Midterm U.S. elections have historically not been the most exciting elections to watch; voter apathy is normally high, and more often than not control shifts away from the president’s party. Yet the incredible polarization of the two political parties we are seeing today—reflecting the incredible polarization of the nation itself—has meant that this year’s midterms on November 8 are likely to have a much greater bearing on what the future holds than many others have had in more recent times. In this Economics Weekly, we look at the lay of the land, the expected outcome, and what’s at stake.

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Richard de Chazal, CFA, is a London-based macroeconomist covering the U.S. economy and financial markets.