What We Know So Far
- Democrats will take control of the House and Republicans will hold on to the Senate.
- Many well-known Democrats lost, but there's also a new crop of winners on the left.
- Democrats picked up at least 23 seats in Philadelphia, Miami, Chicago, and Denver suburbs.
- Sen. Ted Cruz defeated Rep. Beto O'Rourke in Texas.
- Democrats Joe Donnelly and Heidi Heitkamp have lost their Senate seats to Republicans.
- Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota are the first Muslim women in Congress.
- Republican Marsha Blackburn won a Tennessee Senate seat, despite Taylor Swift endorsing her opponent.
- Voters upheld a transgender rights law by a landslide in Massachusetts.
- Colorado's Jared Polis was elected as the first openly gay governor in the US.
- Florida voters restored voting rights for more than 1 million convicted felons.
Republican congressman Duncan Hunter has won reelection despite being indicted
Congressman Duncan Hunter, a California Republican, has won reelection despite being indicted on charges that he and his wife used more than $250,000 in campaign funds on vacation and other personal purposes.
Prosecutors say the expenses included vacations to destinations including Italy and Hawaii. Hunter and his wife, Margaret, are also accused of using more than $250,000 in campaign funds to pay for their child’s school tuition and dental procedures.
Hunter also allegedly spent campaign money on five individuals with whom he was having a "personal relationship," according to the indictment.
In all, Hunter and his wife face 60 counts to which they have pleaded not guilty. As a result, House Speaker Paul Ryan temporarily removed Hunter from his committee roles, including his spot on the Armed Services Committee.
A Democrat in Montana held on to his Senate seat despite Trump’s best efforts to knock him out
Democrat Jon Tester narrowly defeated Republican newcomer Matthew Rosendale after a tight race defined, in part, by President Trump’s active interest in the sitting senator’s defeat.
Tester, first elected in 2006, earned the president’s ire in April by releasing a report as ranking minority member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs that questioned the suitability of Trump’s pick for VA secretary, Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson.
Amid the report’s accusations, which included unethical practices in prescribing medicine, an “explosive” temper, and drinking on the job, Jackson withdrew his nomination, leaving Trump furious and blaming the Montana senator. “Secret Service has just informed me that Senator Jon Tester’s statements on Admiral Jackson are not true,” the president tweeted on Apr. 28. “Tester should lose race in Montana. Very dishonest and sick!”
From that point on, Trump worked to make Tester’s race against State Auditor Rosendale personal. The president’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., also made a point of campaigning in the state. The Republican candidate’s biggest disadvantage in the race — one highlighted by Tester during debates and in campaign ads — was his status as a newcomer not just to politics but to the state itself. Rosendale, a real estate developer, moved to Montana from Maryland in 2002; Tester is a lifelong Montana resident and farmer.
Republicans banked on Trump’s popularity in the state, which he won by more than 20 percentage points in 2016, to carry Rosendale over the finish line. At a rally in July, the president boasted that he won Montana “by so many points that I don’t have to come here,” while attacking Tester for allegedly failing the state’s citizens. By Election Day, Trump had visited Montana four times for campaign rallies — tied with Indiana for the most visits to any state during the midterm election cycle.
Rick Scott and Bill Nelson may be headed for a recount
Rick Scott and Bill Nelson may be headed for a recount in Florida’s Senate race, where Scott was leading by a thin margin.
“We are proceeding to a recount,” incumbent Senator Nelson said in a statement put out by his campaign on Wednesday morning.
The Florida Secretary of State had not ordered a recount as of Wednesday afternoon, a spokesperson told BuzzFeed News.
The campaign will be contacting voters whose ballots may not have been counted, and the statement said that in the meantime they intend “to have observers in all 67 counties watching for any irregularities, mistakes or unusual partisan activities.”
The Nelson campaign, citing numbers from the New York Times and the AP also said in a second statement that there are "an estimated 113,000 votes to be counted," and that these will come from "areas where Nelson would be expected to win by 24.9%."
"This race is over. It's a sad way for Bill Nelson to end his career. He is desperately trying to hold on to something that no longer exists," said Scott spokesperson Chris Hartline.
Scott had declared victory just before midnight on Tuesday, but Nelson declined to concede, saying the vote count was too close to call.
BuzzFeed News and Decision Desk HQ had also called the race for Scott around 11:30 p.m., with vote totals showing Scott up by 51,315 votes, or about .64% at that time. As votes continued to come in, that margin narrowed. The Florida Board of Elections shows Scott is up by a margin of just 30,161 votes, or .37% as of Wednesday morning.
Florida law mandates a vote recount by machine when the vote difference is less than half of one percent. Totals are due by noon on Saturday, at which point Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner would be required to order a recount if the current vote difference is maintained.
Scott, who is currently Governor of the state, spent millions of his own money on the race, making it one of the most expensive of the 2018 election cycle. He was first elected with a wave of tea party candidates in 2010. Nelson, who was the incumbent, has represented Florida in the Senate on and off since 1978.
Student activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, where 17 students were killed in a gun massacre in February, had repeatedly called out Scott for taking money from the NRA.
“I’m, like, shaking with anger right now,” said MSD student and March for Our Lives organizer Jaclyn Corin, reacting to election wins by multiple NRA-backed candidates in the state.
Trump called the midterm election a big win, even though Republicans lost the House
President Trump spent the morning after Election Day doing a victory lap on Twitter, despite losing control of the House.
“Those that worked with me in this incredible Midterm Election, embracing certain policies and principles, did very well. Those that did not, say goodbye!” he tweeted, while also congratulating Florida Governor-elect Ron DeSantis.
DeSantis beat Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in a race that came down to just over 70,000 votes after polls had predicted a Gillum win. The contest was marked by racist advertising against Gillum in the home stretch, and by multiple visits from Trump, who spends much of his time at his Palm Beach resort Mar-A-Lago.
Trump also claimed to have received “many” calls congratulating him on the outcome, including from unnamed “foreign nations (friends)” who he said were awaiting election results to negotiate trade deals.
Devin Nunes, a top Trump defender against the Russia investigation, has won reelection
Rep. Devin Nunes won reelection in his reliably Republican Central California district, beating Democratic newcomer Andrew Janz by double digits Tuesday night.
The Republican has represented California’s 22nd District since 2003 and gained national name recognition the last two years over his widely partisan handling of the House’s Russia investigation as the chair of the House Intelligence Committee. The committee’s direction under his leadership drew the ire of Democrats nationwide, as well as criticism from some of Nunes’ constituents, who felt their representative was ignoring local concerns in favor of national political grandstanding.
That opened the door for a Democratic challenge from Janz, a relatively unknown Fresno prosecutor. Janz raised over $8 million for his campaign, a massive haul for a political newcomer.
But Nunes was happy to campaign against the Fresno Bee, a local newspaper that he accused of having a “leftist, liberal, socialist” agenda in a 38-page magazine that his campaign mailed to more than 100,000 people.
The Bee endorsed Janz, declining to support Nunes for the first time since he ran in 2002.
“Voters in the 22nd District have a chance to become a model for the nation,” the paper’s editorial board wrote. “They can elect a representative who will both help them with their needs, listen to their concerns and invite them into the process, and chart a bipartisan course that the nation must find if it is to meet the challenges of the future.”
An incumbent Republican eked out a victory in a Nebraska swing district, a blow to national progressives
Incumbent Republican Don Bacon beat out Democrat newcomer Kara Eastman Tuesday in the race for Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District.
Bacon was himself a political newcomer when he won the seat in 2016, defeating incumbent Democrat Brad Ashford by a slim margin. As a congressman, he has voted in line with President Donald Trump’s positions 97% of the time, including with a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act — a move for which he was heavily criticized during town halls in his district in 2017.
Eastman, a nonprofit director, beat out establishment favorite and former congressman Ashford during the Democratic primary in May after running a progressive campaign highlighting her support for single-payer health care. Medicare for All is still considered a risky position for Democrats, particularly those in swing states, but Eastman was championed by progressives who see it as a solution to the country’s health care problems.
The candidates clashed on nearly every issue during debates, presenting two very different views for a traditionally swing district that includes liberal-leaning Omaha and its conservative-minded suburbs.
Gov. Scott Walker has lost Wisconsin, denying the Republican a third term in office
Once considered the future of the Republican party, Gov. Scott Walker will now at least have to pause his political career after he was beaten by the state's schools superintendent, Tony Evers.
Walker's team said the race was "too close to call" and Walker was unwilling to concede defeat — but the Associated Press called the result at 1:24 a.m. CST.
Walker, 51, was first elected in 2010, boosted by the tea party movement, and launched a presidential bid in 2016. He had survived a recall vote and two gubernatorial races.
Democrats have won the Nevada Senate seat held by Dean Heller, who was on-again, off-again with Trump
Republican Sen. Dean Heller — who’s been both threatened by and embraced by President Trump — has lost to challenger Rep. Jacky Rosen, handing a critical seat to the Democrats.
Heller was the only Republican Senate incumbent up for reelection this year, in a state that Hillary Clinton won in 2016. Since that election, Heller has moved from being one of Trump’s most vocal critics in the Republican Party to an ally.
In the lead-up to November 2016, Heller said he was “100% against Clinton, 99% against Trump.”
Then, in July 2017, during a meeting with Trump on his health care legislation push, the president issued a not-so-veiled threat to Heller, who was sitting right next to him:
This was the one we were worried about. You weren’t there. But you’re gonna be. You’re gonna be. Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he? And I think the people of your state, which I know very well, I think they’re gonna appreciate what you hopefully will do. Any senator who votes against starting debate is really telling America that you’re fine with Obamacare. But being fine with Obamacare isn’t enough for another reason. Because it’s gone. It’s failed. It’s not gonna be around.
But all was eventually forgiven.
The president held a rally in October in Nevada for Heller’s campaign. “Once he and I got on the same page, and now we are always on the same page, he has been as smart and tough and strong as anyone in Washington,” Trump said. Heller has since called him “a great leader.”
Rosen, a Democrat who’s touted her bipartisanship, seized on the opportunity to win over conservatives disaffected with the Trump administration. Polling placed the two candidates within a point or two of each other for weeks before the election.
Ultimately, Rosen defeated Heller, 51–46%.
A Democrat beat Trump's pick for South Carolina's 1st Congressional District
Democrat Joe Cunningham will represent South Carolina's 1st Congressional District after beating Republican Katie Arrington, who'd received support from President Trump.
Arrington beat incumbent Rep. Mark Sanford in the primary election after Trump tweeted about her, and the president credited his involvement for her win. Sanford, a longtime Republican politician in the state, had been critical of the president and said he refused to put loyalty to Trump above his loyalty to the US Constitution and his principles.
Over the campaign, Arrington and Cunningham differed on health care, offshore drilling, and reproductive rights. Ultimately, Cunningham won by just over 3,000, winning 50.7% of the vote.
With Georgia's gubernatorial race still too close to call, Democrat Stacey Abrams says voters with get a "do-over"
Democrat Stacey Abrams refused to concede Georgia's gubernatorial election early Wednesday and suggested the race was headed to a runoff after thousands of voters were stymied by long lines and broken machines.
"Votes remain to be counted," Abrams told supporters. "We believe our chance for a stronger Georgia is just within reach, but we cannot seize it until all voices are heard."
With 97% of precincts reporting, Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, who is also Georgia's secretary of state, was leading with 51%. Abrams was trailing with 48% of the vote.
The governor's race in Georgia has been one of the most contentious and closely watched in the country, with the candidates clashing over voting rights up to Election Day.
Earlier on Tuesday, a group of voters sued Kemp in an attempt to stop him from overseeing the election.
"This election has tested our faith," Abrams said. "I'm not going to name names but some have worked to take our voices away."
She added that voters would get "a do-over," implying that the race would go to a runoff.
"Friends, we are still on the verge of history and the best is yet to come," Abrams said.
—Stephanie K. Baer
The biggest Democratic stars of the midterms lost tonight
A high-profile group of Democratic candidates who defined a rising, diverse, progressive populist generation lost their races Tuesday night, even as their party was left victorious — and scouring newly elected members of Congress from New Jersey to Kansas for a new set of stars.
The names you’ve heard are Beto O’Rourke out of Texas, Georgia's Stacey Abrams (who is not conceding her race early Wednesday morning), and Florida's Andrew Gillum, who was featured in a Vox article Tuesday speculating on his presidential plans. They have all been the subjects of countless national media profiles, including by BuzzFeed News.
Those Democratic powerhouses lost their respective battles Tuesday night, but a new, wildly diverse, and largely female group clinched major wins in their quests to join the House of Representatives. Some of them were widely expected to win and on their way to national recognition. Others kept themselves largely out of the national conversation, running to win local races in suburban districts far from the coastal media centers.
—Nidhi Prakash, Molly Hensley-Clancy, Brianna Sacks, Azeen Ghorayshi, Ben Smith
Women candidates won a historic number of elections on Tuesday
In a historic victory for women candidates, at least 110 won elections across the country Tuesday night, taking over high-level political positions including House seats, Senate seats, and governorships. Next year, a record number of women candidates, most of them Democrats, will be in Congress.
The women who won Tuesday night were a key part of Democrats taking the majority in the House. Eighty-four of the total number of Democrats who have won seats in House so far are women, pushing the party to a several-seat majority.
Among the notable victories Tuesday night, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib became the first two Muslim women ever elected to Congress and Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland became the first two Native American women to win election to the House as well. Several Democratic women flipped districts that had been Republican for years, like Lizzie Fletcher, whose Texas district had voted Republican for five decades.
“This is thrilling. There is going to be a historic number of women walking onto the floor of the US House in January … they’re going to change the way things work,” Stephanie Schriock, the president of EMILY’s List — a PAC that helps “pro-choice, Democratic women” to run for office — told BuzzFeed News Tuesday night.
Here are some of the biggest moments of the 2018 midterm elections
Democrats took the House and Republicans kept the Senate, Beto O'Rourke lost to Sen. Ted Cruz, some very controversial candidates won, and there were a lot of firsts.
Iowa Republican Steve King holds on to his House seat
Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa hung on to his congressional seat Tuesday night, despite the deadly synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh drawing attention to his history of racist and anti-Semitic comments.
In doing so, King defeated Democrat J.D. Scholten, a 38-year-old former minor league baseball player, the Associated Press reported.
King, who has represented a sprawling Northwest Iowa district since 2003, has repeatedly made racist statements, speaking often about his fear of the US losing its white Christian majority to immigrants and people of color, with little outcry from his Republican colleagues.
Beto O'Rourke thanked supporters in his concession speech: "I'm so fucking proud of you guys"
Democrat Beto O'Rourke expressed gratitude to his supporters in El Paso after conceding to incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz in the Texas Senate race late Tuesday.
"I'm so fucking proud of you guys," O'Rourke said. "I am forever grateful to every single one of you for making this possible. I believe in you, I believe in Texas, I believe in this country, and I love you more than words can express."
O'Rourke, a representative of Texas’s 16th Congressional District, mounted an impressive challenge against Cruz and garnered support nationwide, but it wasn't enough.
"I am as inspired, I am as hopeful as I have ever been in my life, and tonight's loss does nothing to diminish the way I feel about Texas or this country," O'Rourke said, adding that he offered to help Cruz, "to ensure that Texas helps to lead this country in a way that brings us back together around the big things that we want to achieve."
—Stephanie K. Baer
Pelosi pledged bipartisan efforts as Democrats took control of the House
Nancy Pelosi, who has been the House minority leader, pledged bipartisan efforts as Democrats were on track to take control. “A Democratic Congress will work on solutions that will bring us together because we have all have had enough of division,” she told the crowd of supporters and volunteers. “People want peace … and unity for our country.”
Pelosi vowed that the new Congress would focus on issues important to the people, such as lowering prescription drug prices, ensuring that health care did not exclude those with preexisting conditions, and “draining the swamp” of dark money in elections.
She also said Tuesday's results are more than a referendum on either Democrats or Republicans, and are about “restoring the Constitution's checks and balances to the Trump administration.”
According to her spokesperson, President Trump called Pelosi late Tuesday night to “extend his congratulations on winning a Democratic House majority.”
It’s been a good night for Democrats in Virginia
Democrats in Virginia reelected Tim Kaine to the Senate and now control seven of the state's 11 seats in the House of Representatives.
Three women Democrats — Jennifer Wexton, Abigail Spanberger, and Elaine Luria — unseated their opponents in districts that historically favored Republicans.
Wexton, a former prosecutor and state senator, flipped the first seat in the House in favor of Democrats by defeating Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock — one of the most vulnerable seats in this year’s election.
Spanberger defeated incumbent Dave Brat in a historically Republican district. She became the first Democrat to win the 7th Congressional District’s seat since 1970.
Elaine Luria unseated Republican Rep. Scott Taylor, who faced allegations that his campaign had tried to help an independent candidate get on the ballot to take votes away from Luria.
The only key race to go to a Republican in Virginia was that won by Denver Riggleman, the candidate accused of circulating Bigfoot erotica and later of “liking” racist, sexist, and otherwise offensive Facebook pages.
Riggleman won a US House seat against Democrat Leslie Cockburn in the state’s 5th Congressional District, which includes Charlottesville.
Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 running mate, easily won reelection for a Senate seat against Republican challenger Corey Stewart, who has praised the Confederate flag and was criticized for associating with Jason Kessler, the organizer of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.
"Virginia showed who we are and who we aren’t," Kaine said during his victory speech Tuesday. "It will be the Democrats who will eventually make sure women are represented in all our legislative bodies."
—Mary Ann Georgantopoulos
Elizabeth Warren's victory speech sounded like a pitch for 2020
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren used her victory speech on Tuesday to applaud women for getting involved in politics, in a speech that sounded like a pitch for the 2020 presidential election.
"We came to fight for decency. We came to fight for justice. We came to fight for change. And now we take that fight to Washington to make the government work not just for the rich and the powerful but make it work for everyone else," Warren said.
Her supporters were given "persist" signs to hold, a nod to Mitch McConnell's infamous "Nevertheless, she persisted" line uttered about Warren in 2017.
"We have come so far together: fought together, cried together, resisted together, and sure as hell persisted together. Tonight we send a message to the world: We’re just getting started," said Warren, to cheers.
Warren applauded women in politics, from candidates and political organizers to those who've marched in rallies.
"This resistance began with women and it is being led by women tonight," said Warren.
"Two years ago, on a very dark election night, millions of women watched in horror as Donald Trump was elected president. They didn’t like it. But they didn’t whimper. They didn’t whine. They fought back," she said.
Warren has served as a Democratic senator since 2013 and is widely considered as a likely 2020 candidate. Apart from applauding fellow Massachusetts candidates, such as Ayanna Pressley, Warren focused her speech on national issues.
"Donald Trump and his corrupt friends have spent the last two years building walls of anger, division, and resentment," Warren said. "Tonight as the first cracks begin to appear in that wall, let us declare that our fight is not over until we have transformed our government into one that works not just for the rich and the powerful, but for everyone."
West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin is keeping his Senate seat in a state Trump won in a landslide
Incumbent Joe Manchin edged out Republican challenger Patrick Morrisey in West Virginia’s Senate race.
Manchin, the state’s former governor, won his seat in a special election after the death of longtime senator Robert Byrd in 2010. He was reelected in 2012, but since that time West Virginia has shifted further to the right — President Trump won the state in 2016 by a whopping 42 percentage points, winning every one of the state’s counties.
Riding high on the president’s popularity — Manchin was labeled one of 2018’s most vulnerable Democrats — Republicans seized on the opportunity to maintain their control of the Senate by flipping the West Virginia seat.
Manchin is the fourth Democrat to secure reelection in a state Trump won, but his victory comes long after Republicans clinched enough races to keep their majority in the Senate.
Two-term state Attorney General Morrisey earned Trump’s support early in the Republican primary and the president held three campaign rallies for the nominee in the months leading up to the election. “Patrick has great Energy & Stamina-I need his VOTE to MAGA. Total Endorsement!” the president tweeted in August before one such rally.
Almost one month to the day before the election, faced with his opponent’s growing popularity and conservative constituents, Manchin announced his support for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, making him the only Senate Democrat to cast his vote for the controversial judge. The move infuriated Manchin’s Democratic base in his home state, and many Republicans, including his opponent and the president’s son Donald Trump Jr., mocked him for waiting until after it was clear that Kavanaugh would be nominated to announce his own swing vote.
“He waited until the last possible minute after Susan Collins declared for him to take a position, effectively allowing Maine to decide how West Virginia’s going to decide,” Morrisey told the Associated Press in an interview. “We shouldn’t reward that kind of cowardice.”
Republicans have flipped four seats in the Senate, potentially expanding their majority
Republicans have not only held on to their majority in the Senate, but could be expanding it after wrestling four seats away from Democrats on Tuesday.
With victories in Indiana, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Florida, the GOP managed to hold on to control, even after the House appeared to be destined for a Democrat majority.
In Indiana, Republican Mike Braun was able to oust Sen. Joe Donnelly, and Josh Hawley defeated Claire McCaskill in Missouri.
Former governor Rick Scott in Florida and Kevin Cramer in North Dakota were also poised to win.
Senate seats held by Republicans in Nevada and Arizona still appeared vulnerable late Tuesday night, but Republicans were positioned to build on their razor-thin majority of 51 seats by the time all votes were counted.
A Republican held on to his seat in the Philadelphia suburbs, after Trump flipped the state red
Republican incumbent Brian Fitzpatrick triumphed over Democrat newcomer Scott Wallace in the race for Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District, a true swing seat that encompasses South Philadelphia and surrounding suburbs.
The district was redrawn earlier this year after a gerrymandering legal challenge went all the way to the Supreme Court, but even with that, it remained a traditionally toss-up race. For example, it includes Bucks County, which voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton — but also for Republican Sen. Pat Toomey — in 2016.
Fitzpatrick, a former FBI agent and prosecutor, was elected before the redrawing in 2016 and found himself representing a district where 54% of his constituents disapproved of Republican President Trump when the new lines were drawn earlier this year. He worked to appeal to undecided Democrats throughout his campaign, pointing to his record as a moderate, citing his vote against the repeal of the Affordable Health Act and opposition to the executive order that barred citizens from certain Muslim countries from entering the US.
Political newcomer Wallace, a philanthropist with a net worth between $127 million and $309 million, ran his campaign as an outsider who would represent his constituents without pressure from special interest groups, and emphasized his refusal to accept corporate donations in his ads. The Democrat pledged to donate his congressional salary within the district and attacked his opponent for voting for the 2017 tax bill, which he said helped the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. In the months leading up to the election, he worked to paint Fitzpatrick as a Trump supporter, banking on the president’s unpopularity in the district.
Jim Jordan, amid questions about a college wrestling sex abuse scandal, easily won reelection
Republican Jim Jordan coasted to victory, easily defeating longtime Democratic challenger Janet Garrett and paving the way for a possible leadership role in the new Congress.
Jordan won the race for Ohio's 4th Congressional District on Tuesday night with 65% of the vote.
The lawmaker faced national scrutiny during the last months of his campaign over accusations from several former Ohio State University student-athletes that Jordan failed to report their sexual assaults at the hands of the wrestling team doctor while working at the university as an assistant coach. Jordan, a former college wrestler who coached at OSU from 1987 to 1995, denied any knowledge of the alleged abuse.
A staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, Jordan has represented his heavily gerrymandered district since 2007. He is one of the founding members and leaders of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which helped to unseat then-speaker John Boehner in 2015. In July, he announced his candidacy for speaker of the house in a letter vowing to follow through on the president’s legislative agenda if elected to the leadership position after Paul Ryan confirmed he would be resigning from Congress.
Garrett, a retired schoolteacher who served in the Peace Corps, also ran and lost against Jordan in 2014, by 35 points, and 2016, by 36 points.
Her 2018 campaign marked a significant increase in funding from previous races and attracted national donors online, particularly after Jordan attacked Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein during a tense House Judiciary Committee hearing in June. In October, Garrett’s campaign released a Handmaid’s Tale–themed ad targeting Jordan’s “anti-women” agenda, citing his voting record on issues such as abortion rights and equal pay.
Democrats won this Northern Virginia congressional seat for the first time since 1970
Democrat Abigail Spanberger pulled out a victory over incumbent Dave Brat in a historically Republican district that was unexpectedly too close to call in the polls until Election Day.
Virginia’s 7th Congressional District became the focus of national attention in 2014, when Brat unseated then–House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a stunning Republican primary upset. Upon entering Congress, he became a member of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus, which staged a successful coup against Speaker John Boehner in 2015. Brat emerged as one of the House’s most hardline conservatives and won the support and endorsement of Trump in October.
Spanberger, a former CIA agent, made her first foray into politics with the congressional race, citing her lack of Washington experience as a positive that demonstrated she would work across party lines and working to appeal to moderate Republicans whom tea party candidate Brat alienated when he overthrew the GOP establishment.
Brat’s campaign worked to paint Spanberger as a hardcore liberal, a label that failed to stick when the two candidates met in their only debate. The Democrat candidate emphasized during the race that she would not support Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House if elected when Brat accused her of supporting “the Nancy Pelosi liberal agenda.”
Spanberger cited her federal law enforcement background when Brat brought up immigration issues and attacked the congressman for voting against protections for pre-existing conditions and for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
Michigan voters have legalized marijuana
Michigan voters puff, puff, passed a measure to legalize marijuana on Tuesday, joining a wave of nine other states to break away from federal prohibition amid a seemingly unstoppable surge of public support to let adults use, buy, and sell the drug in peace.
State election officials showed the measure passing 58% to 42%, with 55% of precincts reporting.
Michigan Proposition 1 lets adults 21 and older purchase, possess, and use cannabis, while growing up to 12 plants for personal use. There's a 10-ounce limit for marijuana kept at residences. Like nine other states, it mandates a licensing system for marijuana businesses. Sales of marijuana and edibles would be subjected to a 10% tax.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, North Dakota voters rejected a proposal to legalize marijuana — Measure 3 — by roughly 20 points. That proposal would have been an anomaly among legalization laws, in that it lacked any provision to regulate the marijuana industry. Rather, it would have wiped out all criminal penalties for possessing, growing, and selling marijuana — except sales to people under 21 — without imposing any structure to license farmers or stores.
Read more: Michigan Voters Have Legalized Marijuana
A Democrat will be governor of Kansas after earning Republican endorsements against a Trump-backed candidate
Democrat Laura Kelly will be the next governor of Kansas.
She and opponent Republican Kris Kobach polled within a point of each other for months, and they presented two very different visions for Kansas. Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, has been embraced by President Trump for his anti-immigration positions and his — questionable — positions on voter fraud.
Kobach led Trump’s “election integrity commission,” which was formed after Trump falsely said that voter fraud swung the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. The commission was a mess, it was sued several times, and it was disbanded. At home in Kansas, a federal judge fined Kobach $1,000 for making misleading arguments in a voting lawsuit.
Koback was also seen with Trump soon after the 2016 election holding a document that considered ways of barring immigrants from entering the US, including asking applicants about their support of “Sharia law,” which is an unfounded conspiracy theory.
On the campaign trail, Kobach vowed to cut taxes and government spending, continuing the work of former governor Sam Brownback.
Brownback’s tax cuts were repealed in 2016 as the state faced a budget crisis and slow economic growth, and Kelly, a current state senator, said she’d keep the budget balanced while seeking other ways to help struggling Kansans. She was endorsed by every living former governor of Kansas, Republican and Democrat — except for Brownback, who is now the Trump administration’s ambassador for International Religious Freedom.
Kobach, meanwhile, was found in contempt by a judge in April in a lawsuit related to Kansas’s voter ID law. He will also face a grand jury investigation about whether he intentionally failed to process voter registrations, preventing qualified citizens from voting. Kobach has denied that accusation, made by a Democrat running for the state legislature, as politically motivated.
Republican Rep. Dan Donovan lost his seat to Democratic challenger Max Rose on Staten Island
Democratic challenger Max Rose unseated Republican Rep. Dan Donovan on Staten Island in New York City, despite a last-minute push for the incumbent by President Trump.
Rose won in New York's traditionally red 11th District Tuesday. One day earlier, Trump had delivered a robocall to voters encouraging them to get out and vote for Donovan.
Rose, 31, an Afghan war veteran who ran as a centrist, bashed Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and said he wouldn’t commit to supporting Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House.
Donovan, a former state prosecutor, had served in the district since winning a 2015 special election after former Rep. Michael Grimm pleaded guilty to tax fraud. During his brief time in Congress, Donovan faced criticism over his decision as Staten Island DA not to indict Dan Pantaleo, the NYPD officer who put Eric Garner in a chokehold.
On Tuesday, Grimm told BuzzFeed News that he’s not ruling out a run for his old seat, now that a Democrat has won it.
“I’m certainly not closing any doors," the former Staten Island congressman told BuzzFeed News.
— Mike Hayes
The Mississippi Senate race will head to a runoff later this month
Mississippi Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and her Democratic opponent, Mike Epsy, are headed to a runoff for Senate since neither candidate reached the 50% needed to win.
The candidates are campaigning for the seat of Sen. Thad Cochran, who retired earlier this year. Hyde-Smith, who has President Donald Trump's support, was appointed to replace Cochran.
Hyde-Smith and Epsy will battle it out on Nov. 27. The winner will serve the remaining two years of Cochran’s term.
In the state’s other Senate contest, Republican incumbent Roger Wicker won reelection, defeating Democrat David Baria.
—Mary Ann Georgantopoulos
Florida’s governor beat a Democrat for his Senate seat after guiding his state through a school shooting and hurricanes
Florida Republican Rick Scott has narrowly defeated Democrat Bill Nelson in one of 2018’s closest and most expensive races.
Florida has been through a lot in the past couple years, including the February massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 students and staff members dead, two cataclysmic hurricanes, an influx of Puerto Ricans fleeing the island after their own storm, and the seismic political shift that accompanied Donald Trump’s presidential win.
The Florida Senate race was critical as Democrats and Republicans battled to control the Senate in this year’s midterm elections. Both Trump and former president Barack Obama campaigned in Florida in the final week before the vote. The battleground state was won by Obama in 2008 and 2012, but was carried by Trump in 2016 by one percentage point.
Scott, Florida’s outgoing two-term governor, invested tens of millions of dollars of his own money in his Senate campaign. A former health care executive, Scott entered politics for the first time in 2010, and with his successful campaign for governor, has credited his policies with Florida’s rebounding economy. All three of his campaigns have been bolstered by his considerable personal fortune, which was revealed in 2018 campaign financial disclosure documents to be between $254.3 million and $510 million.
A former tea party candidate, Scott’s political opinions appear to have shifted slightly to the center during his eight years in office. He was criticized by some national conservatives and the NRA for signing a bill in response to the Parkland shooting that raised the age limit and extending waiting times for buying rifles and also banned bump stocks .
Nelson, a veteran Florida Democrat, was first elected to Congress in 1978. He retired in 1990 to run for governor, a race he lost. Nelson was then appointed to lead the now-defunct Office of Treasurer, Insurance Commissioner and Fire Marshal of Florida, a position he held from 1995 until 2000, when he was elected to the US Senate. As of 2018, he was the only statewide-elected Democrat in Florida.
A Republican “golden boy” has defeated Sen. Claire McCaskill after a tough Missouri race
Republican Josh Hawley beat out two-term Sen. Claire McCaskill after a contentious race that was virtually tied in the polls right up to Election Day.
McCaskill secured her second term after her 2012 opponent, then-congressman Todd Akin, who was favored to win, became an object of national ridicule after saying that women could not get pregnant as a result of “legitimate rape.” Since Donald Trump won Missouri by nearly 19 percentage points in 2016, she was considered one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats in the 2018 election. Throughout her campaign, McCaskill distanced herself from party politics, and in one of her campaign’s radio ads even referred to herself as “not one of those crazy Democrats.”
More recently, McCaskill went as far as to appear on Fox News to say she’d support Trump using “every tool he has at his disposal” to stop the migrant caravan coming from Honduras at the US–Mexico border. Hawley only won his election to be the state’s attorney general in 2016. In that campaign, he ran an ad lambasting politicians who just climb “the political ladder.” But he wound up launching his campaign for Senate almost immediately after taking the AG office.
Hawley campaigned on McCaskill’s record of voting against Trump’s agenda — particularly her vote against confirming Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh — and argued that she no longer represented the now-conservative-leaning state she was elected to serve. “[McCaskill] always comes home to the party line in the end,” Hawley tweeted after the senator announced she would not vote to confirm Kavanaugh. “Hasn’t heard a thing voters told her. Just another Washington liberal.”
Hawley was also part of a group of lawmakers former Trump aide Steve Bannon backed — though Hawley didn’t fit the mold of a Republican who would upset the GOP establishment. The race was considered by both parties a key battleground in determining who would control the Senate in the new Congress, and Trump held two rallies in Missouri in the week before the election. —Ellie Hall
Republican Ron DeSantis just beat Andrew Gillum to become Florida’s next governor
Ron DeSantis, a former member of Congress and close ally of President Donald Trump, has won governor’s race in Florida, beating Democrat Andrew Gillum, who conceded late Tuesday night.
Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, was a surprise primary winner, campaigning to the left. DeSantis was something of a surprise as well — he was only favored to win the primary once he got a big tweet of support from the president.
The general election contest devolved into an ugly fight around race. Gillum, who is black, was targeted by robocalls from a neo-Nazi organization. DeSantis, on the first day of the general campaign, warned voters on Fox News not to “monkey this up” by voting for Gillum. And in a viral moment from one of their debates, Gillum said, “Now, I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist. I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist.”
But DeSantis was able to succeed by leaning deep into Trump. He ran an ad during his primary campaign in which he repeated the president’s campaign slogans with his family, and he frequently turned up on Fox News to spread his message.
“I am blown away by the volunteers that joined with us on the trail. I’m blown away by you," Gillum said in his concession speech. “This was from the very beginning an extremely, extremely difficult task."
“I sincerely regret that I couldn’t bring it home for you,” Gillum added, choking up. “But I can guarantee you this I’m not going anywhere.”
Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, also tweeted a last-minute plea on Tuesday night asking Floridians to vote.
Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp lost her North Dakota seat after taking a stand on #MeToo
Republican Kevin Cramer, who made national headlines for his comments criticizing the #MeToo movement, has won Democrat Heidi Heitkamp’s Senate seat in North Dakota.
The election was dominated by questions about whether a voter ID law suppressed the Native American vote.
Cramer, who’s served as a US representative since 2012, was a threat to Heitkamp from the moment he announced his candidacy. Heitkamp narrowly won election to the Senate in 2012 in the Republican-dominated state, though her North Dakota roots, centrist views, and history of public service earned her goodwill.
Heitkamp was the second Democrat to lose a US Senate seat on Tuesday.
During the hearings to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Heitkamp faced questions about whether she’d break with her party to appease Republican voters back home. Ultimately, she said she could not support Kavanaugh, citing questions about prior sexual assault allegations, as well as his temperament, honesty, and impartiality.
“Our actions right now are a poignant signal to young girls and women across our country,” Heitkamp said in a statement explaining her decision. “I will continue to stand up for them.”
After her vote, Heitkamp raised $12.4 million over a period of 17 days for her campaign — much of that coming from small donors. But the final weeks of her campaign weren’t exactly smooth: Heitkamp had to apologize after running a political ad in October incorrectly naming sexual assault survivors.
In contrast, Cramer said the #MeToo movement had gone too far, describing it as a “movement toward victimization.”
Another challenge for Heitkamp came from North Dakota’s voter ID law, which the Supreme Court declined to overturn less than a month before the election.
Under the law, voters must show an ID with their street address — a hurdle that especially affected Native Americans living on reservations without physical street addresses. Tribes scrambled to provide IDs that qualified under the new law, but civil rights advocates feared thousands of votes could be suppressed, particularly hurting Democrats like Heitkamp.
Republican Paul Gosar won reelection despite his siblings recording ads saying he shouldn’t be in office
Rep. Paul Gosar, a House Republican from Arizona, has been reelected, despite his own family begging voters to elect his opponent.
Six of Gosar’s siblings recorded campaign advertisements in support of his competitor, Democrat David Brill.
"Paul Gosar, the congressman, isn't doing anything to help rural America," said his sister Grace Gosar in one of the scathing ads, released in September.
"We've got to stand up for our good name. This is not who we are," said his brother David Gosar in another of them.
Two of his siblings told BuzzFeed News in September they recorded the ads as an “intervention” because they believe his views were racist and dangerous, particularly around immigration and health care.
Gosar has represented the state’s 4th Congressional District since 2011.
A Native American lesbian just beat a Republican congressman in Kansas
Sharice Davids, a Native American lesbian and former MMA fighter, won a House seat in the suburbs of Kansas City, handily beating Republican incumbent Kevin Yoder in a district that voted narrowly for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
She and Deb Haaland, who won a House seat in New Mexico Tuesday night, will be the first Native American women in Congress.
Despite her biography — Davids will also be the first gay person to represent Kansas in Congress — she was cast as a moderate in a primary election this summer, where progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaigned for an opposing candidate who ran on issues like Medicare for All and a $15 minimum wage.
Davids distanced herself from Medicare for All — but found herself attacked for supporting it anyway.
Republicans are poised to keep control of the Senate
Republicans appeared poised to keep their majority in the Senate Tuesday after candidates in Texas, Tennessee, and Indiana held on to their seats.
Democrats, though, appeared to be on the path to wrestle control from Republicans in the House, meaning the Trump administration could be looking at a divided legislature for the next two years.
With Republican Sen. Ted Cruz holding on to his seat in Texas, and challenger Mike Braun winning in Indiana, Republicans managed to keep the "blue wave" from spilling over into the Senate.
The Republican seat in Tennessee, held by Marsha Blackburn, also appeared to be vulnerable heading into the midterms, but she managed to pull out a victory over her Democrat opponent, Phil Bredesen.
"As a result, they're going to retain control," Brandon Finnigan, founder and director of DecisionDeskHQ, said.
Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat who has dominated attention this election cycle, lost his bid for Ted Cruz’s Senate seat
Sen. Ted Cruz has won a second term in the Senate, beating back an intense challenge from Democrat Beto O’Rourke.
This Senate race, which has been the most expensive in US history, has gotten an enormous amount of national attention. O’Rourke, a representative Texas’s 16th congressional district, ran a full-press campaign against Cruz, who ran for president in 2016. O’Rourke made a point of campaigning throughout the state, which is typically safe for statewide Republicans, and brought in troves of volunteers.
But Cruz still had a clear advantage in a state Republicans have dominated for years. And while he hasn’t always had a great relationship with fellow Republicans ("If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you," Sen. Lindsey Graham once joked), he got some clutch support this year once his race got close: President Donald Trump showed up in Texas in the closing weeks.
With 60% of precincts reporting results, Cruz had earned 51.1% of the vote. In his victory speech, he acknowledged the energy — and disparaged the "Hollywood" money — behind O'Rourke.
"Millions across this state were inspired by his campaign. They didn’t prevail, and I am grateful that the people of Texas chose a different path," Cruz said. "But let me say, I am your senator as well. My responsibility is to represent every Texan. And I give you my word I will always fight for your jobs, your freedom, your security."
—Matt Berman and Claudia Koerner
DecisionDeskHQ: Democrats are on track to take the majority in the House
Democrats are on track to win a majority and take control of the House, Brandon Finnigan, founder and director of DecisionDeskHQ, said.
The victory for Democrats will likely not yield a large number of new seats in the House, but early victories on Tuesday seemed to point to a new majority.
"It's not a dramatic victory," Finnigan said. "But it's pretty favorable for the Democrats."
By 10 p.m. ET, Democrats were able to flip five Republican seats. However, several seats that Democrats had hoped would be up for grabs appeared too close to call.
Finnigan said Democrats appeared poised to take somewhere between 25 to 35 seats, according to early election results.
Transgender people just won a historic victory in Massachusetts
Massachusetts on Tuesday became the first state where voters approved a law allowing transgender people to use public facilities that match their gender identity, rebuking an ugly opposition campaign that claimed cisgender men would abuse the law to harass women and portrayed transgender people as predators.
The results demonstrate that a campaign led by transgender activists, relying on young transgender people to become the face of their efforts, prevailed at inoculating voters against unfounded smears about "men in women's bathrooms" — a line of attack used by the Christian right elsewhere to reverse protections for transgender people.
Evangelical Christians have managed to block several transgender rights measures — and comprehensive LGBT nondiscrimination policies — with claims they let transgender people, or men posing as them, sexually assault women in restrooms. Arguments along those lines, despite a lack of evidence to support them, have been devastating for progressives who’ve struggled to reframe the debate.
With nearly a third of the precincts reporting, Massachusetts residents had voted 71% to 29% on Tuesday to uphold the state's transgender-rights law. Originally passed in 2016, the law completed the puzzle in the state’s existing civil protections for LGBT people by banning discrimination on the basis of gender identity in places of public accommodation — including bathrooms and locker rooms.
“Tonight’s victory illuminates the path forward amidst a particularly dark time for transgender Americans across the nation,” said Masen Davis, CEO of Freedom for All Americans, a national group that backed the local campaign to uphold the transgender rights law. "We’ve permanently reframed what it means to treat transgender people with dignity and respect, and this campaign will serve as a roadmap for future victories.”
This Democrat just became the first openly gay man to be elected governor in the US
Jared Polis is making history — again. Ten years after he became the first openly gay man to win a congressional seat, the five-term Colorado congressman is now the country’s first openly gay man to be elected governor.
The 43-year-old Democrat, who is also now Colorado's first Jewish governor, kept a consistent lead over his Republican opponent, Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, before clinching the win Tuesday night in what became the most expensive race in the state’s history.
A progressive tech entrepreneur from Boulder, Polis was first elected to Congress in 2008. At the time, his longtime partner Marlon Reis hung back on the campaign trail and did not appear often in public until the victory party, where they memorably hugged on stage.
This time, though, the couple weaved their children and family life into ads and social media posts, embracing the happy family narrative that is so often used by straight candidates.
During Denver's Pride Parade this year, Polis filled his social media with photos of him and Reis, as well as other LGBT couples, captioning them with messages like "Love is love" and "We are a party that looks like America, today and tomorrow," while also acknowledging how difficult it is to be openly queer in many parts of the country.
Democrats in Pennsylvania flipped two more Republican seats
Democrats picked up two more seats previously held by Republicans in Pennsylvania.
Democrats Chrissy Houlahan and Mary Gay Scanlon were confirmed as winning two House seats for the Democrats in Pennsylvania Tuesday night, bringing the total number of flips to five so far.
In the state’s 5th Congressional District, Scanlon defeated Pearl Kim while in Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District Houlahan defeated Greg McCauley.
Scanlon, 59, is a longtime civil rights attorney and former president of the Wallingford-Swathmore school board will represent a district that was redrawn this year.
Houlahan, an Air Force veteran and businesswoman, won the 6th Congressional District — which was also redrawn this year — that includes southeast Pennsylvania and parts of Philadelphia.
No women currently represent Pennsylvania in Congress. The two wins, along with Susan Wild's projected win in the 7th District, bring the total to at least three.
—Mary Ann Georgantopoulos and Azeen Ghorayshi
Progressive Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is now the youngest woman ever elected to Congress
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the former bartender from the Bronx who quickly became the darling of progressive Democrats after her surprise primary win in June, is now the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
The Tuesday vote was essentially a formality for the 29-year-old since the 14th District is a Democrat stronghold.
In June, Ocasio-Cortez stunned the party by beating Rep. Joe Crowley, one of the most powerful Democrats in the country. Crowley had long been touted as a possible successor to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Video of the moment Ocasio-Cortez realized she’d won her race, which was run as a grassroots campaign on progressive issues in her district, quickly went viral.
Since the primary win, Ocasio-Cortez has remained in the spotlight, becoming one of the most visible faces of progressive Democrats. She’s appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, in Vogue, and at dozens of rallies and events across the country.
She’s also drawn criticism for her vague and confusing answers to some policy questions. But her focus on progressive politics, such as abolishing US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, backing Medicare for All, and refusing corporate PAC money, connected with her district, largely made up of immigrants and working-class people of color.
A Democrat won a seat in a New Hampshire district that went for Trump in 2016
Democrat Chris Pappas has become New Hampshire’s first openly gay congressman, winning a closely watched seat that has flip-flopped between Republicans and Democrats for the past several years.
He beat out Republican Eddie Edwards, who would have been the state’s first black US representative, and will take over the seat vacated by retiring Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter.
This race is seen as a national bellwether: For the last 10 years, the vote total in New Hampshire’s 1st District has been within 1% of the national House vote. It has seesawed between Shea-Porter and former Republican representative Frank Guinta four times between 2010 and 2016, with each winning twice. The district is known for its independent swing voters, and in 2016 they went for Donald Trump by less than two2 points.
Pappas and Edwards took differing approaches to incorporating their history-making identities into the campaign.
“In America, unlike anywhere else, your race, your background, your ethnicity, your gender, your sexual orientation has nothing to do with you being special,” Edwards told the Associated Press. “What makes you special is what you give back to your community, what you give back to your family.”
Pappas said he hoped his election would send a positive message to New Hampshire residents.
“It’s important to be honest about who you are. I think that sends a positive message to others out there who are questioning whether they have a place in their own communities,” he told the AP.
Edwards, a former police chief and head of the state’s liquor enforcement division, has been public about his support for President Donald Trump and won the president’s endorsement. Pappas, in contrast, said he’s willing to take on the Trump administration — particularly on issues such as health care, reproductive rights, and the environment.
Democrat Bob Menendez keeps his Senate seat despite ethics scandal
Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey won reelection after a bruising corruption trial and all the attack ads that came after it.
Menendez won on Tuesday in spite of being indicted on federal corruption charges in 2015, allowing Democrats to hold on to a Senate seat.
The race in reliably blue New Jersey largely focused on ethical questions around Menendez, who has been in the Senate since 2006 and in Congress since 1993.
That put progressive activists, who wanted to take control of the Senate from Republicans, in an uncomfortable position of contorting to defend a senator whose recent history cuts against their own messaging.
Menendez had been accused of accepting bribes from a campaign donor — including flights on a private jet and access to exclusive clubs and hotels — and making false statements. He pleaded not guilty, and after a jury could not reach a verdict on the charges, the Justice Department dropped its case earlier this year.
The Senate Ethics Committee, however, “severely admonished” Menendez.
That set the stage for a heated campaign against Republican challenger Bob Hugin, a self-funding pharmaceutical executive.
Hugin brought up the discredited allegations that Menendez had sex with underage prostitutes. At a debate, Menendez called those accusations a lie, and added that a vote for Hugin would be a vote for Trump.
—Claudia Koerner and Ryan Brooks
Carlos Curbelo, a Republican who has criticized Trump, lost his congressional seat in a heavily Latino Florida district
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a Democrat who lost her father to gun violence in Ecuador, took a Republican congressman’s seat in a heavily Latino district just outside Miami.
Carlos Curbelo, a Cuban American congressman, supported immigration reform and a carbon tax, and was not afraid to criticize Trump, saying the president's summit with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki was “deeply alarming.”
Curbelo was one of the few House Republicans that have vocally supported solutions to climate change, such as a carbon tax.
He also criticized racist Iowa Rep. Steve King, saying on MSNBC, “His comments and his actions are disgusting,” and added, “I would never cast a ballot for someone like Steve King.”
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell ran on a platform largely based on improving health care.
Damage done to the needle
Early technical difficulties and adjustments mired two indicators that election night watchers have come to rely on (sometimes at their peril) — the New York Times election “needle” and FiveThirtyEight’s real-time forecast.
The Times’ infamous forecast needle — which in 2016 ticked from firmly in Hillary Clinton’s territory over to Donald Trump’s — was expected to go live shortly after polls began closing at 7 p.m ET. But by about 9:30 p.m ET, a message read on the page, “We do not yet feel confident enough in our estimates to publish a live forecast. If and when we do, we will publish it here.”
Nate Cohn, who covers elections for the Times, tweeted that the needle was suffering from some technical difficulties.
Readers over at FiveThirtyEight, for their part, got whiplash as the Nate Silver–led site’s real-time forecast bounced back and forth between the likelihood of Democrats or Republicans taking the House.
Silver tweeted, “we think our live election day forecast is definitely being too aggressive and are going to put it on a more conservative setting where it waits more for projections/calls instead of making inferences from partial vote counts.” Elections analyst Nathaniel Rakich wrote on the site’s live blog, “The model sees that a bunch of ‘likely Republican’ districts (particularly in Florida) are now 100 percent likely to go red. But there hasn’t been the chance for Democrats to clinch many equivalent likely Democratic districts.”
After two hours of Twitter ridicule, the New York Times' needle finally came on around 9:45 p.m. ET, but by that point, the damage was done.
Bernie Sanders easily wins reelection for third Senate term
US Senator Bernie Sanders cruised to victory in Vermont for his third term on Tuesday.
The former presidential candidate Sanders easily defeated challenger Lawrence Zupan, a Republican businessman.
At a victory speech delivered shortly after 9 p.m. local time, Sanders thanked his family and “the thousands of Vermonters who played a key role in helping us win this election.”
“Being a United States senator from Vermont has been the honor of my life,” Sanders said. “And I thank the people of the state for once again allowing me to serve as their senator.”
Earlier in the week, Sanders took a swipe at President Trump during an interview on CNN when he said the Trump “lies every day about every imaginable thing.”
Sanders has avoided giving a definitive answer on whether he’ll make another run at the White House in 2020.
The Republican accused of liking Bigfoot erotica and offensive Facebook pages won a House seat in Virginia
Denver Riggleman, the Republican candidate accused of circulating Bigfoot erotica, and later of "liking" racist, sexist, and otherwise offensive Facebook pages, has won his bid for a US House seat in Virginia. He ran an extremely close race against Democrat Leslie Cockburn in the state's 5th Congressional District, which includes the city of Charlottesville.
With 97% of precincts reporting, Riggleman was leading Tuesday night 53-47% in a district Trump won by 11 points in 2016. A New York Times poll that closed on Oct. 22 showed a tight contest in the district, with Cockburn marginally ahead, 46% to 45%, percent, and 10% of voters undecided.
Riggleman will replace Republican Rep. Tom Garrett, who announced earlier this year that he would not seek reelection after several anonymous staffers accused him and his wife of mistreatment, including making the aides the couple's "servants," as Politico wrote. Shortly after the story became public, Garrett's chief of staff resigned, and the congressman then held a bizarre press conference in which he declared he would still seek reelection. Days later, Garrett changed course and said he would not seek another term, citing a struggle with alcohol abuse.
A three-term Republican congressman barely held on to his seat against a retired Air Force pilot
Three-term Republican Rep. Andy Barr just managed to hold on to his traditionally conservative congressional seat after facing a strong challenge from a retired fighter pilot who launched her campaign with a stirring political ad/
The tight race was unexpected. Though the district contains Lexington, which is heavily Democratic, it is surrounded by rural counties. Donald Trump and Mitt Romney each carried it by more than 10 percentage points in 2012 and 2016.
McGrath, a Naval Academy graduate and the first female Marine pilot to fly a F/A-18 in combat, attracted national attention — and donors — in August 2017 when she entered the Democratic primary race with a powerful ad about her military service and her motivation for running for Congress. In May, she defeated establishment candidate Jim Gray, a former mayor of Lexington, Kentucky, in the Democratic primary after a campaign run without support from the DCCC. After winning the nomination, McGrath positioned herself to Kentucky voters as a moderate fed up with the ugliness and divisive politics in Washington.
Elected to Congress in 2012, Andy Barr faced his first serious reelection challenge with McGrath in 2018. He voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2017 and has consistently stood with President Trump on legislative issues. The president endorsed Barr and campaigned for him in the state before the election, referring to McGrath in a tweet as a “Nancy Pelosi run” candidate.
— Ellie Hall
Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown wins reelection in Ohio — a state won by Trump in 2016
Sherrod Brown, the Democratic senator from Ohio, held on to his seat, making him the first Senate Democrat to win reelection in a state president Donald Trump won in 2016.
Trump beat Hillary Clinton in Ohio by 8 points in the 2016 election. But Brown easily claimed a third term in the US Senate Tuesday, defeating Republican Rep. Jim Renacci — a win many predicted early in the race.
Renacci at first ran for governor of the state but switched to the Senate race after the White House urged him him to run against Brown.
The 65-year-old incumbent Democrat, has served in the Senate since 2006, and is the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.
—Mary Ann Georgantopoulos
Floridians just voted to restore voting rights for more than 1 million convicted felons
More than 1 million Floridians who haven’t been able to cast ballots in elections because of laws barring convicted felons from voting have regained their right to vote under a constitutional amendment approved by voters Tuesday.
According to preliminary election results, 64% voted in favor of Amendment 4, which restores voting rights to felons, except those convicted of murder and sexual offenses, automatically after they complete all the terms of their sentences, including parole or probation.
The amendment needed 60% of votes to pass.
“We think this would add to the chorus of the Florida electorate,” Neil Volz, political director for the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, the group behind the amendment, told BuzzFeed News. “It would allow millions of people whose voices have been silenced to get their voices back.”
—Stephanie K. Baer
Indiana businessman inspired by Trump defeats Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly
Mike Braun, a Republican businessman who says President Donald Trump inspired him to run for office, defeated Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, a conservative Democrat, further cementing the swing to the right in a state the president won by 19 points in 2016.
Donnelly also became the first Democratic senator to lose his seat to a Republican challenger.
It was a Senate race in which party lines blurred and many attacks that resonated in the rest of the country didn’t seem to land, between a conservative Democrat who supports Trump’s border wall and a businessman who said Trump inspired him to run, painting himself as a lifelong Republican despite having consistently cast Democratic ballots until 2012.
Trump held one of his final campaign rallies on Monday in Fort Wayne, Indiana, urging supporters to vote for Braun in a speech that focused on immigration and blaming Democrats for a caravan of Central American migrants to the US border.
“Republicans believe America should be a sanctuary city for law-abiding, not criminal, aliens,” Trump said. “And we will always stand with the heroes of ICE, border control, and law enforcement.”
Donnelly, one of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate, has voted to fund the president’s border wall and released an ad in which he criticized colleagues who wanted to abolish ICE. He is also vocally anti-abortion and has earned “A” ratings from the National Rifle Association.
“If you want someone to be with a political party 100% of the time, I'm not that guy," Donnelly, who rarely mentioned his Democratic affiliation during the campaign, said in one of his last ads before the election. "I'm not about party. Our politics are already too partisan and have become way too violent."
But his vote against the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh provided Republicans with plenty of ammunition, with Trump telling a rally he had “joined the Democrat mob” to bring down the nominee.
The president has a 53% approval in the state, rating according to the latest poll.
Braun, a business owner who was not well-known in the state when he left the Indiana legislature to run for Senate, spent heavily on the same Republican ad firm used by Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. His campaign ads focused on his business record, job creation and a “proud to be made in America” message that echoed Trump. On the campaign trail, he often spoke personally about the president’s influence on his politics.
"When he ran the field back in 2016, it was an inspiration for somebody like me that has always felt that DC needed to be shaken," he said at a campaign event last month.
Vice President Mike Pence, who voted absentee in his home state of Indiana, also stumped for Braun in the months leading up to the election, highlighting his business experience.
"In 24 days, I think that businessman is going to be working with another businessman," Pence said in October.
Democrat Donna Shalala flips another House seat blue with a win in Florida
Democrat Donna Shalala has beat out Republican Maria Salazar for Florida’s 27th congressional seat, handing Democrats another House seat previously held by the GOP.
Shalala, a former US Health and Human Services Secretary under the Clinton administration and former president of the University of Miami, beat out Republican Maria Salazar for the seat being vacated by retiring Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
Shalala was able to defeat her GOP opponent in the heavily Latino district, despite not speaking Spanish and although Salazar carried heavy name recognition as a result of her career in Telemundo and CNN Español.
Anti-gay Kentucky clerk Kim Davis was just voted out of office
Kim Davis, the county clerk in rural Kentucky who became a conservative celebrity for refusing to issue marriage licenses after the Supreme Court’s 2015 landmark marriage ruling, was ejected from office on Tuesday night as voters chose her Democratic rival.
Davis trailed by more than 800 votes, with all precincts reporting, setting up Elwood Caudill Jr. to be the next Rowan County clerk.
Davis was elected as a Democrat, and took office in January 2015, a few months before the Supreme Court’s ruling. But after becoming conservative star, she announced she would switch parties. David faced a challenge earlier this year from David Ermold, a gay man she denied a marriage license to in 2015, but Ermold was shut out in the primary.
Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib is the first Muslim woman elected to Congress
MINNEAPOLIS — Even with the outcome expected, there was a sense of history-making when it became official Tuesday night: A Muslim woman was elected to Congress for the first time.
Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib, 42, won her election after running unopposed by a Republican. And 36-year-old Ilhan Omar of Minnesota is expected to handily win her race later in the evening. The Midwestern Democrats previously served as state lawmakers.
In addition to the “first” she is expected to share with Tlaib, Omar will likely be the first headscarf-wearing member of Congress, as well as the first Somali American US legislator, and the first woman of color to represent Minnesota in Congress.
Their election would be a milestone in any year, but is especially symbolic as a rebuke to President Donald Trump’s fearmongering about Islam and immigrants. Omar and Talib are among 100 or more Muslims who ran for office in 2018, an unprecedented surge in political engagement for a community targeted by policies intended to keep them on the sidelines.
Ayanna Pressley just became Massachusetts' first black congresswoman
Boston city councilor Ayanna Pressley will be Massachusetts' first black woman in Congress.
The 44-year-old will represent the state’s 7th District, a seat once held by John F. Kennedy.
Pressley rose to national fame when video of her realizing she’d won the Democratic primary against Rep. Michael Capuano, a 10-term lawmaker, went viral.
“We won? We won?” she cried, bursting into tears, in the September video.
Pressley, who campaigned on a progressive platform, ran unopposed in the general election.
• Watch The Exact Moment Ayanna Pressley Realized She Was Likely To Become Massachusetts' First Black Congresswoman
A House seat in Virginia just flipped from a Republican to a Democrat
Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock has lost her congressional seat to Jennifer Wexton, the first seat in the House of Representatives to flip in favor of Democrats.
Comstock’s seat, representing Washington, DC, suburbs, was seen as one of the most vulnerable Republican seats heading into Tuesday’s midterm elections, but could serve as a sign of things to come as Democrats look to take control of the House.
Hillary Clinton won the 10th District in 2016 and, although the district has normally leaned Republican, an increase of young and immigrant voters in the area helped push the district toward Democrats.
Wexton is a former prosecutor and state senator, and looked to link Comstock with President Trump during the campaign.
Georgia's Republican candidate for governor, who is also secretary of state, had trouble casting his own ballot
Like thousands of other residents in Georgia who have been stymied by long lines, broken voting machines, and voter ID laws, Republican gubernatorial candidate and Secretary of State Brian Kemp had trouble casting his ballot Tuesday.
After spending the morning doing last-minute campaigning across several key counties, the Republican went to his home polling place in Winterville to vote. But when he tried to insert his voter card into the machine, it flashed back that it was invalid, according to WSB-TV, which shared a video of the experience.
Kemp had to go back and get another card, saying, "Take two," as he walked by reporters.
The governor’s race in Georgia is one of the most contentious and closely watched in the US because voters rights groups have sued Kemp for withholding 53,000 voter registration applications, most of which were for black voters, because they did not pass the state's "exact match" voter ID law. Other reports and investigations have found that thousands of other applications have gone missing.
A group of Georgia voters also demanded that Kemp step down while he ran for governor because his office is responsible for certifying the election results and investigating allegations of fraud and other controversies.
Since early voting began, thousands of residents have encountered incredibly long lines, some topping four hours, as well as technical malfunctions at polling stations across the state.
These people just voted for the first time and tweeted their heartwarming stories
First-time voters — young, old, and new US citizens — and their loved ones tweeted heartwarming stories about their first experience casting ballots on Tuesday.
"I got a big round of applause," a 36-year-old woman said after the greeter announced it was her first time voting.
This woman joked that her husband was a virgin voter: "He's been deflowered now and it couldn't have come at a better time."
—Stephanie K. Baer
A fake Donald Trump Twitter account is spreading election falsehoods, and a link to "2 Girls, 1 Cup"
A fake Donald Trump Twitter account with more than 10,000 followers has been spreading hoaxes on Election Day.
The account, which had existed since 2015, was suspended six minutes after BuzzFeed News asked Twitter about it. The account used the username @realDonadTrump, which omitted the "L" in Donald but otherwise resembled the president's real account.
Before being taken down, it targeted Republicans with a hoax about the wrong voting date. By far its most successful tweet was a false claim about Antifa members pretending to be Trump supporters by wearing Make America Great Again hats.
The account also trolled Trump supporters with offers of a free MAGA hat. When people clicked on the link they were taken to a website hosting a vintage viral video called "2 Girls, 1 Cup," which depicts a graphic sex act.
Guam elects its first woman governor
In the first results of the midterm elections, Guam has declared Lou Leon Guerrero its first woman governor.
Democrat Leon Guerrero ran with Josh Tenorio, who will be lieutenant governor. Their win was announced at 7 a.m. Wednesday local time with Guerrero and Tenorio receiving more than 50% of the vote, meaning that they will not have a runoff, according to KUAM News. They beat the Republican team of Ray Tenorio and Tony Ada, who had a little more than 25% of the vote.
Leon Guerrero will replace current Republican Gov. Eddie Calvo. She is currently the president of the Bank of Guam and has previously served as a senator on Guam’s legislature.
Michael San Nicolas, a Democrat, was elected by Guam to serve in the US House of Representatives. Guam’s delegate is a nonvoting member. In the next legislature, Democrats will also hold a 10–5 majority, according to the Pacific Daily News.
Guam became a US territory in 1898, and people in Guam were given US citizenship in 1950 with the Guam Organic Act. There are more than 160,000 residents in Guam, according to the Department of Interior.
Part of the same archipelago as Guam, the US Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, known as CNMI, consists of 14 islands that are their own US territory — with a similar status to the states as Puerto Rico. Recently ravaged by a typhoon, Gov. Ralph Torres decided to postpone their election until Nov. 13.
—Michelle Broder Van Dyke
Georgia voters are suing to stop gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp from overseeing the election
A group of Georgia voters filed a lawsuit Tuesday afternoon seeking to block the state's top election official — Brian Kemp, who is also the Republican candidate for governor — from overseeing and certifying election results.
Kemp, who is locked in a tight race with Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams, declined to step down as secretary of state while he ran for governor, stoking fears among his critics that he would leverage his office to favor his campaign. The lawsuit filed on Tuesday alleges that he's done just that.
"Defendant’s clear bias in favor of his own candidacy demonstrates the truth of the axiom that no man may be the judge in his own case. This Court should not permit Defendant Kemp to resolve the outcome of the elections in which he is a candidate under these circumstances," lawyers for the challengers wrote in a complaint.
The secretary of state's office is responsible not only for certifying the results, but also investigating allegations of election fraud and handling other election-related controversies.
Polls close in Indiana and Kentucky
Polls have closed in Indiana and Kentucky where all eyes are on two key races — though it may take some time before results roll in as parts of both states are in the Central time zone.
In Indiana, if Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly cannot hang on to his seat and loses to Republican Mike Braun, Democrats have little chance of taking back the Senate.
In Kentucky’s 6th District retired Air Force pilot Amy McGrath — who gained national attention for a viral ad highlighting her career as a Marine — is trying to unseat three-term Republican congressman Andy Barr in a tight race for a typically conservative seat.
Though the 6th district contains Lexington, which is heavily Democratic, it is surrounded by rural counties. Trump and Romney carried it by more than 10 percentage points in 2012 and 2016.
—Mary Ann Georgantopoulos
Steve King has barred the Des Moines Register from covering his election night event tonight for being "leftist propaganda"
Crummy weather turned up at the polls
Rain, thunder, and snow added to the drama in today’s midterm elections, with voters complaining about crummy conditions in some polling places.
Although voting was reportedly strong, lousy weather typically depresses voter turnout. Much of the East Coast endured rain and thunderstorms, while the Upper Midwest saw snow arrive with the midterms.
Some Midwestern and Southwestern states, such as Ohio and Arizona, meanwhile, saw perfectly balmy weather, which typically boosts voter turnout.
Republican voters famously turn out to vote despite bad weather at higher rates than Democrats, a potential key to voting in states featuring close races, such as Georgia and North Carolina. Clear skies are good news for Democratic candidates, supposedly, because 1 inch of rain equals a 2.43% greater turnout for Republicans, according to a 2007 analysis.
A more recent political science analysis suggests that bad weather might actually influence voters to switch votes while waiting to vote, changing at least 1% of Democratic Party votes to Republican ones. “Inclement weather on the election day could affect voters’ moods and risk attitudes,” the study concludes.
The Parkland students are running a young voter "war room"
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students, survivors of a school shooting that killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida, are staffing a phone bank and calling on young voters to make their voices heard in today's midterm election.
The students' get-out-the-vote effort is part of the March for Our Lives movement, which has grown from a student-run social media effort to end gun violence after the February shooting.
Even though many of the students are too young to vote themselves, they are making hundreds of calls to people ages 18 to 21, telling them where their polling places are and how to arrange a ride to them. Young people are the least common voters in most elections.
Parkland parents are also contributing to the effort, centered on gun control and student safety. The students adopted a #VoteThemOut hashtag and have been working toward the elections since a high-profile visit by the teens to Washington, DC, after the shooting yielded few results.
—Remy Smidt in Parkland, Florida, and Dan Vergano in New York City
Somali immigrants voted in Minneapolis to help Democrat Ilhan Omar make history
MINNEAPOLIS — In the Minneapolis district known as “Little Mogadishu” for its large Somali immigrant community, buses and station wagons delivered voters to the main polling station. The election judges wore buttons letting voters know they speak Somali.
Elderly men with henna-dyed beards and elderly women in traditional Somali dress lined up to vote alongside the next generation of Minnesota-born children of immigrants, who said they watched YouTube for voting instructions.
They were all there to help one of their own make history: Democrat Ilhan Omar, a Somali American immigrant who’s expected to become the first Muslim woman elected to Congress, a milestone she’ll share with Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
“When I was in third grade, Obama was elected, and now I’m voting for Ilhan. It feels like you can really do anything if you put your mind to it,” said Sumiya Hassan, 19, who voted with her mother. “There was a lot of pressure to vote this year, from inside and outside the community,” Hassan said. “When Trump became president, everyone went crazy. We had walkouts in school every other week. You’re forced to pick a side.”
Faduma Abdi, 50, a naturalized US citizen, said she doesn’t speak English very well and doesn’t understand the party system very well. “I vote Republican!” she said proudly, before correcting herself. “No, I mean Democrat!”
But Abdi said she does understand the anxiety that’s cloaked her community since Trump’s election. The president, she said, “has a big bag of money” but doesn’t care about immigrants or the poor.
Abdi said her vote for Omar isn’t just about seeing a Somali American, Muslim, headscarf-wearing woman in office; she expects Omar to deliver on social services and health care promises, the issues she expects no help on from the Trump administration.
“When she goes to Washington, I don’t want her to sleep,” Abdi said. “I want her to open her eyes, open her ears, and work for women.”
Nasro Mohamed, 30, is a nurse who works in home health care, tending mostly to elderly white patients.
“Since Trump became president, they see you differently,” Mohamed said of her patients. “They don’t trust you anymore. They don’t see a nurse — they see a terrorist.”
Like Mohamed, Omar is an immigrant Muslim woman who covers her hair. She said she hopes that Omar’s ascent to the national stage will change the views of people who view Muslims with suspicion.
“Maybe now people will know us,” she said, taking her place in the long line of voters.
—Hannah Allam in Minneapolis
Long lines at the polls could limit access for some voters
Election Day voters across the country are encountering long lines at polling stations and are reporting some wait times of longer than an hour to cast their ballot — and that's not necessarily a great thing for democracy.
"I think it’s great that people are waiting and people are staying — but it can also mean that the voting machines are broken or that we don’t have enough poll workers," Myrna Pérez, deputy director of the Brennan Center's Democracy Program at NYU, told BuzzFeed News.
For instance, for people who rely on child care, who need to get back to work, or who rely on others for transportation to and from polling centers, "it could be a barrier to casting a ballot that counts," she said.
A civil rights group is reporting "widespread confusion" in Alabama about state election laws
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund sent a letter Tuesday afternoon to Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill reporting "widespread confusion" in the state about photo ID requirements and how poll workers should advise voters whose registrations are listed as "inactive."
The group says it received multiple reports Tuesday of poll workers rejecting voters with valid photo IDs because the address on the ID did not match the address listed in their voter registration records. The group's lawyers said Alabama law does not include an address-match requirement.
The organization also wrote that it received reports of poll workers telling voters listed as "inactive" that they could cast "provisional" ballots, even though the law says these voters can cast regular ballots as long as they also update their voter registration information.
The group's lawyers are asking Merrill to immediately issue guidance to election officials across the state. Merrill responded bluntly on Twitter: "No there’s no confusion except what your manufacturing."
John Bennett, a spokesperson for the Alabama secretary of state's office, said in an email to BuzzFeed News that the NAACP LDF's letter was "an unfortunate attempt at political grandstanding."
"The letter we received from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund seemed to be a response to the types of things that our team has been on site since 6 this morning to resolve. Guidance issued from our office on this matter is linked below and countless iterations of this same guidance have been distributed to county and local election officials statewide," Bennett said.
A group of Irish citizens is campaigning in some of the most competitive US congressional races
MIAMI — An unlikely crowd of young people sat in the back of a campaign office for Andrew Gillum last week. They looked like your standard group of Democratic volunteers — they wore Gillum campaign T-shirts and campaign buttons for Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, the Democrat running in the competitive House district here. But when they opened their mouths and started speaking with an Irish brogue, it all got a bit more confusing.
“Thought you needed some help,” explained Jane Corscadden, one of the group.
They’re in Miami for the month, volunteering for Gillum and Mucarsel-Powell as part of a program called Politrip, basically a political foreign exchange program. There’s another group of volunteers in California volunteering for Katie Porter’s House campaign, and another group is working on a Virginia House race.
Border Patrol agents had to scrap Election Day "crowd control" drills after they were accused of voter intimidation
US Border Patrol agents on Tuesday canceled a “crowd control exercise” they had planned in El Paso, Texas, after civil rights groups and lawmakers slammed it as a voter intimidation tactic.
The location, near the Latino neighborhood of Chihuahuita, and the timing on Election Day raised suspicions, said Terri Burke, the executive director of the ACLU of Texas.
“It shouldn’t have taken outrage by us, congresspeople and the community for Border Patrol to know this would cause serious problems on Election Day,” she said in an emailed statement. “These suspicious exercises scheduled in a Latinx neighborhood raise serious concerns about whether this was intended to intimidate Texans from exercising their right to vote.”
Beto O'Rourke is the man of the hour in Texas, but women built his campaign
HOUSTON — There’s a digital poster that’s spread among Beto O’Rourke Facebook groups in Texas: “Husbands All Over Texas Plan Huge Party Nov. 6th to Welcome Their Wives Back From Activism Duty.” It’s a joke, but it’s not. Across Texas, hundreds of women have made supporting the campaign their full-time (unpaid) job or their second job. There are more than 500 “Beto ambassadors,” the volunteers who serve as leaders for the grassroots efforts in communities across the state, and Cari Marshall, an Austin ambassador I spoke to, estimated that around 75 to 80% are women — a majority that reflects the general breakdown of volunteer labor for the campaign. “It’s like me and a bunch of middle-aged retired ladies,” Natalie Marquez, a 20-year-old Beto ambassador from Brownsville, told me. “Well, and a few very brave men.”
At packed Beto campaign events across the state, the crowd is usually divided 50-50 along gender lines. But the people selling T-shirts, and collecting supporter information, and cleaning up — mostly women. Which is not that different than other Democratic campaigns in 2018. But because Beto has built such a vast field operation — with around 800 paid staffers and, by the campaign’s count, more than 25,000 volunteers — it’s just all the more noticeable: Beto O’Rourke is the central, motivating, inspirational factor in a campaign that might flip a Texas Senate seat blue for the first time in 30 years. But O’Rourke’s momentum? It was built on the organizational acumen and labor of women.
—Anne Helen Petersen
Jailed Ohio voters are suing the state so they can vote
Ohio voters arrested and jailed after the deadline to request an absentee ballot filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday seeking emergency court action so that they can vote in the midterm elections.
Under Ohio law, a person in jail facing criminal charges does not lose their right to vote. In order to vote while incarcerated, however, defendants have to request an absentee ballot; in-person requests had to be made by Nov. 2 and mailed requests had to be received by Nov. 3. The lawsuit contends that a "substantial number" of people booked into county jails on or after Nov. 2 are eligible to vote but won't be able to.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and DCCC Chair Ben Ray Luján are confident Democrats will win the House
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Ben Ray Luján, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, are confident that Democrats would win the House.
At a press conference at DCCC headquarters on Tuesday morning, when asked about how this compared to Democrats’ confidence in 2016 when they also expected to win, Pelosi said, “This is different,” adding they’re taking this “one district at a time.”
She also signaled that Democrats “will strive for bipartisanship” and said that they “are not going after Republicans the way they went after us.”
Here’s a running list of the hoaxes and misleading information to look out for during the midterms
BuzzFeed News is tracking and debunking the dubious rumors, memes, and falsehoods related to the midterm elections. If you see something we haven’t covered, get in touch through email (email@example.com) or Twitter (@JaneLytv).
This post will be updated throughout Election Day 2018.
For more information on who your candidates are, visit Ballotpedia.org, and for information on how to vote, head to Vote.org.
—Jane Lytvynenko and Craig Silverman
2018 midterm elections guide: How to watch
Welcome to Election Day. There are, essentially, a billion races happening, and it's hard for any mere mortal to keep track of it all.
But there are also two big, simple questions: Who will control the House? Who will control the Senate?
Let us give you the rundown on how we're approaching the night, and when exactly we'll know if this is the wave election Democrats hope for and Republicans fear.
• Most calls will likely be made between 9:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. ET. After that, we'll be waiting on calls that are probably a) really close races, b) races from parts of the Midwest and the West Coast.
• It’s pretty likely we’ll know by 9 p.m. or 9:30 p.m. ET if we’re looking at a major wave election or not, based on data coming from the East Coast and Midwest...
• ...but it’s worth playing around a little with this map, as you’ll get a sense for how tricky even the House landscape is. Democrats need to flip 23 seats to take control of the House. That's actually a lot, and it's definitely possible that Democrats could win in many places and have a strong night on Tuesday, without taking control of the House.
• You'll know it's a huge wave if: It's 9 p.m. ET and people on Twitter and on cable news (and especially on the AM to DM Election Night Special, where you'll find me and Decision Desk HQ's Brandon Finnigan) are talking about massive Democratic turnout along the East Coast. Democrats are already winning House seats in states like Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Florida, and maybe in places like Ohio, Kentucky, and Texas. Andrew Gillum and Joe Donnelly are winning decisively in Florida and Indiana; Stacey Abrams is coming close to 50% in Georgia; and Phil Bredesen is doing pretty well. And, critically, the early returns in the Midwest look incredibly strong for Democrats.
• You'll know it's not a wave if: It's 9 p.m. ET and you're seeing a lot of tight races along the East Coast, and maybe some where Republicans are holding on, especially in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and the Midwest.
Here's the complete 2018 midterm elections guide and how to watch. —Katherine Miller
Fox News hosts are campaigning for President Trump
Despite insisting that he would not be campaigning for President Donald Trump at a rally on the eve of the midterm elections, Fox News' Sean Hannity took the stage in front of a cheering crowd in Missouri Monday night.
The Trump campaign had announced Sunday that Hannity, along with talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, would be "special guests" at the president's final rally before Election Day in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
Fox News, however, denied Monday that Hannity would be a part of the campaign rally, stating that the cable news anchor would instead be there to interview the president before the event. Hannity also denied that he would participate in the rally, tweeting that he would be doing a live show at the venue but would "not be on stage campaigning for the president."
But, as Trump took the stage, hours before polls opened for the midterm elections, he called on Hannity to address the crowd, describing the Fox News host as an "incredible person" who has "been with us since the beginning."
Hannity proceeded to insult the media, repeat the president's stump speech slogans, and laud Trump for fulfilling his campaign promises and bringing "4.5 million new American jobs, 4.3 million Americans off food stamps."
Dana Rohrabacher faces his toughest election yet. If he wins, he’ll owe it to legal pot
LOS ANGELES — For the first time in two decades, US Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California is facing a serious challenge to his seat in Congress. A 15-term incumbent Republican who occupies what has long been considered a safe red district in deep-blue Southern California has spent months effectively tied with his Democratic challenger, in what has become one of the most closely watched, and competitive, congressional races this year.
If Rohrabacher loses, his supporters and detractors will likely chalk it up to Orange County’s “blue wave,” as well as the eccentric congressman’s unusual and unabashed support for Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. If he wins, however, he will owe much of the credit to his support for another pet cause — legal pot.
For years — long before recent ballot initiatives to legalize recreational marijuana gained traction in several states — marijuana has been a peculiar side interest for Rohrabacher, a congressman from a tony, and reliably red, district that includes some of Southern California’s most affluent coastal communities.
Now, that longtime support for cannabis and the budding industry around its legal use has become something of a political lifeline, fueling his campaign with much-needed infusions of cash.
Andrew Gillum's optimistic campaign for Florida governor turned into a battle against Trump
The scope of Andrew Gillum’s talent became clear to a national audience on Oct. 25, when he invented what will likely be the way Democrats talk about Trump Republicanism for years to come:
"Now, I'm not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist,” Gillum said of his Republican rival for the governorship of Florida, Ron DeSantis, during a debate. “I'm simply saying the racists believe he's a racist.”
That is, more or less, what Hillary Clinton meant to say when she sneered at the “basket of deplorables,” and what Barack Obama never quite found a way to get at when Republicans demanded his birth certificate. And it’s an emblem of how the little-known Tallahassee mayor has shown Democrats a new path in the Trump era, a way to balance the poll-tested imperative to stay positive with the demand that they respond to the vitriolic and sometimes openly racist style of Trump Republicanism.
In a wide-ranging interview in the back of an SUV leaving a Miami rally last week, Gillum explained to BuzzFeed News why he’d said what he did on that debate stage in Davie, rather than simply calling DeSantis a racist.
Facebook has blocked more accounts linked to possible foreign interference in the midterm elections
Hours before polls opened in the midterm elections, Facebook announced that it has blocked another network of Facebook and Instagram accounts following a tip from US law enforcement agencies.
The company said late Monday night that it has blocked 30 Facebook accounts and 85 Instagram accounts that it believes were “engaged in coordinated unauthentic behavior.”
“Almost all the Facebook Pages associated with these accounts appear to be in the French or Russian languages, while the Instagram accounts seem to have mostly been in English — some were focused on celebrities, others political debate,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, wrote in a blog post.
"Once we know more — including whether these accounts are linked to the Russia-based Internet Research Agency or other foreign entities, we will update this post,” Gleicher added.
The news from Facebook follows a joint statement from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and FBI Director Christopher Wray acknowledging that while there was no indication that US election infrastructure had been compromised in the lead-up to Tuesday’s vote, foreign operatives have continued to try to influence voters and election outcomes.
“But Americans should be aware that foreign actors — and Russia in particular — continue to try to influence public sentiment and voter perceptions through actions intended to sow discord,” the statement said. “They can do this by spreading false information about political processes and candidates, lying about their own interference activities, disseminating propaganda on social media, and through other tactics.”
Native Americans aren’t fighting for Democrats in North Dakota — they’re fighting for their voice
Many people here see the voter ID law — which went into effect 30 days before Election Day, after being tied up in court for years — as nothing short of an explicit effort to suppress the Native American vote. The law requires peoples’ identification cards to have a street address, but out here on the reservation, almost nobody has an address on their IDs. They use P.O. boxes instead. And in much of the countryside of the sprawling reservation, there aren’t even addresses to begin with.
Just like so many times before, the tribes are fighting back. Native Americans in North Dakota say they want to prove something to the people they believe passed the law to stop them from voting: This election, despite the obstacles in their path, they want to have the highest Native voter turnout ever.
The elections will decide if millions of people will gain health insurance through Medicaid
Two competing forces are at work. Four states will vote directly on expanding Medicaid and a half-dozen close gubernatorial races are between candidates who are either for or against expansion. The stakes are high: In Florida alone, 1.3 million people could gain health insurance through expansion. The candidates there, Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum, are on opposite sides of the expansion argument.
Other states are moving in the opposite direction, instituting work requirements that boot people from Medicaid if they don’t work, train, or volunteer for a certain number of hours every week. In 2018, these two movements have come to a head.
This former minor league baseball player thinks he can beat Congress's most notorious racist
It's a strange time out here in Iowa, which is still in harvest season as the election quickly approaches. Reading Twitter, you'd get the sense that US Rep. Steve King is burning crosses in the cornfields. In fact, King is largely absent. He’s only going up with his first TV ad on Friday. He’s less a local politician than a global celebrity of the far right, and the outrages that tipped some of his own party’s leadership against him were international: an interview with a far-right Austrian journalist in which he talked about “the Great Replacement” of “our babies” with “somebody else’s babies”; his endorsement of the anti-Semite third-place finisher in the race for mayor of...Toronto.
J.D. Scholten doesn’t talk about that much. Like many of the congressional races this year, the wrenching national conversation here is a dull background roar — one that only just became audible after a poll this week showed the race close, and some Republicans and King donors started to pull their support, especially after this past weekend’s anti-Semitic attack in Pittsburgh.