Each week, The Spokesman-Review examines one question from the Naturalization Test immigrants must pass to become United States citizens.

Today’s question: Why do U.S. representatives serve shorter terms than U.S. senators?

When the Constitution created the House of Representatives and the Senate, the founders had a vision.

The House would be larger, more diverse and more representative of the people. The Senate would be a smaller body where meaningful debate could take place.

To help the U.S. House more closely follow public opinion, representatives in the House serve shorter, two-year terms than the Senate’s longer, six-year terms.

A changing public opinion means that the membership of the U.S. House of Representatives changes often, and that most midterm elections end with the party in power losing a significant number of seats.

This year, however, things could look a little different. As of Saturday evening, Democrats retained control of the Senate after days of uncertainty, while control of the House was still up in the air as the outcomes in a number of key races across the country were still being decided.

Cornell Clayton.

“By any historical standard, this is a huge victory for Democrats,” said Cornell Clayton, director of the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service at Washington State University.

As of Saturday, the number of seats Democrats will lose remained unclear, but Clayton said it likely will be much lower than the average.

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