Indiana’s Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb will win reelection, CNN projects.
Republican Hal Rogers of Kentucky will win the first House race of the night, CNN projects.
After six years of Republican rule, the Senate could very well flip. By now, the reasons are clear.
A majority of the country never approved of President Trump, or his handling of his top crisis, the coronavirus pandemic, which shuttered businesses and claimed the lives of over 230,000 people in America.
Democratic candidates bet that protecting and expanding upon the Affordable Care Act, which ended their party's control of the Senate in 2014, would be their path back to power. Republicans hope that an economic rebound and the late confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett will remind voters why they put the GOP in charge, and save their Senate majority.
Here are key things to watch tonight:
- Will the Senate and presidential results match perfectly like they did in 2016?The 2016 election cycle was the first in which every state voted for the same party in both the presidential and Senate races. If that's the case again in 2020, then the Republicans should benefit, since many of the competitive Senate contests are in red states.
- Will Georgia's Senate races go to a runoff? Sen. David Perdue and the other Republican senator from Georgia, Kelly Loeffler, are both facing elections in 2020. Perdue, who first won his seat in 2014, is facing reelection against Democrat Jon Ossoff and libertarian candidate Shane Hazel. If no candidate gets more than 50% on Election Day, the two top vote-getters will compete in a runoff on Jan. 5. While that could happen in Perdue's race, a runoff is "almost absolutely certain" to happen in Loeffler's, according to Dr. Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia.
- Will ranked-choice voting hurt Maine Sen. Susan Collins? Maine Sen. Susan Collins' reelection race against Democrat Sara Gideon could decide which party wins the Senate. But Republicans worry that the state's ranked-choice voting system could hurt Collins since two third-party candidates, Max Linn and Lisa Savage, are also on the ballot. In Maine, a candidate needs to not only get more votes than the other candidate, but at least 50% of the votes. If no candidate gets a majority, then Maine's Senate election gets trickier. The Pine Tree state allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference on the ballot. Voters can select a first choice, second choice, third choice, fourth choice, et cetera.
- Will a third-party candidate doom Sen. Lindsey Graham? Bill Bledsoe, the third-party candidate in the surprisingly close Senate contest between South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democrat Jaime Harrison, does not want anyone to vote for him. A month ago, he dropped out and endorsed Graham. But the conservative, Constitution Party candidate will still be on the ballot, potentially damaging Graham's bid for a fourth term.
- Will women flip the Senate? If Democrats do take back the Senate, it will be because of women. There has long been a gender gap in American politics, with women favoring the Democratic Party and men favoring the Republican Party. The biggest gaps were in 2016 and 1996, when 41% of women and 52% of men supported Trump, and 55% of women and 44% of men supported Democratic President Bill Clinton, according to Rutgers' Center for American Women and Politics. Some polls suggest that Trump's presidency could widen that gap in 2020. In Senate polls across the country, many Democratic candidates have a double-digit difference in their support between women and men.
Read more here.
Democrat Jaime Harrison is facing off with three-term GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham in North Carolina tonight.
Here's what we know about the race:
Who are the candidates
Challenger: Democrat Jaime Harrison
- Harrison, who is 44 years old, grew up poor in Orangeburg, and was raised by his grandparents before attending Yale University and Georgetown Law.
- He worked as a staffer for South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn and as a lobbyist with clients including Michelin, Boeing and the South Carolina Ports Authority.
- For four years beginning in 2013, Harrison was the chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party – the first Black American to have the position. Since 2017, he's been an associate chair of the Democratic National Committee.
- His message echoes Barack Obama's slogans from 2008: "It's not about left vs. right. It's about right vs. wrong."
- Democrats will also be closely watching the turnout of Black voters — a crucial voting bloc to get Harrison across the finish line.
Incumbent: Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham
- Graham, who is 65 years old, has served three terms in the Senate and is the current Senate Judiciary Committee chairman.
- He is banking that South Carolina will send him back to Washington for several reasons: His alliance with Trump, his vigorous defense of the President's Supreme Court nominees and the push to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the high court before Election Day.
- On the campaign trail, Graham has attacked Harrison's lobbying career and is targeting suburban women.
- Republicans hope that Graham's Judiciary Committee performance – specifically during the confirmation process of Barrett – will also help him consolidate support among conservatives, who've long viewed him skeptically.
Why this race matters
Democrats haven't had success in South Carolina ever since Fritz Hollings retired 15 years ago after nearly four decades in the Senate. In the six Senate elections since 2004, the Democratic candidate never got more than 45% of the vote. But Harrison may change that, boosted by an unprecedented level of financial support.
While President Donald Trump is more popular in South Carolina than he is in other states where vulnerable Republican senators are running, polls have shown a dip in the President's standing here. Whether that's enough to end Graham's 26-year career in Congress is an open question.
CNN's Phil Mattingly explains:
With Democrats poised to expand their House majority this year, the two biggest things to watch on Election Night will be how many seats they flip and where they are.
The gains Democrats make will say a lot about how much partisanship is changing along geographic and educational divides — and how much the national environment, specifically President Trump, may have accelerated those changes.
Democrats made historic gains in the 2018 midterms, flipping 40 seats with the help of massive fundraising and enthusiasm for sending a message to the White House and GOP-controlled Congress. At the time, that looked like a high-water mark. The current balance of power in the House is 232 Democrats to 197 Republicans with one Libertarian and five vacancies.
The trends that fueled those Democratic pickups two years ago have only intensified since then. With Trump on the ballot this year, his unpopularity among well-educated and affluent voters is expected to further sink down-ballot Republicans, even in places that voted for him four years ago.
And it's no longer just wealthy metropolitan areas that are in play for Democrats. The party has made inroads in some unexpected places, while also holding off strong challengers or remaining competitive in rural districts that voted for the President by double digits four years ago and may back him again this year.
Republicans need a net gain of 17 seats to flip the chamber — a tall order in any year. But that task became more of a challenge as the pandemic, and Trump's handling of it, dominated the election. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales, a CNN contributor, now projects Democrats will win a net gain of between 14 and 20 seats this year.
Democrats are still facing real fights to hold some of their seats — especially in places like New York's Staten Island, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Minnesota, primarily places with a high concentration of White, working class voters. But the party pivoted to being increasingly on offense over the course of the cycle.
Read about some of the key races here
CNN's Phil Mattingly reports:
Several Senate seats are at play this election, and Democrats are aiming to flip seats to turn the chamber blue.
Here's a look at when key polls close tonight:
- 7 p.m. ET — Georgia, which is interesting at the presidential and Senate levels. Kentucky and South Carolina have key Senate races.
- 7:30 p.m. ET — North Carolina and Ohio. There's a tight Senate race in North Carolina.
- 8:00 p.m. ET — Florida and Pennsylvania. Maine has a key Senate race.
- 9:00 p.m. ET — Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas and Wisconsin. There are also key Senate races in Arizona, Michigan, Colorado and Texas.
- 10:00 p.m. ET — Iowa and Nevada
The real question on Election Day is whether Republicans can hang onto their slim majority in the Senate.
Democrats need to pick up a net of three seats if Biden wins and four if Trump wins (the vice president breaks ties in the Senate) to seize power.
They're pretty much guaranteed to lose a Senate seat in Alabama, so Democrats are looking for 4-5 seats elsewhere. There are plenty of opportunities.
One Republican-held seat — Colorado — is rated by CNN as "lean Democratic."
Three Republican-held seats — Arizona, Maine and North Carolina — are rated by CNN as "tilt Democratic."
Three Republican-held seats — Georgia, Iowa and Montana — are rated by CNN as "tossup."
If there's a massive Democratic wave, look to the three Republican-held seats — Kansas, South Carolina and Georgia's second seat — rated by CNN as "tilt Republican."
Meanwhile, Democrats are expected to build on the House majority they won in 2018.
CNN's Phil Mattingly explains:
Voters across the country today will decide more than who will sit in White House. States will weigh several different issues this election, such as whether to legalize marijuana, limit access to abortion, reform voting and more.
Here are some of the top ballot measures to watch this Election Day:
- Marijuana legalization: Eleven US states have legalized recreational marijuana, and four more could join them this year. Voters in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota will consider efforts to legalize marijuana, allow cannabis sales and make drug-related criminal justice reforms.
- Voting: Alaska and Massachusetts will decide whether to adopt ranked-choice voting for elections. Ranked-choice voting is a system in which voters rank their preferences instead of voting for just one candidate. Alaska's Ballot Measure No. 2 weighs whether to move to an open top-four primary system and a ranked-choice general election. Massachusetts' Question 2 would establish ranked-choice for state and federal primary and general elections — but not for presidential elections.
- Racial reckoning: Mississippi's Ballot Measure 3 will ask voters to weigh-in on a new state flag after the state Legislature this summer retired its 1894 flag that featured a Confederate battle emblem. Voters will either accept or reject a new state flag design, which was picked out of 3,000 options and features a magnolia flower surrounded by 20 stars, signifying the state's status at the 20th state. The flag also includes the words "In God We Trust," as required by law. If voters decide against the proposed design, the process of picking a new flag will begin again. Rhode Island's State Question 1 would change part of the state's official name to exclude a portion that has ties to slavery. The measure, if passed, would change the "State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations" to the "State of Rhode Island." Nebraska's Proposed Amendment 1 and Utah's Constitutional Amendment C would amend their respective state constitutions to remove archaic language that allows slavery and involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime.
Read more about state and local ballot measures here