Thursday, November 15, 2018


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Tuesday’s midterm elections hold massive stakes for future U.S. economic policy — and potentially President Donald Trump‘s political fate.

aim to unseat Republican House members across the country as they push to take a majority in the chamber. The GOP will try to hold its advantage in the Senate and keep its critical role in confirming Trump’s conservative judicial picks. Meanwhile, Democrats will try to win multiple governor’s offices and pick up legislature seats in major U.S. states.

These early swing races, in states where polls close at 7:30 p.m. ET or earlier, could provide clues into how the rest of the night will go for Democrats and Republicans, and which party will emerge with control of the House and Senate.

6 p.m. ET closing time

  • Kentucky 6th District: Political pundits give Democrats good odds in flipping the net 23 GOP-held seats they need to win control of the House, and winning districts like this Republican one means they are off to a good start. Republican Rep. Andy Barr faces a challenge in this conservative Lexington-area district from Amy McGrath, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel. The contest could gauge how far Democratic House gains can extend into red territory.

7 p.m. ET closing time

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum speaks in West Palm Beach, Florida, November 3, 2018.

Shannon Stapleton | Reuters
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum speaks in West Palm Beach, Florida, November 3, 2018.
  • Florida Senate (early closing in most of the state): This is one of the tightest and most expensive races in the country, and the outcome will give an early read on which way voters break in battleground states. Three-term Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson is up against outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Polls close in most of the state at 7 p.m. ET, but an early Democratic lead could evaporate when voting ends in GOP-leaning parts of the Panhandle at 8 p.m. ET.
  • Florida governor (early closing in most of the state): The contest between Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis in a swing state that voted for President Barack Obama twice, then supported Trump, is seen as a test of the national political environment. Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee and the state’s first black gubernatorial nominee, casts himself as an unabashed progressive. DeSantis, a former U.S. House member, has run as a staunch Trump ally.

Read more: What swing-state Florida’s midterm races can tell us about the rest of the country

  • Georgia governor: Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams are fighting for the Georgia governor’s office. The highly contested battle has been steeped in issues of race, voting rights and the future of the Deep South. The outcome will not only determine whether Democratic enthusiasm can lead to a victory in a red-leaning state but also whether Abrams becomes the first black woman governor in the U.S. It could also go to a runoff Dec. 4 if neither candidate gets a simple majority of the votes.
  • Indiana Senate: The Indiana Senate race will be the first test of whether Democrats can defend their seats in deep red territory. Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly aims to win re-election against Republican former state lawmaker Mike Braun in a state that Trump won by about 20 percentage points. A victory or loss for Donnelly could have implications for Democrats such as Claire McCaskill in Missouri and Jon Tester in Montana.
  • Florida 15th District: The Florida district that includes the inner suburbs of Tampa is open following GOP Rep. Dennis Ross’ retirement. Republican Ross Spano and Democrat Kristen Carlson are neck and neck in the traditionally Republican-leaning district. Along with several other Florida seats, the 15th District will help to determine whether a House majority is decided early or later Tuesday.
  • Florida 26th District: The southernmost House District in Florida will give an early look into how much success Democrats had this year in motivating Hispanic voters. Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who has cast himself as a centrist on issues such as immigration, aims to hold off a challenge from Ecuador-born Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. The result in this seat, which Hillary Clinton won in 2016, could help to signal whether Hispanic voters will boost Democrats elsewhere.
  • Florida 27th District: The Miami-area seat, which Clinton carried easily, will offer similar clues about the Hispanic electorate. Democratic former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala aims to defeat Republican Maria Elvira Salazar, a Cuban-American former news anchor. The GOP-held seat is open due to Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s retirement.
  • Georgia 6th District: Last year, a special election in this suburban Atlanta district drew a flood of campaign cash and media attention from around the country, and it seems like the race never ended. Republican Rep. Karen Handel, who won the special election race against Democrat Jon Ossoff, has been fighting a tough race against her Democrat challenger in the general election, Lucy McBath. The district is another gauge of voters in well-educated, suburban areas.
  • Virginia 2nd District: Republican Rep. Scott Taylor aims to defend his seat in the coastal district against Democrat Elaine Luria. The candidates, both Navy veterans, spar in an area that the GOP has held for all but one term in the last two decades. The contest is one of many that will help to determine whether Republicans can defend red-leaning seats.
  • Virginia 5th District: The race for this GOP-held seat vacated by Rep. Tom Garrett’s retirement is another that will test the limits of Democrats’ gains, particularly in districts made more competitive by a wave of Republican retirements. Democrat Leslie Cockburn faces off with Republican Denver Riggleman in a race that appeared neck and neck heading into Election Day.
  • Virginia 7th District: If Democrats can win the district held by tea party hero Rep. Dave Brat, they may be in for a good night. Republicans have held the central Virginia district for decades. The Democratic candidate, former CIA operative Abigail Spanberger, aims to upset the Republican in a contest that appeared close ahead of Tuesday.

Read more: After nearly 50 years of Republican control, this Virginia House district could flip to the Democrats

  • Virginia 10th District: The district, west of Washington, D.C., could gauge how voters in wealthy, educated areas where Trump is unpopular react on Tuesday. Democrats hope to pick up seats in numerous similar areas. Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock is considered an underdog against her Democratic challenger, state Sen. Jennifer Wexton.

7:30 p.m. ET closing time

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) speaks to supporters at a campaign stop ahead of the 2018 midterm elections in Bridgeport, West Virginia, November 5, 2018. 

Joshua Roberts | Reuters
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) speaks to supporters at a campaign stop ahead of the 2018 midterm elections in Bridgeport, West Virginia, November 5, 2018. 
  • West Virginia Senate: Democrats face an uphill battle taking control of the Senate, largely because they’re playing defense: Of the 35 seats up for grabs, Republicans current hold only nine. Five of those incumbent Democratic senators are in red states that voted for Trump overwhelmingly in 2016. Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has navigated the campaign by emphasizing his independence. Manchin faces Republican state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who is backing a lawsuit to eliminate health-care coverage requirements for pre-existing conditions.
  • Ohio governor: The toss-up race in one of the nation’s most important swing states will offer an early clue into how several Midwestern states that Trump won in 2016 could vote in competitive gubernatorial and Senate races. Republican Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine faces Richard Cordray, the Democratic former head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They aim to succeed term-limited GOP Gov. John Kasich.
  • North Carolina 2nd District: This Republican district is one to watch in determining whether Democratic gains move deeper into red territory and become a “blue wave.” Trump won the North Carolina 2nd District by 10 points in 2016. Republican Rep. George Holding appears to have the edge against his Democratic opponent, former state Rep. Linda Coleman. An upset here is a sign of deeper trouble for the GOP.
  • North Carolina 9th District: This race opened up in May when incumbent Robert Pittenger lost his GOP primary to conservative pastor Mark Harris. Democrats are hoping their candidate, Iraq War veteran Dan McCready, can flip this seat from red to blue.
  • North Carolina 13th District: Trump won this Greensboro district by nine points, and incumbent Republican Rep. Ted Budd enjoyed an early lead in the polls against Democratic challenger Kathy Manning, a first-time candidate who has outraised Budd.
  • Ohio 1st District: If this red-leaning southwestern Ohio district falls to Democrats, the GOP majority almost certainly will fall. Republican Rep. Steve Chabot entered Election Day as an apparent favorite over Democrat Aftab Pureval.
  • Ohio 12th District: For the second time this year, this Columbus-area seat that the GOP has held for decades will garner national attention. Republican Rep. Troy Balderson, who narrowly won an August special election to replace retired Rep. Pat Tiberi, faces Democrat Danny O’Connor again. O’Connor enters Tuesday as an underdog, but a win for him would be a huge boost for Democrats.
  • West Virginia 3rd District: This coal country district that Trump won easily is open as Republican Carol Miller and Democratic state Sen. Richard Ojeda spar. Ojeda, a pro-coal and pro-gun rights legislator who once endorsed Trump, has garnered national attention. Democrats here look to score a big upset that could bode well for their prospects in other pro-Trump districts.

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