Election Day: An Hour-by-Hour, Race-by-Race Guide

Blue wave or red tide?

6 PM EST – A Harbinger of Things to Come?

Polls in Kentucky close at 6 PM, and the only competitive election in the state’s Eastern Time Zone is in the 6th district, meaning for one hour all eyes will be trained on the race between incumbent Republican Andy Barr and Democrat Amy McGrath, a retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel.

President Trump carried the Lexington-based district by 15 points, but polls show McGrath has waged a competitive campaign. An upset victory by McGrath would be an ominous sign for Republicans.

7 PM EST – First Signs of a Blue Wave…or Blue Ripple

At 7 PM, polls close in the rest of Kentucky, as well as in Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia.

Georgia features a bellwether race for Governor between Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp and state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, in addition to competitive races in the GOP-held 6th (Karen Handel) and 7th (Rob Woodall) districts.

The gubernatorial race in Georgia may head to a runoff.

The Indiana Senate race between incumbent Democrat Joe Donnelly and Republican businessman Mike Braun is critical for both parties, and Republicans are optimistic about their chances in a state Trump carried by 19 points.

With four highly competitive House seats, Virginia should help provide a clear indication of whether or not we will see a blue wave.

Barbara Comstock in the 10th is, according to polls, heavily trailing, while Scott Taylor in the 2nd and Dave Bratt in the 7th are in races considered toss-ups at best. The campaign to replace Tom Garrett in the 5th district is leaning Republican, but could flip in a large enough blue wave.

A loss in all or most of the races in Virginia would likely mean the Republican House majority is lost.

South Carolina’s 1st district, which is open after Republican Mark Sanford lost his primary, leans Republican but warrants attention.

Vermont’s Republican Governor, Phil Scott, is expected to comfortably win re-election, but a surprise loss would be a terrible sign for other Republican governors in the heavily Democratic northeast.

7:30 PM EST – Dems and Republicans Look to the Mid West and NC

Democrats and Republicans will eagerly watch as polls close in Ohio and West Virginia, along with North Carolina.

Former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head and former state Attorney General Richard Cordray (D) is locked in a tight race with Republican state Attorney General Mike DeWine to replace term-limited Republican Governor John Kasich.

While Trump won Ohio by eight points, Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown is expected to easily win re-election, and Democrats will likely be on course for a comfortable House majority if they can flip the state’s 12th (Troy Balderson) and/or 1st (Steve Chabot) districts.

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin’s fate is less certain, though he remains the slight favorite against Republican state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.

The race in West Virginia’s open 3rd district warrants attention, as Democrats hope to flip a Democratic-majority district that President Trump carried by 50 points.

While North Carolina will not feature a Senate or Governors race, both parties will get a good sense of their overall national prospects in three House races (all held by the GOP): the 9th (open as incumbent Robert Pittenger lost his primary), 2nd (George Holding) and 13th (Ted Budd) districts.

8 PM EST – 16 States and DC

A number of critical House, Senate and gubernatorial races will be decided when polls close in 16 states and the District of Columbia at 8 PM.

While President Trump carried Pennsylvania, the state’s Democratic Governor and Senator are both heavily favored to win re-election, while Democrats have an opportunity to make significant progress in their effort to retake the House thanks, in no small part, to statewide re-districting mandated by the state Supreme Court.

The open 5th and 6th districts are near-certain Democratic pickups, while the open 14th district is one of the few GOP pickup opportunities this year.

Keith Rothfus is likely to lose re-election against fellow Representative Conor Lamb in the newly reconfigured 17th district, while the open 7th district is trending Democratic.

Republican incumbents Brian Fitzpatrick (1st district), Scott Perry (10th district) and Mike Kelly (16th district) are all facing tough re-election campaigns as well.

Red state Democrats will nervously watch the outcome of the Missouri Senate contest between incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republican state Attorney General Josh Hawley.

Democratic aspirations to retake the Senate depend heavily on the race in Tennessee, where Republican Representative Marsha Blackburn is facing former Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen.

Florida’s reputation as a battleground state will be on full display as the state features marquee races for Senate and Governor, as well as seven critical House races.

The race for Senate pits incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson against term-limited Republican Governor Rick Scott, while the bitter campaign to replace Scott as Governor features Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) and former Republican Representative Ron DeSantis.

Control of the House will depend heavily on the outcome of seven races in Florida (all currently held by the GOP): the 27th (open, leaning Democratic), 26th (Carlos Curbelo), 15th (open, leaning Republican), 6th (open, leaning Republican), 18th (Brian Mast), 16th (Vern Buchanan) and 25th (Mario Diaz-Balart) districts.

Republican Governor Bruce Rauner of Illinois is trailing heavily in his campaign for re-election, while Peter Roskam (6th district) and Randy Hultgren (14th district) are in tough campaigns themselves. A large enough Democratic wave could also put Mike Bost (12th district) and Rodney Davis (13th district) at risk.

Republicans are cautiously optimistic about their chances against politically weakened Democratic Senator Robert Menendez in New Jersey, who has been unable to put away pharmaceutical CEO Bob Hugin.

New Jersey will also figure heavily into which party controls the House, as the open 2nd and 11th districts are likely Democratic pickups, while GOP incumbents Tom MacArthur (3rd district) and Leonard Lance (7th district) are locked in tough campaigns.

Alabama, Delaware, Maryland and Massachusetts feature no truly competitive races (the last two will feature significant split ticket voting, as Democratic Senators and Republican Governors are favored in each).

Moderate Republican Governor Chris Sununu is the favorite in New Hampshire, but faces a closer race than Charlie Baker (MA) or Larry Hogan (MD).

The campaign to replace outgoing Governor Paul LePage in Maine is trending Democratic, while Republican Representative Bruce Poliquin’s race in the 2nd district is a toss-up.

The open gubernatorial race in Oklahoma is a toss-up trending Republican, while Democratic Governor Gina Raimondo is favored in Rhode Island.

Republicans in Connecticut are hoping to capitalize on outgoing Democratic Governor Dan Malloy’s unpopularity, though Democrat Ned Lamont is still the narrow favorite over Republican Bob Stefanowski.

The Senate race in Mississippi between incumbent Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith and former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy will likely head to a runoff later this month.

8:30 PM EST – Unrealistically High Hopes for Arkansas?

While Arkansas’ Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson is certain to win re-election, Democrats harbor hopes to unseat Representative French Hill in the 2nd district.

9:00 PM EST – From NY and Louisiana to the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains

Polls close in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming at 9 PM.

Democrats are hopeful Representative Kyrsten Sinema will pull off a victory against Republican Representative Martha McSally in Arizona’s toss-up Senate race.

McSally’s vacant 2nd district is a likely Democratic pickup.

North Dakota’s incumbent Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp is trailing in polls against Republican Representative Kevin Cramer.

While most analysts have given the edge to Texas Senator Ted Cruz over Democratic Representative Beto O’Rourke, some Democrats are banking on an upset.

Democrats are also looking to Texas in their effort to win back the House. Incumbent Republicans John Culberson (7th district) and Pete Sessions (32nd district) are in toss-up races, while Will Hurd (23rd district) is facing a strong challenge as well.

The road to the House majority runs through New York, with at least five competitive races: 19th (John Faso), 22nd (Claudia Tenney), 11th (Dan Donovan), 24th (John Katko) and 27th (Chris Collins).

Kansas features a competitive race for Governor between Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Democratic state Senator Laura Kelly and independent Greg Orman, as well as two critical House races: the 3rd (Kevin Yoder) and 2nd (open, toss-up) districts.

President Trump carried Michigan, giving Republicans some hope to unseat Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow, but she has consistently led Republican John James and Democrats are leading in the race to replace term-limited Republican Governor Rick Snyder.

Michigan also features three competitive House races: the 8th (Mike Bishop), 11th (open) and 6th (Fred Upton) districts.

While Trump also carried Wisconsin, incumbent Republican Governor Scott Walker is facing an uncertain future and Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin is leading comfortably.

Democrats harbor hopes to capture Wisonain’s 1st district being vacated by retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan, but it’s highly unlikely.

Democrats are leading in the gubernatorial and Senate races in Minnesota, while Republican incumbent Representatives Jason Lewis (2nd) and Erik Paulsen (3rd) are in tough races. Republicans do have realistic pickup opportunities in the open 1st and 8th districts.

Democrat Jared Polis is leading in Colorado’s gubernatorial race, while Republican incumbent Mike Coffman is locked in a tight race in the state’s 6th district.

South Dakota’s open gubernatorial race is a toss-up trending Republican, but a Democratic upset is not impossible.

The Republican is favored in Wyoming’s gubernatorial race, while the Democrat is favored to flip New Mexico to replace term limited Republican Susana Martinez.

The 2nd district in New Mexico is a toss-up, as incumbent Republican Steve Pearce is running for Governor.

While Nebraska is all-but-certain to elect a Republican Governor, Republican Don Bacon (2nd district) is in a tough race.

Louisiana features no competitive race this year, though the state’s gubernatorial election takes place next year.

10 PM EST – What Kind of Wave?

The final two toss-up Senate races will be decided when polls close in Iowa, Montana, Nevada and Utah at 10 PM.

President Trump has campaigned heavily for Republican state Auditor Matt Rosendale against incumbent Democratic Senator John Tester, while Democrats are eyeing an upset against the state’s at-large Representative Greg Gianforte.

Nevada Senator Dean Heller is the only Republican running for re-election in a state Hillary Clinton won, and he is locked in a tight race with Democratic Representative Jacky Rosen.

The state also features a toss-up race for Governor, as well as races in the open 3rd and 4th districts that Republicans hope to flip.

Iowa’s gubernatorial race is a toss-up, while Republican Representatives Rod Blum (1st) and David Young (3rd district) are in tough spots. Democrats are also hoping for a symbolic upset against Steve King in the 4th district.

In Utah, Republican Representative Mia Love (4th district) is in an unexpectedly close race against Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, while Mitt Romney will cruise to victory in his Senate race.

11 PM EST – The West Coast….and Idaho

Polls close on the west coast, along with Hawaii and Idaho, at 11 PM.

If Democrats have yet to recapture the House by now, California will be the last chance to push them over the finish line.

The open 49th is a likely Democratic pickup, while competitive races are set in the following districts: 10th (Jeff Denham), 21st (David Valadao), 25th (Steve Knight), 39th (open), 45th (Mimi Walters), 48th (Dana Rohrabacher), and 50th (Duncan Hunter).

Voters in Washington will settle a heavily contested race in the open 8th district, while a sizable blue wave could impact Republicans Jaime Herrera Beutler (3rd district) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (5th district).

Republicans have a credible opportunity to pull off an upset in Oregon’s gubernatorial race.

Hawaii and Idaho feature no truly competitive races.

12 PM to 1 AM EST – The Last Frontier

While polls close in the majority of Alaska at midnight, voters in the remote Aleutian Islands cast the final ballots at 1 AM.

The state’s independent Governor Bill Walker dropped out and endorsed Democrat Mark Begich over Republican Mike Dunleavy. The Republican is still favored, but the race is close.

One poll has shown Alaska’s at-large Representative Don Young, the dean of the House, trailing his Democratic opponent. While an outlier, the race bears watching.

Written by Clifford Cunningham

Clifford Cunningham is a contributor to The Schpiel.


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