Decision Day Arrives for American Voters

Republicans’ across-the-board control of Congress is at stake in Tuesday’s midterm election, along with command of governors’ offices and statehouses around the country.

The president has barnstormed the nation this fall, holding multiple rallies a week, mindful that his future will be shaped by Election Day. “Even though I’m not on the ballot, in a certain way I am on the ballot,” Trump said Monday.

A guide to what to watch as results come in Tuesday night. All times are EST.

THE TIMELINE

Polls start closing at 6 p.m. in Kentucky. But things will really get rolling at 7 p.m., when polls close in Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina and Virginia. Another wave of numbers will begin coming in after 7:30 p.m. from North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia. A big chunk of data will come after 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. when states such as Texas, New York, Michigan and Pennsylvania begin reporting. The 11 p.m. batch of states includes California, home to several competitive congressional races. Alaska, where polls close at 1 a.m. Wednesday, will end the night.

THE EARLY VOTE

Much of America has already voted. Based on reports from 49 states, through Monday, at least 36.4 million people voted in the midterms before Election Day. And in a sign of the growing influence of early voting, 30 states reported exceeding their total number of mail and in-person votes cast ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.

A big question: Does it mean a higher turnout?

Turnout in midterm elections is typically near 40 percent, much lower than presidential elections, where turnout has hit around 60 percent in recent cycles. University of Florida professor Michael McDonald, who studies voting patterns, estimated recently that about 45 percent of eligible voters could cast ballots this year, a turnout level that hasn’t been seen in nearly a half century.

EARLY TEA LEAVES

For an early read on how things are going, keep an eye on two congressional races in Virginia: a district in the Washington suburbs represented by Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock and another in the Richmond area held by Republican Rep. Dave Brat.

Trump has struggled with college-educated women in the suburbs and Comstock’s district could be among the first casualties as she faces Democrat Jennifer Wexton. Brat, meanwhile, won his seat by upsetting then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the 2014 GOP primary. But this time he is facing a serious threat from Democrat Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA officer.

Another district to watch is in Kentucky — the Lexington-area battle pitting third-term Republican Rep. Andy Barr against Democrat Amy McGrath, a retired Marine fighter pilot. Trump won the 6th District by more than 15 percentage points in 2016. But McGrath has pushed Barr to the edge with the help of sharp campaign ads that went viral.

SOURCE: The Associated Press