The Green Papers Commentary
 

An ELECTION 2018 Preview:
Races to Watch

Monday, November 5, 2018

by RICHARD E. BERG-ANDERSSON
TheGreenPapers.com Staff

What the reader will see below is a (well, not so) brief summary of the races for Governor, United States Senate, and U.S. House of Representatives I myself will be keeping a rather close eye on (some closer than others, admittedly, especially as the vote returns come in and I can thereafter more and more easily discern just where I should spend more of my time looking) during the evening (and on into the wee hours) of this coming Tuesday, 6 November. A lot of potentially competitive races in this election will not be mentioned (in fact, at least a few States will not even be mentioned!); but please note that, just because I haven't referred below to a particular contest, it doesn't mean that race is not at all an important one; in fact, as far as I am concerned, all contested elections on the ballot, all up and down it, in your own election precinct are important and I urge those of you among my fellow Americans- regardless of where you might stand on the issues of the day, or where you might best "line up" along the political/ideological spectrum- to utilize what one historian of American voting rights more than a half century now, Marchette Chute, called 'The First Liberty'! In addition, not all the races I discuss below are equally competitive: it is simply that the ones I do discuss are likely, in my opinion, to be indicators (or at least 'tell's) of just how well (or not) Election 2018 has gone for either Major Party as more and more returns come in from more and more parts of the United States.

The highest "drama" (if one wishes to use that term) coming out of Election 2018 involves the question of whether or not the Democratic Party can wrest political control of the U.S. House of Representatives from the Republicans, who have held such control for the past eight years; there is also the issue of just how likely (although, perhaps not) it is that the Democrats might also gain political control of the United States Senate from the Grand Old Party's hold on that body it has enjoyed for the past four years. These clearly overlay the political landscape going into this Midterm Election and will be the principal focus of the piece which follows this introduction. In addition, I should note that all incumbents are in boldface, regardless of whether or not they are seeking re-election this time round; and all non-incumbents (those seeking an office who are not yet holding it) are in italics; there is no other reason for this! And, with that caveat, I will now start our tour of Election 2018:

NEW ENGLAND:

As far as the Democrats taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives be concerned, my native New England (that is: the region in which I myself was born [and, later on in life, would attend college]) gives them no real help whatsoever (and, in fact, provides at least a few potential pitfalls, as will be seen below): the one-time home of the curmudgeonly, even (at times) post-puritanical (yet practical), 'Yankee' and the "nose in the air" 'Brahmin' (who "talk[s] only to God") has now become a more generally Democrat-friendly region. The main interest, as regards New England as the returns come in, will be primarily in certain gubernatorial races (principally those where incumbent Republican Governors are bidding for re-election): one will thereby be able to discern (in comparison with other races- especially any for United States Senate in such States) just how much "ticket-splitting" (or not) is going on in this region which, in turn, may well set up at least one of the themes of the night, as more and more returns come in from all over-- whether or not one type of race (for Governor, United States Senator, or Member of Congress) is, or is not, having a concomitant effect on the fortunes of each of the Major Parties in other types of races elsewhere on the same ballot.
  • MAINE: A key race to keep an eye on, as the Election Returns from the Pine Tree State first roll in, is the re-election bid of Congressman Bruce Poliquin, currently the only Republican Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from all of New England, in the 2nd Congressional District; whatever the actual outcome of this contest, the numbers- as more and more of the vote becomes reported as the evening wears on- may well provide something of a 'tell' (if only when compared to many of the races still to be considered below) as to how well, or not, the rest of the evening might go for each of the two Major Parties nationally. Polquin won two years ago by a roughly 4-3 margin over his Democratic opponent; comparing his numbers this Election Night to those from 2016 may well prove rather revealing. [Editor's Note: MAINE's polls close at 8 PM Eastern Standard Time (0100 GMT)]
  • NEW HAMPSHIRE: Two races to watch here, of which only one is key-- this being the race for the seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from the 1st Congressional District, a seat being vacated by Democratic Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. Obviously, any Democratic seat that is "flipped" by Republicans in this Election makes it that much harder for the Democrats to win control of the lower chamber of Congress, and this seat is of particular interest because the two Major Parties have been "trading twos" here for more than a few election cycles now. Democratic Executive Councilor Chris Pappas faces off against Republican Eddie Edwards, a former Police Chief, in this one. The other race to watch is that for Governor, in which incumbent Republican Chris Sununu is being challenged by Democratic State Senator Molly Kelly: as will be seen as the gentle reader continues through this piece of mine, I argue that one of the things to at least note- as the returns come in- is how well, or not, incumbent Republican Governors in otherwise more Democrat-friendly (if you will) States will, or will not, be doing; although the Granite State is generally less "Democrat-friendly" than others that have trended more towards the 'Party of the People' in recent years, Governor Sununu's re-election bid is at least worth a casual look. Sununu's election two years ago ended 6 straight (and 9 out of 10) gubernatorial election victories for the Democrats, but it was by a quite narrow margin (49% to 47%); comparisons to that 2016 result may well be as much of a 'tell' as to the evening's political trend overall as might be the race in Maine CD2 (already noted above). [Editor's Note: All of NEW HAMPSHIRE's polls will have closed by 8 PM Eastern Standard Time (0100 GMT)]
  • VERMONT: The only race to watch, if only casually, in the Green Mountain State is that for Governor, in which Republican incumbent Phil Scott faces off against Democrat Christine Hallquist: Governor Scott was first elected two years ago by 53% to 44% (thus, he had had a comfortable margin of victory in otherwise Democrat-friendly Vermont)-- as is the case in New Hampshire (noted above), the numbers- as the vote returns come in throughout the evening- for Scott should be compared to how he ran back in 2016. [Editor's Note: VERMONT's polls close at 7 PM Eastern Standard Time (0000 GMT)]
  • MASSACHUSETTS: Likewise, the only race to keep an eye on- again, if only casually- in the Bay State is that for Governor, where incumbent Republican Charlie Baker squares off against former Secretary of Finance, Democrat Jay Gonzalez. Governor Baker was also first elected, in 2014, by a narrow margin (48% to 46%): can he do better in his re-election bid this time round? Watching the numbers, as they come in, in this particular race will be an interesting "window" into how voters in this very Democrat-friendly Commonwealth are treating Republican office-holders and may well provide a 'tell' as regards similar situations elsewhere in the country. [Editor's Note: the polls in MASSACHUSETTS close at 8 PM Eastern Standard Time (0100 GMT)]
  • RHODE ISLAND: 'Little Rhody' provides us with a rematch, one worth at least a casual look throughout the evening, in the race for Governor. Back in 2014, incumbent Democrat Gina Raimondo was first elected Governor by a 41% to 36% over the Republican Mayor of Cranston Allan Fung (this a race where a self-described Moderate took 21% of the vote); four years later, Fung is back as the gubernatorial candidate of the 'Grand Old Party'. For much different reasons, this race, too, may well provide something of a 'tell' as to the fortunes of each Major Party in what is generally a Democrat-friendly State and which, in turn, might provide a clue to how the Parties may each be faring nationally. [Editor's Note: RHODE ISLAND's polls close at 8 PM Eastern Standard Time (0100 GMT)]
  • CONNECTICUT: The Nutmeg State (as a native of Connecticut, I remain proud of my "Nutmegger" birth and have never really warmed up to that whole 'Constitution State' thing!) will host only the third race for the U.S. House of Representatives of note throughout all of New England: that in Connecticut's 5th Congressional District, where Democratic Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is retiring. 2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes is the candidate of the 'Party of the People', squaring off against former Mayor of Meriden Manny Santos, the candidate of the 'Grand Old Party'. Again, should the Republicans, somehow, be able to "flip" this seat, it would put a serious "hurt" on the ability of the Democrats to, perhaps, take control of the U.S. House; meanwhile, as in all the races described so far, keep watch on the numbers as more and more of them come in throughout the evening! [Editor's Note: the polls in CONNECTICUT close at 8 PM Eastern Standard Time (0100 GMT)]

MID-ATLANTIC:

For purposes of this piece, I am defining the 'Mid-Atlantic' rather narrowly east to west while, at the same time, expanding it slightly north to south in relation to its usual boundaries as a Region within the United States. As far as Election 2018 be concerned, it should be considered to include eastern New York State running down through the Hudson Valley into the Metro New York City area (including Long Island), all of New Jersey, eastern and central Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and the D.C. suburbs of Virginia (and the reason for all this should become clear as the dear reader works his/her way through this piece). It is here, in the 'Mid-Atlantic' (as I have just defined it), that any serious chance for the Democrats to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives must be launched; truth be told, the Dems must come out of this region with a net gain in House seats of at least upper single digits (say, +6 at the least-- if not more) in order to thereafter be able to pick up enough seats throughout the rest of the country to thereafter end up holding at least 218 seats (the minimum number of House seats for a Majority in that chamber)-- faltering here in the 'Mid-Atlantic' (again, as above defined), frankly, dooms the Party of the People's pet electoral project of 2018!
  • eastern NEW YORK State: At first coming right down the Hudson Valley to start with, we come to the 19th Congressional District, where incumbent Republican Congressman John Faso faces a challenge from Democrat Antonio Delgado; we then head on into New York City: specifically its self-proclaimed "Forgotten Borough" (full disclosure: I myself spent my formative years as an elementary school pupil on Staten Island) where, in the 11th Congressional District (which, besides including all of Staten Island, also contains a portion of westernmost Brooklyn), incumbent Republican Congressman Dan Donovan faces a challenge from Democrat Max Rose: these are two races the Democrats hope to "flip" in a parts of the Empire State that are nominally pro-Republican but in which they have an at least puncher's chance of doing so and, thereby, both these races are well worth watching as the returns come in throughout the evening. The only other race for the U.S. House of Representatives in eastern New York State to really watch is that in the 1st Congressional District out towards the eastern end of Long Island: some two decades ago, this seat had something of a history of electoral volatility (akin to the recent history of New Hampshire's 1st District [see above]) before settling down with a Democratic Congressman who survived more usually close races for a decade before being defeated, four years ago, by Republican Lee Zeldin, the current incumbent who is now being challenged by Democrat Perry Gershon. [Editor's Note: NEW YORK's polls close at 9 PM Eastern Standard Time (0200 GMT)]
  • NEW JERSEY: Some 240 years ago, my own Garden State was the 'Cockpit of the Revolution'; more battles and skirmishes took place in New Jersey during the War for Independence than in any other of the 'Original 13' (and, in addition, George Washington and the Continental Army overwintered in and around Morristown [that is: in what is now my own "neck of the woods"] twice). Now, in Election 2018, New Jersey might (or, for that matter, might not) prove to be the "Cockpit of 'The Resistance' "-- for, if the Democrats falter in many a race for the U.S. House of Representatives here in the Garden State, they can pretty much kiss their hopes of taking control of the lower chamber of Congress 'goodbye'! Thus, there are more than a few Congressional races of interest in my own State: to begin with, there is the 5th Congressional District currently held by Democrat Josh Gottheimer, who first won this seat two years ago by defeating long-time GOP Congressman Scott Garrett; needless to say, the Republicans want this one back-- former Bergen County municipal politician John McCann is the Grand Old Party's candidate here and this one is, rather obviously, a key race. In my own 11th Congressional District, there is the race to replace retiring long-time Republican Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen: the Democrats would really like to take this one and they have put forth former Federal Prosecutor Mikie Sherrill as their candidate; State Assemblyman Jay Webber is the Grand Old Party's hope to keep this seat in their column. Yet another key race to watch, as the returns come in, in the Garden State is that in the 2nd Congressional District, where incumbent Republican Congressman Frank LoBiondo is retiring: a contest which pits Republican Seth Grossman, a former member of the Atlantic County Board, against Democratic State Senator Jeff Van Drew. These three alone will certainly tell us much about the Democrats' chances to take back the U.S. House across the board nationally, but there are two more in New Jersey to at least keep an eye on: first, in the 7th Congressional District, incumbent Republican Congressman Leonard Lance is being challenged by Democrat Tom Malinowski, a former US State Dept. official (although, in my own opinion, this one is the least likely Garden State House seat to "flip": if it actually does, it could well signal a much better night for the Democrats overall); and, in the 3rd Congressional District, incumbent Republican Congressman Tom MacArthur faces a challenge from Democrat Andy Kim, like Malinowski, formerly an Obama Administration Foreign Service officer: MacArthur's TV ads have been painting Kim as being "Not One of Us", while Kim, in fact, actually grew up in that part of South Jersey (MacArthur, on the other hand, was a municipal official in my own "neck of the woods" up here in North Jersey before first moving south, and then being elected to Congress, four years ago); the success, or failure, of Congressman MacArthur's strategy to keep his seat will also go a long way to showing us all just how it may go for each Major Party as the evening progresses and more and more returns come in. There is also a United States Senate seat (the first I have considered "key" so far in this piece) from New Jersey to mention: one where incumbent Democratic Senator Bob Menendez is being challenged by pharmaceutical executive Republican Bob Hugin; any chance, however slim, the Democrats might have to take control of the U.S. Senate hinges upon keeping the number of Senate seats the Party of the People might lose down (while also trying to "flip" other Senate seats elsewhere) to the barest minimum-- Senator Menendez losing this bid for re-election would be a devastating blow to such hopes! [Editor's Note: the polls in NEW JERSEY close at 8 PM Eastern Standard Time (0100 GMT)]
  • eastern and central PENNSYLVANIA: There are three key races of note in this part of the Keystone State (a State where Congressional Districts have been redrawn, by court order, since the last Federal Election two years ago)-- the first being in its 1st Congressional District, where incumbent Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick faces off against Democrat Scott Wallace; the second being in the neighboring 7th Congressional District, where there is a contest to succeed outgoing Republican Congressman Charlie Dent (who would've otherwise been a candidate in this District) between Democrat Susan Ellis Wild and Republican Marty Nothstein; and a third in the 10th Congressional District, where incumbent Republican Congressman Scott Perry is being challenged by Democrat George Scott: all these being three more Congressional Districts the Democrats hope to, perhaps, "flip".[Editor's Note: PENNSYLVANIA's polls close at 8 PM Eastern Standard Time (0200 GMT)]
  • DELAWARE will not help the Democrats in this election because it is already a more Democrat-friendly State of now rather long-standing; meanwhile, MARYLAND has only one race of at least casual interest-- that for its Governor, in which incumbent Republican Larry Hogan (who was first elected four years ago by 52% to 47%) faces Democrat Ben Jealous, former NAACP President. And the main interest in Maryland's gubernatorial race is along the same lines as that in the three New England States in which incumbent Republican Governors are also seeking re-election (see above): how well, or not, does Governor Hogan do this time round as compared to last time and how will this affect, or not, other races on the ballot in Maryland (that is: how much 'ticket-splitting' will there be and will this provide a 'tell' as to how the evening is going for each Major Party overall). [Editor's Note: the polls in both DELAWARE and MARYLAND close at 8 PM Eastern Standard Time (0200 GMT)]
  • Which brings us into northernmost VIRGINIA: Here, the key race is that in the Old Dominion's 10th Congressional District, in which incumbent Republican Barbara Comstock faces a challenge from Democrat Jennifer Wexton, a state legislator-- yet another race the Democrats hope to "flip" in what I have (admitted loosely) defined as the 'Mid-Atlantic' Region, if only for purposes of this piece. [Editor's Note: VIRGINIA's polls close at 7 PM Eastern Standard Time (0000 GMT)]

THE SOUTH:

This is the Region that has proved, for some time now, to be the least Democrat-friendly part of the country (with the possible exception of much of the more sparsely populated Intermountain West): the once, up to a couple generations ago, "Solid [Democratic] South" has long since become the "Solid Republican South". In fact, this fact is what will make the Democrats' taking over the United States Senate in this election nigh unto impossible; in addition, the geographic path for Democrats in this regard is not only narrow in general, it is virtually non-existent in this part of the country-- primarily because most Southern States (both North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana) do not even elect a United States Senator this time round. In a singular case of "bad luck with the timing", there are not many Senate seats for Democrats to even try to pick off (assuming they even could) within the South in the first place! For purposes of this piece, I have defined The South as the 11 States that once made up the Confederacy, plus West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma.
  • I'll start with WEST VIRGINIA with which to begin wheeling around this Region: the key race here is that for the United States Senate, where the incumbent Democrat Joe Manchin faces a challenge from Republican State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. In what will now be something of a theme throughout the rest of this piece, it is altogether obvious that, should the Democrats wish to gain control of the Senate, they cannot lose all too many seats in that chamber they already hold even while, perhaps, "flipping" Senate seats in other States-- an issue certainly in play here! [Editor's Note: WEST VIRGINIA's polls close at 7:30 PM Eastern Standard Time (0030 GMT)]
  • Next, we move on to KENTUCKY: there are at least two races for the U.S. House of Representatives to watch closely in the Bluegrass State-- the first is in the 3rd Congressional District, in which John Yarmuth, the only Democrat in Kentucky's Congressional delegation, faces a challenge from Republican Vickie Glisson: it goes without saying that the Grand Old Party "flipping" this seat puts at least a "pothole" in any path the Democrats might otherwise have towards the Party of the People's goal of taking over control of the lower chamber of Congress. The other key race of note in the Bluegrass State is that in the 6th Congressional District, where incumbent Republican Congressman Andy Barr faces off against Democrat Amy McGrath. [Editor's Note: All of KENTUCKY's polls will have closed by 6 PM Central Standard Time (0000 GMT)]
  • In TENNESSEE, the key race is that for the United States Senate seat being vacated by Republican Bob Corker: here, Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn faces off with former Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen. This seat "flipping" may (key word: may!), depending on what happens elsewhere, help the Democrats in their (admittedly) quixotic effort to take control of the Senate this time round. [Editor's Note: All of TENNESSEE's polls close at 8 PM Eastern Standard Time=7 PM Central Standard Time (0100 GMT)]
  • ARKANSAS provides only one race to keep an eye on, if only casually: that in the 2nd Congressional District, where incumbent Republican French Hill is being challenged by Democratic state legislator Clarke Tucker. Even with this, I really don't think the Grand Old Party has all that much to worry about in Arkansas this time round. [Editor's Note: the polls in ARKANSAS close at 7:30 PM Central Standard Time (0130 GMT)]
  • Similarly, OKLAHOMA only provides one race of any note: that in the 5th Congressional District, where incumbent Steve Russell is being challenged by Democrat Kendra Horn; two years ago, this District provided the smallest margin of victory for any of the Sooner State's 5 Members of Congress, all Republicans (and, even so, the victory margin for Congressman Russell was still significant)-- worth a casual "look-see", yes, as the evening wears on; but, as with Arkansas, the Sooner State will likely be more of a "rocky shore" no matter the strength (or not) of any 'Blue Wave' crashing against it! [Editor's Note: OKLAHOMA's polls close at 7 PM Central Standard Time (0100 GMT)]
  • In TEXAS, the marquee match-up is, without doubt, the challenge of incumbent Republican United States Senator Ted Cruz by Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke. If the Democrats are, indeed, going to have (however outside) a chance of taking control of the Senate in this election, the Party of the People will need some big upsets (the kinds of upset that, as the race is actually called, fairly knocks one backwards in one's chair while one cries out "WHOA!!") in at least a couple of Senate races around the country: 'Beto' beating 'Ted' in the Lone Star State would, in fact, be just that kind of upset, which is why this race (that is: until it is called) is worth watching as the returns come in. As for races for the U.S. House of Representatives, here are the races that seem the most interesting this time round: in the 2nd Congressional District, where incumbent Republican Congressman Ted Poe is retiring, Republican Dan Crenshaw squares off against Democrat Todd Litton; in the 7th Congressional District, incumbent Republican Congressman John Culberson is being challenged by Democrat Lizzie Fletcher; in the 21st Congressional District, where incumbent Republican Congressman Lamar Smith is retiring, Democrat Joseph Kopser takes on Republican Chip Roy; in the 23rd Congressional District, incumbent Republican Congressman Will Hurd faces a challenge from Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones; in the 31st Congressional District, incumbent Republican Congressman John Carter squares off with Democrat Mary Jennings Hegar; and, in the 32nd Congressional District, incumbent Republican Congressman Pete Sessions faces Democrat, and former professional athlete, Collin Allred. Clearly, the Democrats would simply love to "flip" at least a few of these and add them to whatever Net Gain in House seats they might be getting from other parts of the country. [Editor's Note: All the polls in TEXAS will have closed by 7 PM Mountain Standard Time (0100 GMT)]
  • Neither LOUISIANA, MISSISSIPPI, or ALABAMA appear as if this very core of the 'Deep South' is at all poised to offer all that much to either Major Party in terms of changing the political complexion of the U.S. House of Representatives; however, there is one race in Mississippi worth at least a casual glance as the night wears on-- that for the Class 2 United States Senate seat, a Special Election having been necessitated by the resignation, earlier this year, of long-time Republican Senator Thad Cochran. Here, temporary appointee Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith is being most directly challenged by Democratic former Congressman (and one-time Secretary of Agriculture) Mike Espy; this being, by Law, a non-partisan election (in which Party designations do not appear on the ballot), there is another Major Party candidate on the ballot- Republican state legislator Chris McDaniel. This one could even end up having to be decided in a Runoff come 27 November. [Editor's Note:ALABAMA and MISSISSIPPI's polls close at 7 PM Central Standard Time (0100 GMT), while polls in LOUISIANA close at 8 PM Central Standard Time (0200 GMT)]
  • FLORIDA is the one southern State (in large part, because it is no longer so southern [or, at least, "the further north you go, the more South it gets"]) where Democrats could well "make some noise" in this election. It all starts at the top, with the race for Governor between Democratic Mayor of Tallahassee Andrew Gillum, bidding to become the first Black Governor in Florida history, and former Republican Congressman (he resigned his seat after winning the GOP Primary) Ron DeSantis; as if this wasn't enough to grab the attention of out-of-Staters, there is also the race for the United States Senate between incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson and the Republican candidate, outgoing Florida Governor Rick Scott-- yet another race the Democrats can't afford to lose if they want to have an at least puncher's chance to take control of the Senate. The Sunshine State also provides its fair share of key U.S. House races: in the 6th Congressional District, Democrat Nancy Soderberg squares off with Republican Mike Waltz in what was, until a couple months ago, GOP gubernatorial candidate De Santis's seat; in the 15th Congressional District, where Republican Congressman Dennis Ross is retiring, Republican Ross Spano faces Democrat Kristen Carlson; in the 16th Congressional District, incumbent Republican Congressman Vern Buchanan is being challenged by Democrat David Shapiro; in the 25th Congressional District, Republican Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart faces off against Democratic former judge Mary Barzee Flores; in the 26th Congressional District incumbent Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo is being challenged by Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell; and in the 27th Congressional District, where incumbent long-time Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is retiring, Democratic former Clinton Administration Cabinet member Donna Shalala squares off against Republican Maria Salazar-- the Democrats hope to "flip" at least a few of these in order to, perhaps, add to whatever net gain in U.S. House seats they might have coming out of the 'Mid-Atlantic' (see above). [Editor's Note: All of FLORIDA's polls will have closed by 7 PM Central Standard Time (0100 GMT)]
  • The marquee race in GEORGIA is, for sure, that in which former Democratic state legislative leader Stacey Abrams, bidding to become the first Black female Governor in American History, faces off against Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp for the right to succeed outgoing Republican Governor Nathan Deal [Editor's Note: GEORGIA's polls close at 7 PM Eastern Standard Time (0000 GMT)].
  • SOUTH CAROLINA provides at least one race to keep a side eye on during the course of the evening: that in the Palmetto State's 1st Congressional District, in which Republican Katie Arrington (who defeated incumbent Congressman and former Governor, Mark Sanford, in the Primary) faces Democrat Joe Cunningham. [Editor's Note: the polls in SOUTH CAROLINA close at 7 PM Eastern Standard Time (0000 GMT)]
  • There is a similar race for the U.S. House in NORTH CAROLINA at which to take an at least casual glance, as the returns come in, as well: that in the Tar Heel State's 9th Congressional District between Republican Mark Harris (who defeated incumbent Congressman Robert Pittenger in the Primary) and Democrat Dan McCready. [Editor's Note: the polls in NORTH CAROLINA close at 7:30 PM Eastern Standard Time (0030 GMT)]
  • Which now bring us back into VIRGINIA: this time, the larger portion of the Old Dominion outside the D.C. suburbs. There are at least a few U.S. House races to watch here as the evening progresses: in the 2nd Congressional District, incumbent Republican Congressman Scott Taylor is being challenged by Democrat Elaine Luria; in the 5th Congressional District, where incumbent Republican Congressman Tom Garrett is retiring, Republican Denver Riggleman squares off against Democrat Leslie Cockburn; and in the 7th Congressional District, incumbent Republican Congressman Dave Brat (who, four years ago, famously defeated then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Primary) is being challenged by Democrat Abigail Spanberger. [Editor's Note: again, VIRGINIA's polls close at 7 PM Eastern Standard Time (0000 GMT)]

OUT WEST:

Please keep in mind that I live in New Jersey (hence, my use of the term 'Out West') and, for purposes of this piece, 'Out West' contains every State wholly west of the 100th Meridian. By the time the polls close in most of these western States, the "drama" to their east will already be well underway; that is: we will already have had vote returns from which one can discern just what each Major Party might face (in terms of control of the U.S. House, if not also the Senate) as the returns first begin to come in from this part of the country.
  • I'll start with MONTANA, in which the marquee race is that for the United States Senate, where incumbent Democratic Senator Jon Tester is defending his seat against a challenge from Republican State Auditor Max Rosendale: this is another vulnerable Senate seat currently held by a Democrat that the Party of the People cannot afford to lose if they want to maintain their admittedly slim hopes of taking control of the Senate in this election. [Editor's Note: MONTANA's polls close at 8 PM Mountain Standard Time (0300 GMT)]
  • UTAH provides a race to at least keep a casual eye on: that in the Beehive State's 4th Congressional District, where incumbent Republican Congresswoman Mia Love is being challenged by Democratic Mayor of Salt Lake City Ben McAdams. This District has been, of late, the only place in Utah in which a Democratic candidate for Congress has had even a puncher's chance-- and, if only for this reason, it might well be worth a look as the returns come in. [Editor's Note: UTAH's polls close at 8 PM Mountain Standard Time (0300 GMT)]
  • COLORADO has been, of late, the one State within the so-called 'Intermountain West' in which Democrats have proven highly competitive: its outgoing Governor, and one of its two United States Senators (neither of whom are up for re-election this year), are both Democrats. And there are a few races for the U.S. House of Representatives worth a "look-see" here: in the 3rd Congressional District, incumbent Republican Congressman Scott Tipton is being challenged by Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush; in the 4th Congressional District, incumbent Republican Congressman Ken Buck faces off against Democrat Karen McCormick; and, in the 6th Congressional District, incumbent Republican Congressman Mike Coffman squares off against Democrat Jason Crow. A "flip" or two in the Centennial State (again, depending on what is already being reported elsewhere) would, obviously, be very helpful to Democratic Party efforts to take control of the U.S. House. [Editor's Note: the polls in COLORADO close at 7 PM Mountain Standard Time (0200 GMT), but it should be noted that the Centennial State mostly votes by mail.]
  • In NEW MEXICO, the one race most worth watching is that for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2nd Congressional District, a seat being vacated by Republican Congressman Steve Pearce (no, not the Most Valuable Player in the recently concluded World Series!), who is the Grand Old Party's candidate for Governor of the Land of Enchantment: the contenders in this District are Democrat Xochitl Torres Small and Republican state legislator Yvette Herrell and this race provides at least the chance of a Democratic "flip"-- in any event, watching how the numbers fall as the returns come in may well prove instructive as to how the two Major Parties are faring overall. [Editor's Note: NEW MEXICO's polls close at 7 PM Mountain Standard Time (0200 GMT)]
  • ARIZONA provides a race that has garnered much nationwide attention: that for the United States Senate seat currently held by outgoing Republican Senator Jeff Flake, one of the few Republicans in either chamber of Congress publicly critical of much of President Trump's behavior-- if there is one place within the United States of America where President Trump most shadows a contest in which he himself is not on the ballot, it is in the Grand Canyon State! Here, Republican Martha McSally seeks to hold this seat for the Grand Old Party against her fellow Congresswoman, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema: if the Democrats can, indeed, "flip" this one, it could enhance the Party of the People's otherwise slim chances of taking control of the Senate (although a lot will, obviously, depend on the Democrats holding on to as many of their own vulnerable Senate seats discussed elsewhere in this piece). As for noteworthy races for the U.S. House of Representatives in Arizona: in the 2nd Congressional District, former Democratic Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick squares off against Republican Lea Marquez Peterson for the seat Congresswoman McSally is vacating; and, in the 8th Congressional District, Republican Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (first elected in a Special Election earlier this year) is being challenged by Democrat Hiral Vyas Tiperneni (whom Congresswoman Lesko defeated in that Special Election, 52% to 48%). [Editor's Note: the polls in ARIZONA close at 7 PM Mountain Standard Time (0200 GMT)]
  • As in Arizona, the marquee race in NEVADA is that for the United States Senate, in which incumbent Republican Senator Dean Heller is being challenged by Democratic Congresswoman Jacky Rosen-- another Senate seat the Democrats hope to "flip" in their (again, admittedly quixotic) bid to take control of the upper chamber of Congress. Meanwhile, the contest for the seat Congresswoman Rosen will be vacating- that in the 3rd Congressional District- is worth watching as well as the evening continues: here, Democrat Susie Lee tries to hold this seat for the Party of the People against the Grand Old Party's Danny Tarkanian (who narrowly lost this same seat to Jacky Rosen two years ago); a Republican "flip" here might be a key bulwark against a Democratic Party takeover of the lower chamber of Congress. [Editor's Note: the polls in NEVADA close at 7 PM Pacific Standard Time (0300 GMT)]
  • The principal interest in CALIFORNIA is in the Golden State's races for the U.S. House of Representatives: at least quite a few of these I list herein are not necessarily all that "flippable" (either way, though there are many more seats being defended by the Grand Old Party on my list), but they all provide no little interest to those of us watching the returns as they are being reported. The conventional wisdom is that the Democrats need to "flip" at least a few of those they can here in Cali in order to ultimately win control of the lower chamber of Congress, regardless of what might be (or might not be) happening to the Democratic Party potential to "flip" House seats elsewhere in the country. I'll start with the 7th Congressional District, where incumbent Democratic Congressman Ami Bera faces off against Republican Andrew Grant, if for no other reason than that the numbers coming in from this District will likely provide a "baseline" with which to compare how Democratic candidates for Congress are doing elsewhere in the State, in large part because Congressman Bera has had a history, over three biennial election cycles now (this being the fourth), of winning this seat by rather narrow margins; in the 4th Congressional District, incumbent Republican Congressman Tom McClintock squares off against Democrat Jessica Morse; in the 10th Congressional District, incumbent Republican Congressman Jeff Denham is being challenged by Democrat Josh Harder; in the 16th Congressional District, incumbent Democratic Congressman Jim Costa is facing Republican Elizabeth Heng; in the 21st Congressional District, incumbent Republican Congressman David Valadao is facing off against Democrat T J Cox; in the 22nd Congressional District, incumbent Republican Congressman Devin Nunes is facing a challenge from Democratic District Attorney Andrew Janz; in the 25th Congressional District, incumbent Republican Congressman Steve Knight is being challenged by Democrat Katie Hill; in the 39th Congressional District, where incumbent Congressman Ed Royce is retiring, Republican Assemblywoman Young Kim squares off with Democrat Gil Cisneros; in the 45th Congressional District, incumbent Republican Congresswoman Mimi Walters is facing off against Democrat Katie Porter; in the 48th Congressional District, incumbent Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher is being challenged by Democrat Harley Rouda; in the 49th Congressional District, where incumbent Republican Congressman Darrell Issa is retiring, Republican Diane Harkey squares off against Democrat Mike Levin; and, in the 50th Congressional District, incumbent Republican Congressman Duncan Duane Hunter- charged with misuse of campaign funds- is facing a challenge from Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar. [Editor's Note: the polls in CALIFORNIA close at 8 PM Pacific Standard Time (0400 GMT)]
  • The only race of at least casual interest in OREGON is that for the U.S. House seat from the 2nd Congressional District, if only because it is currently held by the only Republican in the Beaver State's Congressional delegation, incumbent Congressman Greg Walden who is seeking re-election against Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner-- not necessarily "flippable" by the Democrat, but the numbers coming in might nonetheless be interesting, where not also telling. [Editor's Note: OREGON votes by mail; ballots may be received- only at designated drop-off locations- no later than 8 PM local time. The electoral process in the Beaver State is, thereby, completed by 8 PM Pacific Standard Time (0400 GMT)]
  • WASHINGTON State provides a few contests for the U.S. House of Representatives to also keep an eye on: in the 3rd Congressional District, incumbent Republican Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Butler faces off against Democrat Carolyn Long; in the 5th Congressional District, incumbent Republican Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers is being challenged by Democrat Lisa Brown; and, in the 8th Congressional District, where incumbent Republican Congressman Dave Reichert is retiring, Republican Dino Rossi (who has, in the past, run as the GOP candidate for both Governor and U.S. Senator) squares off against Democrat Kim Schrier. [Editor's Note: WASHINGTON votes by mail; however, ballots may be received- only at designated ballot boxes- no later than 8 PM Pacific Standard Time (0400 GMT)]

MIDWEST:

I have saved the Midwest for last in this piece because, as was the case two years ago, this will be the region of the country that will, in the main, ultimately decide the election-- in this case, answering the question as to which Major Party controls at least the U.S. House of Representatives. In addition, I have also (if only for purposes of this piece) defined this region somewhat more broadly than is more usual: in addition to the six Great Lakes States and the six States of the Upper Plains, I also herein include both western and central New York and western Pennsylvania (because those portions of these last two States seem to, at least in general, vote more 'midwestern' than 'northeastern').
  • I'll start with western and central NEW YORK State: the race herein to which everyone, it seems, will be paying much attention is that in the 27th Congressional District-- incumbent Republican Congressman Chris Collins has been charged with insider trading which, if nothing else, adds another dimension to this one; his challenger is Democrat Nate McMurray, a Town Supervisor (the chief officer of what in many other States would be a 'Township') and the Democrats are hoping this seat might now actually be in play. Other House seats being targeted by the Democrats for potential "flipping" are those in the 22nd Congressional District (where incumbent Republican Congresswoman Claudia Tenney faces a challenge from Democratic state legislator Anthony Brindisi) and the 24th Congressional District (where incumbent GOP Congressman John Katko is squaring off against Democrat Dana Balter). A "flip" of at least one, if not two, of these (let alone all three!) would add to whatever net gains the Party of the People might (or might not) have made in the 'Mid-Atlantic' Region as I had defined it in this piece (see above). [Editor's Note: again, NEW YORK's polls close at 9 PM Eastern Standard Time (0200 GMT)]
  • in western PENNSYLVANIA, the race which seems to be attracting the most attention is in the 17th Congressional District, in which two incumbent Congressmen are, thanks to the court order earlier this year mandating redistricting in the Keystone State, pitted against one another: Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Keith Rothfus. Obviously, this is one contest which is truly "zero sum": for the winner's Party gains a House seat directly at the expense of the other Major Party. [Editor's Note: again, PENNSYLVANIA's polls close at 8 PM Eastern Standard Time (0100 GMT)]
  • Now it is time to move on into the Great Lakes States, where things get really competitive: whatever net gain the Democrats might (or might not) acquire from all the other Regions of the country, it is in these six States where control of the U.S. House of Representatives will truly be at stake. The first such State is OHIO which provides a slew of races to at least keep an eye on: in the 1st Congressional District, incumbent Republican Congressman Steve Chabot faces a challenge from Democratic Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval; in the 4th Congressional District, incumbent Republican Congressman Jim Jordan faces off against Democrat Janet Garrett; in the 7th Congressional District, incumbent Republican Congressman Bob Gibbs squares off against Democrat Ken Harbaugh; and in the 10th Congressional District, incumbent GOP Congressman Mike Turner is being challenged by Democrat Theresa Gasper-- not all of these races just mentioned are necessarily "flippable"; certainly, some are more "flippable" than others, but they all bear at least some watching as the returns come in. But the race that seems to have garnered the most attention is that in the Buckeye State's 12th Congressional District: only three months ago, Republican Congressman Troy Balderson first won this seat in a Special Election by a narrow margin over Democratic Franklin County Recorder Danny O'Connor-- thus, this is something of a "grudge match" in this contest for a full two-year term; and the way the numbers fall, as more and more returns come in, will say much about the Republicans' ability to maintain control of the lower chamber in Congress (depending on what the returns, at the same time, might also be showing about the other Ohio races already mentioned). [Editor's Note: the polls in OHIO close at 7:30 PM Eastern Standard Time (0030 GMT)]
  • Without a doubt, the most important race in INDIANA is that for the United States Senate between incumbent Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly and Republican Mike Braun, a former state legislator. Senator Donnelly's is one of the more vulnerable Democratic seats up for grabs this time round and the Democrats' (however outside) chances of taking control of the Senate greatly depend on holding on to this one. [Editor's Note: All of INDIANA's polls will have closed by 6 PM Central Standard Time (0000 GMT)]
  • Moving on to MICHIGAN, there are at least a few U.S. House races worth watching as the night wears on; in the 7th Congressional District, Democratic state legislator Gretchen Driskell takes on incumbent Republican Congressman Tim Walberg; in the 8th Congressional District, incumbent Republican Congressman Mike Bishop faces a challenge from Democrat Elissa Slotkin; and, in the 11th Congressional District, Democrat Haley Stevens and Republican Lena Rose Epstein square off in a contest to determine who will succeed outgoing Republican Congressman Dave Trott. A "flip" or two here, added to "flips" in House seats elsewhere around the country, may prove altogether important to the Democrats' chances of taking control of the lower chamber of Congress. [Editor's Note: All of MICHIGAN's polls will have closed by 8 PM Central Standard Time (0200 GMT)]
  • WISCONSIN provides at least two races of major interest: the first is the race for Governor in which Republican Scott Walker is bidding for re-election to a third term against Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers. The interest here is, indeed, the same as that as regards the re-election bids of other incumbent Republican Governors further east (as already discussed above); but added to this is the fact that Governor Walker has been a political "survivor": first elected Governor in 2010 by a 52-47% margin, Walker survived a Recall Election (by 53%-46%) two years later, and then was re-elected four years ago by yet another 52%-47% margin; how Governor Walker's numbers this time round might compare to what he received in these three previous contests will be an important 'tell' as regards the current political/electoral climate in the Upper Midwest. More interesting, however, is the race for the House seat in the Badger State's 1st Congressional District currently held by outgoing Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan: here, Republican University Regent Bryan Steil faces Democrat Randy Bryce-- there is no doubt the Democrats would just love to "flip" this one! Other than this, the only other House seat in Wisconsin worth much attention is that in the 6th Congressional District in which Democrat Dan Kohl, nephew of former United States Senator Herb Kohl, is challenging incumbent Republican Congressman Glenn Grothman. [Editor's Note: the polls in WISCONSIN close at 8 PM Central Standard Time (0200 GMT)]
  • ILLINOIS provides another opportunity to compare the numbers coming in during the re-election bid of an incumbent Republican Governor-- in this case Bruce Rauner-- to how he did four years ago (51% to 46% in the course of defeating a Democratic incumbent); this time round, Governor Rauner faces Democrat J B Pritzker. But the Land of Lincoln also gives us at least a few House races to watch as the returns come in: in the 6th Congressional District, where Democrat Sean Casten challenges incumbent Republican Congressman Peter Roskam; in the 12th Congressional District, where Democratic State's Attorney Brendan Kelly takes on incumbent Republican Congressman Mike Bost; in the 13th Congressional District, where Democrat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan challenges incumbent Republican Congressman Rodney Davis; and in the 14th Congressional District, where Democrat Lauren Underwood squares off against incumbent Republican Congressman Randy Hultgren. As is the case with the first four races for U.S. House of Representatives I specifically cited in Ohio (see above) not all of these are equally "flippable"-- but they all bear at least some attention as the evening progresses. [Editor's Note: the polls in ILLINOIS close at 7 PM Central Standard Time (0100 GMT)]
  • The last of the Great Lakes States is MINNESOTA: here, there are four House races that will certainly largely determine just how easily, or not, the Democrats will have it in their bid to take control of the lower chamber of Congress. In the 1st Congressional District, incumbent Democratic Congressman Tim Walz is leaving his seat because he is the Party of the People's candidate for Governor-- Democrat Dan Feehan faces off against Republican Jim Hagedorn for the right to succeed him: the Grand Old Party "flipping" this one would certainly put a crimp in Democrats' hopes; meanwhile, in the 2nd Congressional District, Democrat Angie Craig challenges incumbent Republican Congressman Jason Lewis; in the 3rd Congressional District, Democrat Dean Phillips takes on incumbent Republican Congressman Erik Paulsen; and, in the 8th Congressional District, where incumbent Democratic Congressman Rick Nolan is retiring, Democratic former state legislator Joe Radinovich squares off against Republican County Commissioner Pete Stauber. This is what makes the Land of 10,000 Lakes so interesting: here, the Grand Old Party has the same chance to "flip" U.S. House seats as does the Party of the People! [Editor's Note: the polls in MINNESOTA close at 8 PM Central Standard Time (0200 GMT)]
  • Moving on now to IOWA, where three U.S. House races provide at least somewhat "flippable" possibilities for Democrats (although whether or not any of these will "flip" is the question of the day, obviously): in the 1st Congressional District, Democratic state legislator Abby Finkenauer challenges incumbent Republican Congressman Rod Blum; in the 3rd Congressional District, Democrat Cindy Axne takes on incumbent Republican Congressman David Young; and, in the 4th Congressional District, Democrat J D Scholten squares off against incumbent Republican Congressman Steve King. [Editor's Note: IOWA's polls close at 9 PM Central Standard Time (0300 GMT)]
  • In MISSOURI, the race to watch is that for the United States Senate, in which incumbent Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill is trying to defend her seat against a challenge from Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley. Another potentially vulnerable Senate seat currently held by the Democrats, any real chance for the Democrats taking control of the upper chamber of Congress largely hinges upon Senator McCaskill's ability to hold on to this one. [Editor's Note: MISSOURI's polls close at 7 PM Central Standard Time (0100 GMT)]
  • Once one moves out into the Great Plains proper (the Dakotas, Nebraska and Kansas), the territory becomes much more solidly Republican: thus, there is really only one key race to keep a close eye on within these four States-- that for the United States Senate seat from NORTH DAKOTA currently held by Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp: her opponent is Republican Congressman-at Large Kevin Cramer. As is the case with Missouri Senator McCaskill (as noted above), Senator Heitkamp is a vulnerable Democrat (in her case in an otherwise Republican-friendly State) and it may well prove quite difficult to stop the Grand Old Party from actually "flipping" this one. [Editor's Note: All of the polls in NORTH DAKOTA will have closed by 7 PM Mountain Standard Time=8 PM Mountain Standard Time (0200 GMT)]

And in CONCLUSION...

A prediction? From me?!... Nah!

But I will say this: if I were a political version of a Sports Bookie, I would set the Over/Under at 222.5 House seats for the Democrats (so no one could "push"): that is, with 218 seats in the U.S. House of the Representatives necessary for a Majority, I would not be at all surprised to see the Party of the People picking up roughly 4 to 5 seats more than they would need in this year's General Election... but note that their gaining a Majority in the lower chamber of Congress would not be by all that much! As for the United States Senate, I don't, right now, think the Democrats can take control of the United States Senate: yes, they could well "flip" the Senate seats in, say, Arizona and Nevada only, at the same time, losing two or more seats the Democrats currently hold elsewhere. If the geographic path for a Democratic House Majority is, indeed, so rather narrow, it is all that much tighter for a Democratic Majority in the Senate.

What might change this come Tuesday? Some serious upsets as regards Senate races, in States in which a Democrat would not be at all expected to win, given the political demographics of moment (I have already referred above, if only as an obvious example, to what kind of upset Congressman Beto O'Rourke [Democrat] knocking off Senator Ted Cruz [Republican] of Texas would be; but the Democrats would also need at least one or more like it). Simply take a look at our site's Senatorial Primaries At a Glance table, however, and it can be easily seen there are rather few opportunities for Democratic candidates for the Senate to do just this: here putting aside the question of just how many of the vulnerable Senate seats currently held by Democrats-- in West Virginia, in Indiana, in Missouri, in North Dakota, in Montana (even in both New Jersey and Florida!)-- can the Party of the People possibly hang on to.

The one thing that might prove different as regards to what I have written in the first paragraph of this concluding section would be Democratic candidates for the House doing better than even I think they will do in Tuesday's Election: in such a case, the Democrats would then win even more House seats than my 'line' of 222.5 suggests and, in turn, this could have an effect elsewhere on the ballot in a State like, say, Nebraska. More than likely, however, even were the Democrats to so "pad their lead" in the U.S. House of Representatives, it would have very little concomitant effect on most of the United States Senate seats currently held by Republicans and up for grabs in this election.

Yet, as with Sports, so it is with Politics: the winners of the "game" are not at all determined by the prognostications of pundits. I am rather certain there will be at least a few surprises once the returns are coming on throughout Tuesday night on into the wee hours of the morning of Wednesday 7 November-- for there almost always are (the candidate thought to be just about sure of losing who, nonetheless, pulls it out via late returns; a candidate who looked as if he/she had no real chance actually squeaking by into victory): it will be these, scattered hither and yon across the Nation, that might end up making these 2018 Midterm Elections come out at least somewhat differently in the end from that which is most expected, whether in favor of one Major Party or the other.

However, above all else, if you are registered to vote anywhere in these United States of America, then VOTE!... above all else, there is no better conclusion to a piece about an upcoming Election.

 


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