Why you should care
Because America could change course tonight.
You’re invited to spend election night with OZY! Watch this space all night for exclusive news analysis as the returns roll in. Then join our exclusive conversation on Facebook alongside OZY’s reporters, editors and experts as well as participants from our hit town hall show, Take On America. Just click “+ Join Group” below the cover photo. We will break down the election results and discuss what they mean for immigration, guns and the potential impeachment of President Donald Trump.
3:40 am ET
They fought the law and … they won. Despite being under federal indictment, Reps. Chris Collins of New York and Duncan Hunter of California have won re-election, per CNN calls. Collins, accused of insider trading, said he wouldn’t run for re-election but decided to hang in once he realized he couldn’t get his name off the ballot. Hunter has been charged with misusing campaign funds for personal expenses — famously including flying a family bunny cross country. He castigated his opponent, former Obama White House aide Ammar Campa-Najjar, as a terrorist sympathizer because Campa-Najjar’s grandfather (whom he never met) was involved in Palestinian attacks. They’ll have to give up their seats if convicted.
Add in victorious Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) who admitted bodyslamming a reporter, and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), whose bribery case ended in a mistrial, and the legal bills caucus had a nice night.
— Daniel Malloy
1:06 am ET
Many countries and their governments are watching these results closely. They will likely not comment publicly — their relief or angst could be used as political bait. But these elections could influence how these countries behave, and indeed U.S. relations with them.
First, Iran: President Rouhani and the relative moderates in Iran have been facing intense pressure from their own hardliners to leave the JCPOA — the 2015 nuclear deal — altogether, after Trump walked out of it. So far, they’ve stuck to the deal, working with the EU, China, Russia, India, others to keep it afloat. A Democratic win in the House will strengthen their hopes that they can wait out two more years, and with a possible Democrat in the White House in 2020, return to Obama-era relations. In other words, those in Iran who want to stick to the country’s nuclear commitments, get strengthened. Hardliners in Iran get weakened. Had Republicans won both houses, hardliners would have pressed Rouhani even harder to get out of the JCPOA and resume nuclear enrichment at earlier levels.
Next, the EU, NATO and UN: Again, there will be some relief in Brussels and at UN headquarters in New York, a sense that Trump may yet be a passing phenomenon, and that they can return to the earlier state of relations post-2020. But the Democratic win in the House does not rob the US President of the executive powers that allow him to continue to pursue most of his current policies unchanged.
— Charu Kasturi
12:15 am ET
One of the first global implications of the Democrats taking control of the House will be for President Trump’s approach to global trade. Congress has no authority to amend trade deals that are negotiated by the executive, but can vote them up or down. The executive is also required to notify and consult Congress while it is negotiating a trade deal. The USMCA, meant to replace NAFTA, is expected to comes up for vote early 2019. A Democrat-led House could demand answers, stall or even scupper what Trump is trumpeting as a major trade victory. And what they do with the USMCA could set the tone for how other Trump trade deals play out over the next two years.
— Charu Kasturi
11:30 pm ET
Even with California and Alaska yet to report, the night feels like it’s coming closer to its conclusion. Democrats swiped the House; the GOP safeguarded the Senate. The ramifications are yet to be fully explored, but there is one near certainty: expect Washington gridlock and political posturing as Democrats peacock ahead of the 2020 presidential primaries, lining up to take on President Donald Trump.
However, there is some change assured, mostly as a result of the ballot measures passed across the country. Missouri approved legal marijuana (with a 4 percent tax) while North Dakota passed on the good stuff. Three states have Medicaid expansion on the ballot and while returns from Idaho are too early to interpret, expansion leads in both Nebraska and Utah. Plus, residents in Missouri and Arkansas approved increases to their state minimum wages. Those significant shifts are a reminder that electing candidates isn’t the only way to see policy affected, even on Election Nights where so much focus is spent on the horse race of partisan jockeying.
— Nick Fouriezos
10:45 pm ET
As we stand, your three big storylines:
1. Republicans are going to gain seats in the Senate — the question is how many. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Kevin Cramer (North Dakota) have been called. Josh Hawley (Missouri) is leading early — and outpacing Republican Roy Blunt’s 2016 Senate win, in one of our Ground Game races. Rick Scott (Florida) is in position to squeak through as well.
2. Democrats are going to win the House — and California will determine the size of the margin. Winning in key seats like Kansas-3, where Sharice Davids has taken out Rep. Kevin Yoder, means that the suburban revolt against the GOP is powerful.
3. Democrats are doing pretty well in governor’s races — with Laura Kelly in Kansas being the “whoa” moment of the night as a deep red state revolts against hard-right Kris Kobach. But it looks like Andrew Gillum is going down in Florida, and Stacey Abrams needs a huge surge in the slow-counting Atlanta area to force a runoff.
— Daniel Malloy
9:45 pm ET
It’s almost 10 o’clock. Do you know where your House is? Well, Fox News is already projecting it in Democratic hands. That’s bold! The early narrative so far is that this is not a big blue wave by any stretch, and in key state races the Democrats are underperforming the polls. But in the House they are churning through the races they have to win in Florida, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Republicans held onto Kentucky’s 6th, an important win, and there are many going down to the wire, such as Virginia’s 7th and North Carolina’s 2nd. But with Democrats looking strong in places like Florida’s 26th (upsetting incumbent Carlos Curbelo, in one of our Ground Game races) and Texas’ 32nd (GOP Rep. Pete Sessions), signs point to a Democratic majority — if a narrow one.
9:00 pm ET
With both NBC and ABC calling Indiana for Republican Mike Braun, the Democrats’ long-shot dream of taking over the U.S. Senate is all but dead. This has been a tough race to poll, and Sen. Joe Donnelly had seemed to be looking solid, but Indiana is a very red state. Donald Trump won it by 19 points. The fact that this was a must-have for the Dems shows just how different the Senate and House maps are this year. NBC has also called Tennessee for Republican Marsha Blackburn.
Democrats now have to sweep basically every other state on the board tonight to dethrone Mitch McConnell.
— Daniel Malloy
8:35 pm ET
Some early calls are coming in: Democrats picking up a couple House seats they expected to (Virginia-10, Florida-27) and Republicans looking like they’re holding a couple that could have gone down in a blue tsunami (Virginia-5, Indiana-2). Florida is insanely close for the governor and Senate races. Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly is struggling for air in Indiana.
But let’s talk for a second about blue-state GOP governors. The most popular governors in America are Republicans Charlie Baker in Massachusetts and Larry Hogan in Maryland — and both cruised to re-election tonight. We picked Maryland for our Ground Game series thinking that it was a great test of whether national fundamentals could override a strong local brand in the moderate cancer survivor in Hogan, who was quick to criticize President Donald Trump. Maryland Democrats nominated a young, dynamic former NAACP leader Ben Jealous — a man who seemed to fit the moment this year in many ways. But Hogan romped, even as Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin dominated his race.
And then there’s Illinois: Democrat J.B. Pritzker is cruising there against incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner, who tacked to the center at the expense of his Republican base.
— Daniel Malloy
7:36 pm ET
It is the paradise that never was meant to be, a swampy cesspool in the times of George Washington that through modern irrigation became America’s favorite retirement destination – and a pivotal swing state for control of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
Yes, Florida is crucial once again, starting with the pivotal race between incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, and his Republican challenger Rick Scott, the state’s current governor. With early returns coming in from rural parts of the state, Scott is lagging – particularly by scoring 3-percent below his target in Clay County, according to Scott Tranter, a co-founder of Republican data firm 0ptimus which has partnered with OZY to create an exclusive election forecasting model this cycle. That potentially bodes well too for Andrew Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor vying to be Florida’s first African American governor against Congressman Ron DeSantis, a former Navy Prosecutor.
Watch three key House races here: Fla-27, Fla-18 and Fla-26. The latter two are home to Republican incumbents, Brian Mast and Carlos Curbelo, in districts that supported Hillary Clinton in 2016. The third is an open seat that should lean Democrat, but has been hotly contested by first-time candidate and former Univision anchor Maria Elvira Salazar. Each of the candidates are based in South Florida and have at times courted president Donald Trump while also distancing themselves from him in key ways. And they could be key to determining which party controls Congress by the end of the night.
— Nick Fouriezos
7:00 pm ET
Now it’s going to get interesting. All of Kentucky and Indiana close, as well as Virginia and Georgia. We’ve been watching Georgia closely all year as part of our Ground Game series looking at bellwether races. But Georgians will still be voting for a while — anyone in line at poll closing time legally must be allowed to vote, and we’ve gotten reports of hours-long lines in the Peach State.
What’s at stake there? The governor’s race has become a national cause thanks to Stacey Abrams’ quest to become the first Black female governor in U.S. history, in a red-state bastion. Early returns from rural areas and South Georgia will favor Republican Brian Kemp. The question for Abrams will be whether she can spur a promised wave of Democrats in Atlanta’s Fulton County and surrounding Cobb and Gwinnett counties. That’s where the lines have been longest, and some polling places are staying open late because of problems.
Looking for signs of a blue wave in the House? Watch a pair of 7s: Georgia’s 7th and Virginia’s 7th congressional districts. Both are traditionally Republican and largely suburban areas, where if the incumbents fall it will be a long night for the GOP.
— Daniel Malloy
5:30 pm ET
We’re still a few minutes from having any real numbers to play with, so let’s start with what we know from early voting all the way through today — turnout is way up. Check out the line that greeted our video producer Stuart Harmon when he went to vote in Park Slope, Brooklyn, this morning, the longest he’d seen in a decade.
Reports indicate turnout far exceeding the last midterm election in 2014, and rivaling 2016 in some places. But that can mean disenfranchisement. Gwinnett County, Georgia, outside Atlanta is home to a critical congressional race — not to mention the nationally watched governor contest between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp. There, polling place malfunctions and hours-long waits are again leading to charges of voter suppression, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. ProPublica’s handly Electionland project is compiling reports from across the country — machine malfunctions in Ohio and North Carolina, confusion about voter ID laws in Missouri, and plenty more.
The polls start closing at 6 pm ET/3pm PT, with Indiana and Kentucky providing the first results for us for chew on. Here’s what we’ll be watching hour by hour, and the final reports from our bellwether Ground Game races. You can follow along here and then debate and discuss the news on our exclusive Facebook discussion group.
— Daniel Malloy, Politics Editor