In pictures: America goes to polls to decide if it is for or against Trump

Americans head to the polls

For many Americans, Tuesday's congressional midterm elections are a referendum on Republican President Donald Trump’s divisive persona, hard-line policies and pugnacious politics.

The entire House of Representatives and a third of the Senate are up for grabs.

Tug of war over key issues

Immigration, health care, jobs. The extraordinary US midterm election has been a tug of war over key issues, but none has had a more dramatic impact on voters than Donald Trump, the man who isn't even on the ballot.

Both parties increasingly view state laws and executive action as pivotal to shaping the debate around national issues such as healthcare, gun control and abortion rights.

 

Early predictions

Republicans are expected to keep control of the Senate. But Democrats are widely favoured to win the 23 seats they need to assume control of the House of Representatives. 

The Republican Party is defending dozens of seats in largely suburban districts where Trump’s popularity has languished and Democrats have performed well in presidential races.

Trumps's strategy

Trump embarked on a three-state tour in the Midwest on Monday, holding rallies in Ohio, Indiana and Missouri.

He has a clear strategy: drive Republican turnout by painting a dark, apocalyptic vision of life in America under Democrats, while fanning fears over illegal immigration. He casts his rivals as an angry, liberal and dangerous "mob" and plays up gains in the economy.

Former US President Barack Obama

Former US President Barack Obama warned on Friday against rhetoric he said was meant to sow fear as he campaigned in support of Democratic candidates while President Donald Trump hammered a hardline anti-immigration message to energize Republicans.

Obama hit on a common theme of Democratic campaigns - defending his signature 2010 healthcare law, while urging Americans not to embrace hostility and division in politics.

Women candidates

A record number of women also are running for state office this year, mostly on the Democratic side.

Several competitive governor's races feature women candidates, including Democrats Abrams in Georgia, Laura Kelly in Kansas, Janet Mills in Maine, Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan, Michelle Lujan Grisham in New Mexico and Kate Brown in Oregon and Republicans Kim Reynolds in Iowa and Kristi Noem in South Dakota.

Favorable states

States with legislatures where Democrats see a chance at gaining control include Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota and New Hampshire. In a particularly strong year, Democrats think they could also pick up chambers in Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Republicans are targeting several narrowly divided legislatures where just a seat or two would give the party a voice in potential Democratic strongholds, such as New York and Connecticut.

If Democrats win

Besides stymieing the Trump agenda, a Democratic victory in the House could allow Democrats to launch multiple committee investigations of the Trump administration and possibly even impeachment proceedings.

For Democrats, greater power in the states would allow them to push back against Trump and Republicans even if Democrats fail to gain control of the US Congress.

Hispanics motivated to vote

Hispanics are more interested in voting this year than in the last US congressional midterm elections in 2014 and their enthusiasm outpaces that of all US adults.

Just over half, 53 per cent, of likely Hispanic voters said they were "very motivated" to pick a candidate for Congress who opposes Trump, compared with 43 percent of all likely voters, 75 per cent of likely Democratic voters and 9 percent of likely Republican voters.