTION 8 OF 10

What almost always happens during midterm elections in the United States?
The president typically consolidates power throughout the country.
Things remain how they were before, politically.
The president's party tends to lose at least some power.
It's the cycle of politics, over and over again. One party wins the presidency, and the voters often revolt against the commander-in-chief's policies — so the president's party tends to lose seats in Congress during midterms.

QUESTION 9 OF 10

Which president was the last to buck the party trend and actually gain seats in both the House and Senate during midterm elections?
Warren Harding
George W. Bush
The 9/11 attacks of 2001 caused a political ripple effect around the world. George W. Bush rode a combination of patriotism (and color-coded terrorism alerts) to great success in the 2002 midterms, as the GOP gained eight House seats and two Senate seats.
Gerald Ford

QUESTION 10 OF 10

Which president suffered the biggest midterm reversal?
Grover Cleveland
Cleveland's Democrats lost a whopping 116 House seats in the 1894 midterms. Voters punished his party for a big economic depression taking place at the time.
Herbert Hoover
George H.W. Bush

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