Dem 48
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Ties 2
GOP 50
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New polls: AZ CA FL MO NJ NV
Dem pickups vs. 2012: NV
GOP pickups vs. 2012: ND
TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Politico: Democrats Will Win House, Republicans Will Keep Senate
      •  What to Watch for on Tuesday
      •  Trump Closes with Anger
      •  Will There Be a Youth Wave?
      •  Early Turnout Was Huge This Year
      •  We May Never Know Who Won in Georgia and Texas
      •  We May Be Left in Suspense Tonight
      •  Today's Senate Polls

PW logo Extra Bonus Quote of the Day
Who Will Win the Senate?
Who Will Win the House?
Who Will Win the Governorships?
Democrats Flip Governor’s Office In Guam
Kemp Had Voting Issues In Georgia

Programming Note: We will be live-blogging the results, starting around 6:30 p.m. PST on Tuesday.

Politico: Democrats Will Win House, Republicans Will Keep Senate

Yesterday we had an item saying that Charlie Cook, Larry Sabato, and Nate Silver all predict the Democrats would win the House and the Republicans would hang onto the Senate. Today Politico, which is also tracking every House and Senate race individually, has come to the same conclusion. Politico sees Democrats leading in 216 House seats and the Republicans leading in 197, with the other 22 a toss-up. To hold the House, the Republicans would need to win nearly all of the toss-ups, a very tall order. It is possible, though: Historically, toss-ups don't break 50-50; one party generally wins a clear majority of them.

The toss-ups are spread around the country. There is a batch in Southern California, but also tight races in Minnesota, Texas, New Jersey, New York, Florida, and elsewhere. Everything depends on turnout and with storms expected in Midwest and the East today, some people may be deterred from voting, which could easily affect the outcome in close races. Here's the weather map:

weather map

The Senate is a horse of a different color simply due to the map. Democrats are in danger in North Dakota, Indiana, Missouri, and Florida. Republicans are in danger only in Nevada and Arizona, and just maybe in the open Tennessee seat. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (R-ND) is probably a dead woman walking, so to take the Senate the Democrats would have to hold all their other seats and also win Nevada, Arizona, and Tennessee. If they pulled it off, a lot of people would be very, very surprised.

On the other hand, the Democrats are probably going to do well in the gubernatorial races. They are almost certain to pick up Michigan, Illinois, and New Mexico. Another nine or so gubernatorial races are toss-ups, including a couple of biggies: Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Georgia. If a big blue wave materializes, despite the storms, Democrats could pick up as many as 10-12 governorships, and with them, the power to veto gerrymanders after the 2020 census. In a very big blue wave, the Democrats could also pick up as many as a dozen state legislative chambers.

After 2016, everyone is being a lot more cautious about predictions this time. That said, the unambiguous conventional wisdom going into the midterms is a Democratic House, a Republican Senate, and a large number of Democratic pickups in the governors' mansions without many (or any) of those flipping the other way. (V)

What to Watch for on Tuesday

If we categorize governors, representatives, and senators as "major" officeholders, then there are right around 500 major political contests tonight. The situation with the Senate races is fairly clear. If, say, four of Florida, Missouri, Arizona, Indiana, and Nevada go the Democrats' way, they had a good night on that front. If they go 4-for-5 or 5-for-5 in those races, and also take one or two states among Texas, Tennessee, and North Dakota, they had a fantastic night. On the other hand, if two or three among Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey, Florida, Missouri, and Indiana go the Republicans' way, they will be dancing in the streets, and Donald Trump will have blisters on his hands from all the self-congratulatory tweets he'll send out.

Beyond that, however, what races are worth watching? McClatchy, NBC News, The Guardian (UK), USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Fox News, Politico, WIRED, the Daily Caller, MSNBC, FiveThirtyEight, and CNN, among others, have articles or lists or videos that try to address that question. So, you can open all of those links and get a lay of the land. Alternatively, you can just read our cheat sheet:

The "canary in a coal mine" races—These are the races in the eastern part of the country that will likely give the first indications as to which way the winds are blowing on Tuesday:

  • Maine governor: Maine is purplish, with a strong independent streak, and a pretty conservative GOP governor in Paul LePage. He's not running again, so whether Shawn Moody (R) or Janet Mills (D) triumphs should hint at what direction centrist and independent voters, particularly white ones, are leaning.

  • VA-02, VA-05, VA-07, and VA-10: Respectively, these four are R+3, R+6, R+6, and D+1. All are represented by incumbent Republicans. The GOP has pretty much already written off VA-10 as a lost cause, but if two or three of the others flip, particularly by medium or large margins, that's a very bad sign for the GOP.

  • MI-08 and MI-11: Both are R+4; the former is held by an incumbent running for reelection (Mike Bishop) and the latter is open due to the incumbent Republican retiring (Dave Trott). What happens in these two districts should give some insight into how the Midwest is trending.

  • MN-03: Another key Midwestern race. It's held by a Republican, namely Erik Paulsen, who is running for reelection. However, it's D+1 and was won by Hillary Clinton by nine points. So, another useful barometer for where the Midwestern states are headed.

  • MN-08: This R+4 district is one of the small number of seats the GOP is favored to flip in their direction. If they do not, then it could mean no pickups at all for the red team.

  • NC-09: Republican Mark Harris knocked off the incumbent, Rep. Robert Pittenger (R), in the primary. The Democrats countered with Dan McCready, an Iraq war veteran and Harvard Business School graduate. In theory, the blue team should not be competitive in a district that is R+8, that Donald Trump won by 12 points, and that hasn't sent a Democrat to the House since JFK was president. But it could happen, according to polls.

  • OH-12: This is a rematch of the race that saw Rep. Troy Balderson (R) narrowly defeat Danny O'Connor (D) for the right to finish the last few months of Republican Pat Tiberi's term. Donald Trump's approval rating has dropped a bit in Ohio since then; will that be enough to give O'Connor a chance to win the R+7 district?

  • FL-26 and FL-27: Both of these districts are pretty solidly Democratic (D+6 and D+5, respectively) and both are pretty Latino. The former has an incumbent in Carlos Curbelo (R), in the latter Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) is retiring. The blue team drew strong candidates in both, in the persons of Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Donna Shalala. Shalala has the name recognition, due to her time as HHS Secretary, but Mucarsel-Powell is an immigrant (from Ecuador) and speaks Spanish (while Shalala does not). These seats are pretty much must-wins for the Democrats; if that does not come to pass, it may portend a blue splash rather than a blue wave.

  • PA-01: The Democrats hope to pick up as many as half a dozen seats in the Keystone State, due to changing political winds, not to mention a new district map. The Republican in the strongest position among those six districts is probably Brian Fitzpatrick, a former FBI agent and a centrist who has held Donald Trump at arm's length. Actually more like ten-foot-pole length. If Fitzpatrick goes down in the R+1 district, it's likely that the blue team gets most or all of the six seats they are aiming for.

  • GA-06: This is the R+8 district that attracted piles of money for Democrat Jon Ossoff, who narrowly lost to Rep. Karen Handel (R). If Lucy McBath (D), who is running primarily on gun control, manages to do what Ossoff could not, it will not be good news for either the GOP or the NRA.

The Healthcare Races—The Democrats' #1 issue this midterm season was healthcare. We want to protect it, they said, and the GOP wants to take it away. These races will give a sense of how well that message landed:

  • NJ-03: The R+2 district went for Barack Obama twice, but also for Trump by 6%. Rep. Tom MacArthur (R) took a leading role in securing passage of the House bill that would have repealed Obamacare (which John McCain, of course, ultimately helped scotch in the Senate). Will MacArthur be punished for this? It probably does not help him that he also used to be an insurance company executive.

  • IA-01: A D+1 district with a fair number of senior citizens, and another one where the Democrat (Abby Finkenauer) has talked about three things: healthcare, healthcare, and healthcare.

  • NJ-07: In this one, the Republican incumbent (Leonard Lance) is actually the one running on healthcare. He was one of the few Republicans to buck his party and vote against repealing Obamacare. Will that save him in this reddish (R+3) district?

  • Nevada and West Virginia Senate: Yes, we already mentioned the Senate races above, but in these two very different kinds of states (WV is R+19, NV is D+1), the Democrat (Joe Manchin and Jacky Rosen, respectively) has been talking mostly about healthcare. Their success, or lack thereof, should provide some valuable insight about this particular plank.

The Immigration Races—While the Democrats were running on healthcare, the Republicans were primarily running on immigration. Actually, opposition to immigration. These are the races that will help to judge the salience of that message:

  • NM-02: This R+6 seat, located along the Mexican border, was vacated by Republican Steve Pearce, and the major topic in the contest between Democrat Xochitl Torres Small and Republican Yvette Herrell has been immigration policy.

  • TX-23: Rep. Will Hurd (R) has decided what side his bread is buttered on, and came out against the Mexican wall. The district is only R+1, so hardly a GOP slam dunk. Still, if Hurd gets knocked off, no Republican will challenge Trump on the wall ever again.

  • TX-32: Another one that is near the border, and another race where immigration has been the main topic. Democrat Colin Allred, a civil rights attorney and former football player, seems to have the edge over 11-term incumbent Rep. Pete Sessions (R) in the R+5 district.

  • NY-01: It may be New York, but this particular district is R+5. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R) has been trying to save his job by talking endlessly about the link between immigration and gang violence.

The Racist Races—These are the races where candidates tried to profit off of other people's, well, races. We will see if, in 2018, that rouses older, less enlightened white folks to action, or if it spurs higher minority turnout:

  • Georgia governor: This has been one of the two most racially-charged governor's contests in recent memory, with supporters of Brian Kemp (R) doing all sorts of things to stir up racial animosity, like a fake robo-call from "Oprah Winfrey." There's also been much effort directed to denying people of color their right to vote.

  • Florida governor: And this is the other of the most racially-charged governor's contests in recent memory. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R) and his supporters have blown so many dog whistles in the direction of Andrew Gillum that the state's canines are going to need to be fitted for hearing aids.

  • NY-19: This one has been very ugly, with Republican John Faso using all sorts of dog whistles against Democrat Antonio Delgado, including snide remarks about his name and his past activities as a rap musician. The district is barely Republican, at R+2, and went for Obama twice and Trump once.

  • NY-22: This one has also seen a fair bit of less-than-enlightened rhetoric from Republican Claudia Tenney, who can't really attack her white opponent Anthony Brindisi (D), but who can say all manner of things about immigrants. The district is R+6.

  • IA-04: It is clear that the voters here have a certain tolerance for subtle racism, since they have elected Rep. Steve King (R) eight times, and he's never made a secret of his views. However, he's recently gone over-the-top with the overt embrace of white supremacism, which is too much for some of his constituents to swallow. Will that, plus a strong Democratic candidate in J.D. Scholten, be enough to flip an R+11 district?

The Trade War Races—These are the races that are particularly likely to show the effect of Donald Trump's tariffs, and so to perhaps give some insight into 2020:

  • Iowa Governor: No state has been hit harder by the tariffs, so far, than Iowa. Democrat Fred Hubbell has pointed this out a few times, particularly in commercials he's paid for with millions from his own bank account. On top of that, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) is not too popular, and only got her job when Terry Branstad resigned to become (ironically enough) ambassador to China. Iowa isn't all that red (R+3); we shall see if Reynolds becomes the first casualty of the trade war.

  • KY-06: KY-06 is pretty red (R+9), and Rep. Andy Barr (R) is an incumbent, but the Democrats have a strong candidate in former Marine Corps pilot Amy McGrath. Further, the two universities in this district, and the fact that the local bourbon distilleries have been hit hard by Donald Trump's tariffs could play into the blue team's hands.

  • WA-08: One word: Boeing.

  • MN-01: A very large district, so much so that it borders three states (IA, SD, WI), and among the nation's biggest producers of pork and soybeans, which are two of the commodities that have been specially targeted by the Chinese. Obama won it in 2012, but Trump took it by 15 points in 2016.

  • ME-02: You may not have known that the Chinese are also targeting lobster, but the folks in ME-02 sure do.

  • PA-17: In the heart of steel country (and, in fact, home to the Pittsburgh Steelers). And because of the new district maps, one of the rare cases of two incumbents facing each other, namely Rep. Conor Lamb (D) and Rep. Keith Rothfus (R). Trump won the district by 3 points in 2016.

Other Key Races—A handful of important contests that don't quite fit into the above categories:

  • Kansas governor: Kansas is among the reddest states in the nation, at R+13. However, the GOP has managed to wreck the state's economy with unwise tax cuts, and Republican gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach is on a mission to deny people (read: Democrats) their right to vote. Kansans may find him too much to bear.

  • Wisconsin governor: Like Kris Kobach, Gov. Scott Walker (R) has done some pretty high-profile undemocratic things, like try to keep several seats in the state assembly from being filled, for fear they would be filled by Democrats. He's also managed to do some pretty serious harm to the Badger State's economy. Unlike Kobach, Walker has almost no margin for error, as Wisconsin has an even PVI. If he goes down, it probably means that the GOP loses pretty much all of the Midwestern governor's mansions that are up this year, except Nebraska.

  • Minnesota AG: Can Keith Ellison survive being accused of abusing his ex-girlfriend? Donald Trump is hoping the answer is "no," for fear of all the lawsuits Ellison would file once in office.

  • TX-07: This will be a particularly clear test of some of the directions the Democratic Party is heading. It's suburban and wealthy, and the Democratic candidate (Lizzie Pannill Fletcher) is a woman. Mitt Romney took it by 21 points, but Hillary Clinton took it by 1. This could be the blue team's future.

  • CA-10 and CA-48: The Democrats want to make major inroads into GOP holdings in the Golden State. If they win CA-10, which is held by a Republican incumbent (Jeff Denham) and is even, PVI-wise, things are going well for them. And if they win CA-48, which is held by a 30-year Republican incumbent (Dana Rohrabacher) and is R+4, things are going great for them.

  • WA-03: Donald Trump won this district by 7%, and Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R) took 60% of the vote in her last two elections. But she's pretty right-wing for Washington, and Democratic challenger Carolyn Long has raised considerably more money. If candidates like Beutler and Dave Brat (in VA-07) lose, it makes it a near-certainty that the Democrats retake the House, while also dealing a heavy blow to the far-right Freedom Caucus.

So, there you have it. Everybody make sure to get out and vote today; CNN has a very nice rundown of key information for voters who need it, covering all 50 states (polling places, links to state voter information pages, answers to key questions, etc.). As noted above, we will be live-blogging; for those who want more fine-grained results, Politico and the New York Times both do a good job. (Z)

Trump Closes with Anger

Yesterday, Donald Trump campaigned in Ohio, Indiana, and Missouri, thundering about left-wing mobs who, led by a 78-year-old grandma from California, will ransack the country and turn it into Venezuela unless Republicans win all the marbles. He attacked all immigrants, including legal ones. If he knew his history better, he could have paraphrased former Alabama governor George Wallace and said: "Xenophobia now, xenophobia tomorrow, xenophobia forever." Trump is completely focused on immigration now, ignoring the tax cut, the good economy, and everything else. He is betting the farm on turning out his immigrant-hating base.

In Cleveland, Trump focused on the race for governor of Ohio, where Mike DeWine and Richard Cordray are neck and neck. The Senate race there is all but over, with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) getting another term in what is expected to be a landslide victory.

In Fort Wayne, Indiana, Trump's focus was knocking off Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), who is in a close race with Mike Braun, who is hugging Trump as tightly as he can. Donnelly is trying to put as much distance as he can between himself and the national Democrats, but it is a tough thing to pull off.

In Missouri, Trump stumped for Missouri AG Josh Hawley, who is trying to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO). Like Indiana, Missouri is a deep red state, but McCaskill has run a strong campaign and polls have shown her slightly ahead, although well within the margin of error.

If Republicans win in all the places Trump has stumped, he will surely claim it was his efforts that saved the Party. If they lose in all of them, he will blame illegal immigrants voting, Democratic dirty tricks, faulty voting equipment, endorsements from failing newspapers, and many others. The only one whose fault it will not be is Donald Trump's. (V)

Will There Be a Youth Wave?

Young people are notoriously bad voters. In the past three decades, 18-29 year-olds never managed a turnout above 21% in a midterm election. Put in other terms, in a normal midterm, 80% of young voters sit it out. A big question, and one on which a lot rides, is whether this year will be business as usual or will young voters actually show up.

We do have some indicators, though, that show this year may be different. Here are some data points:

  • Early voting for under 30 voters is up 125% compared to 2014 (more than double)
  • Forty percent of the under 30s say they will definitely vote
  • Among young people, 59% said they would never vote for Trump vs. 11% who are sure to vote for him
  • Various polls have shown much more enthusiasm for politics and voting among young voters than in the past

The biggest issue among young voters is mass shootings. While most of the rest of the population has long forgotten the shooting in Parkland, FL, in which 17 people were killed, young voters have not. Youth turnout in the primaries this year doubled in some battleground states, with Parkland being a prime factor. This wouldn't be the first time observers were expecting young voters to show up in droves, with the predicted "wave" being more like a trickle, so don't necessarily hold your breath waiting for it. In any case, by tomorrow night, we'll know. (V)

Early Turnout Was Huge This Year

Now that Election Day is upon us, a final tally for early votes is available, and it's huge: 36 million people. That is far ahead of the last midterm, in 2014, when 27.2 million voters cast early ballots, though it lags behind the presidential year of 2016 by about 6 million votes.

This election, and this political environment, are unusual enough that any conclusions drawn from these figures should be taken with a pinch of salt or two. However, it is certainly the case that high turnout generally favors the Democrats. It is also the case that polls are based on assumptions about how many people will vote, and what the electorate will look like. If this election has unprecedented turnout, it means that data from past midterms is not entirely predictive for what this year will look like. What happened in 2016 should already have taught us all not to be surprised if the polls are way off; this information reiterates that lesson. Any surprise defeats or successes should not really be that much of a shock. (Z)

We May Never Know Who Won in Georgia and Texas

Reports from early voting are showing that voting machines in Georgia and Texas are deleting or flipping votes, apparently to the advantage of the Republicans. Experts doubt this is due to hacking, but to the use of ancient machines and outdated software. None of the machines have any way to audit the vote totals. Five states (Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Delaware and New Jersey) exclusively use machines whose totals cannot be audited. Another seven states (including Texas) use them in some counties. All voting experts agree that the machines should immediately be thrown in the recycle bin and paper voting reintroduced.

In September, a federal judge ruled that continued use of these machines could deny Georgia voters the constitutional right to a fair election, but refused to go the next step and forbid the state to use them. Georgia's secretary of state, Brian Kemp, has refused to have the machines replaced, saying that is unnecessary and would just cost the taxpayers millions of dollars. That this situation might also cost his opponent, Stacey Abrams, thousands of votes surely never even entered into his thinking. Nope, not for one minute.

Marian Schneider, president of Verified Voting said that problems have arisen in every election since 2006, when these machines were first widely deployed. For example, in Palm Beach County, FL, the electronic machines recorded 78 blank ballots in a village council race that was decided by four votes. The worst thing about electronic voting machines is that there is no way to tell if they are working correctly. The only solution is to get rid of all of them, starting tomorrow. (V)

We May Be Left in Suspense Tonight

Politics has much in common with a sporting event, in terms of the competition, and the loyalty to one's team/party, and the fact that elections and sports matchups end with a final score. However, nearly all sporting contests are resolved by the end of the evening; it does not take several days to figure out who actually won the Super Bowl, or the finals at Wimbledon, or game seven of the World Series.

Not so in politics, of course. There are always a number of contests that linger on for a day or two or ten past Election Day, and it is likely that there will be an unusually high number of those this year, for a number of reasons. To start, Georgia and Louisiana require candidates for most statewide offices to win a majority of the votes in order to be elected. That's not likely to be an issue in Louisiana this year, but it could come into play in Georgia, particularly in their hotly-contested gubernatorial race. It's also a potential issue in Mississippi, which doesn't normally have this requirement, but will likely have it come into play in the Senate race between Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) and Mike Espy (D). Since Mississippians are choosing the replacement for a senator who resigned (Thad Cochran), the normal rules do not apply, and a majority of votes is required.

Beyond the runoff and potential runoff states, there are probably going to be a lot of close elections. Some of those will require a recount, others will have to wait until absentee/provisional/other special voters are counted, and still others will be in both categories. Further, lawsuits are well within the realm of possibility. The Justice Dept. is sending election monitors to various sites, ostensibly for legitimate reasons. But if those monitors appear to have intimidated voters, or if wide swaths of people are denied their right to vote by flaky voting machines, or voter information websites that just happen to go offline at an inopportune time, or unavailable polling places, or any of a host of other issues, the ACLU's attorneys will be ready and raring to go. The upshot is that everyone certainly hopes that control of the House and Senate and governors' mansions will be clear by the end of the night, but any or all of the above might not be. (Z)

Today's Senate Polls

Boy, oh boy, there are going to be a lot of nail biters tonight. Unless, of course, the polls are all off, and there aren't many nail biters at all. Four polls of Florida are all good news for—Andrew Gillum. It's true that the pollsters didn't ask about him but Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) is ahead in the four latest polls, and it is hard to imagine many Nelson-DeSantis voters. It is a given that virtually everyone voting for Nelson will also vote for Gillum, so Florida might just have its first black governor-elect tomorrow. Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) will be jumping for joy knowing that a black person can still win the mother of all swing states (as Barack Obama did), and in the deep South as well.

The bottom line on the Senate is that the Democrats have 45 seats nailed down and the Republicans have 50 nailed down (except maybe Tennessee), so the Democrats have to win Nevada, Arizona, Missouri, Indiana, and Florida to even have a shot at winning the Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is not going to bed early tonight, but he is not wetting his pants right now, either. (Z & V)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Arizona Kyrsten Sinema 49% Martha McSally 48% Nov 01 Nov 03 Emerson Coll.
California Dianne Feinstein* 50% Kevin de Leon (D) 36% Nov 01 Nov 02 SurveyUSA
Florida Bill Nelson* 50% Rick Scott 45% Nov 01 Nov 03 Emerson Coll.
Florida Bill Nelson* 50% Rick Scott 46% Nov 03 Nov 04 St. Pete Polls
Florida Bill Nelson* 50% Rick Scott 46% Oct 30 Nov 02 Marist Coll.
Florida Bill Nelson* 51% Rick Scott 44% Oct 29 Nov 04 Quinnipiac U.
Missouri Claire McCaskill* 46% Josh Hawley 49% Nov 01 Nov 03 Emerson Coll.
Missouri Claire McCaskill* 47% Josh Hawley 44% Oct 30 Nov 01 Marist Coll.
New Jersey Bob Menendez* 55% Bob Hugin 40% Oct 29 Nov 04 Quinnipiac U.
Nevada Jacky Rosen 49% Dean Heller* 45% Nov 01 Nov 04 Emerson Coll.

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
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