What You Need To Know
- Republicans won enough seats Tuesday night to take control of the Senate.
- Three young lawmakers lead the wave: Cory Gardner, Joni Ernst, and Tom Cotton.
- Other Republicans held on in a big way, too, including Gov. Scott Walker.
What happened tonight
Republicans blew through expectations Tuesday night, winning the control of the U.S. Senate far earlier than projected, holding onto key governorships around the country, and winning other governors' races in very blue states.
And the GOP could still win more seats in the Senate, as Louisiana's race heads to a December runoff.
The short-term political consequences aren't huge in Congress: Washington will remain iced for the last two years of President Obama's presidency, with Republicans now controlling both houses of Congress. What exactly Republicans will pursue next year is unclear; already, Sen. Ted Cruz has indicated he means to push hard for the repeal of Obamacare by any means necessary. But the wave of new lawmakers — and the successful retention of Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts — gives Republicans more seats than expected down the road, even if they lose the majority in 2016.
The new Republican class is led by three young lawmakers — Arkansas' Tom Cotton, Colorado's Cory Gardner, and Joni Ernst, who came out of nowhere this year to become Iowa's first female statewide elected official. Cotton and Ernst are the first Iraq War veterans to be elected to the Senate.
Currently an outspoken hawk in the House of Representatives, Cotton will likely become the latest addition to the Senate's core group of hawkish Republicans: Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte, as well as a few others who share similar views on Israel, domestic surveillance, and U.S. military intervention. Ernst, who McCain and Sen. Marco Rubio campaigned for this fall, will probably also be more in line with this group.
Gardner, meanwhile, defeated Sen. Mark Udall this year in a tight Colorado race that became almost exclusively about reproductive issues — and Gardner's previous support for a personhood amendment. Gardner, along with the new senator-elect in North Carolina, Thom Tillis, became one of a class of Republicans to advocate for over-the-counter contraceptives. Republicans also flipped Senate seats in Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia.
The new Senate class is joined by Republican successes in a number of governor's races — most notably Govs. Rick Scott of Florida and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who looked to be in serious trouble during the final weeks of the campaign. Meaning: Walker's potential 2016 bid stays alive. The Republican, hailed by conservatives as a union buster, escaped again.
Scott and Walker aren't alone. Republican governor candidates also won in blue states like Maryland, Maine, and Illinois — as well as pulling out tighter races in Georgia, Michigan, and Arizona.
Who suffered the biggest loss in Maryland? Martin O'Malley
Republican Larry Hogan wins Maryland gubernatorial race
Republican Larry Hogan has won the Maryland gubernatorial race with nearly 52% of the vote in one of the biggest surprises in the country.
Hogan won decisively, despite campaign support in recent weeks from President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
The Associated Press called the race for Hogan, a Maryland businessman, just after midnight:
Brown, an African American who was lieutenant governor under Martin O'Malley, had in recent months been widely expected to coast to victory in Maryland, a deep blue state.
But in recent days the race was being called a toss up, even as Brown drummed up support from the President and First Lady at campaign events in the Democratic strongholds of Prince George's County and Baltimore.
Harry Reid congratulates Mitch McConnell
Harry Reid put out a statement congratulating Mitch McConnell on becoming the Senate majority leader.
"I'd like to congratulate Senator McConnell, who will be the new Senate Majority Leader. The message from voters is clear: they want us to work together. I look forward to working with Senator McConnell to get things done for the middle class."
Ernst defeats Braley in Iowa Senate race
Tillis defeats Hagan in North Carolina, Republicans win Senate control
Democrat Kay Hagan lost to Republican Thom Tillis in North Carolina
Hagan tried hard to make her campaign a referendum on Tillis' work in the state legislature. Tills tied Hagan to Obama and Washington Democrats at every turn.
Tillis had been the speaker of the North Carolina state house and under him, the legislature had passed a number of conservative laws that spawned "Moral Monday" protests through out the state. Progressives meanwhile weren't exactly thrilled with Hagan, who positioned herself as a moderate Republican.
Both Democrats and Republicans had poured money into the state. While Hagan had tried to distance herself from Obama, he recently cut a radio ad and spoke to several North Carolina radio stations to try and get out the vote for her.
Roberts wins re-election in Kansas Senate race
Republican Sen. Pat Roberts defeated independent challenger Gary Orman in Kansas' hotly contested and often times unpredictable Senate race.
Kansas was a key race that Republicans needed to retain in order to gain control of the Senate, but Roberts was considered to be vulnerable, with both Republicans and Democrats in Kansas attacking him for being out of touch.
The race was thrown into chaos when Democrat Chad Taylor withdrew from the race in September, leaving Roberts to face a more competitive challenger in Orman. Polls in the weeks leading up to the election had the race neck and neck, but in the end, Kansan's decided to send the Republican to the Senate, a trend they haven't veered away from since 1932.
Perdue defeats Nunn in Georgia Senate race
Republican David Perdue defeated Democrat Michelle Nunn in Georgia to occupy the Georgia Senate seat vacated by retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss. This race was a key victory for Republicans in their path towards a majority in the Senate.
Perdue came under attack from the Nunn campaign for outsourcing jobs while CEO of Dollar General, a claim he denied. For her part, Nunn tried to distance herself from President Obama, at one point trying to associate herself with former President George H.W. Bush, but Perdue continued to associate Nunn with the President and his policies.
The race was seen as one of the most competitive in the country, with many predicting a potential run-off due to Georgia's requirement that a candidate get more than 50% of the vote to claim victory.
More Blue Dog Democrats lose
The ever dwindling group of so-called Blue Dog Democrats lost two more members tonight: John Barrow of Georgia and Nick Rahall of West Virginia.
Rahall has been in the House since the 1970's. Both men have been top targets for Republicans in recent cycles but have managed to hold on until now. Blue Dog Democrats are typically more conservative members and many were beat by Republicans in 2010. Rahall lost to Republican Evan Jenkins and Barrow lost to Rick Allen.
Democrat Jim Cooper of Tennessee won his re-election.
Massachusetts elects out LGBT attorney general — a first in the country
In Massachusetts, Maura Healey, is due to become the first out LGBT state attorney general in the country.
With 75 percent of precincts reporting — and despite a too-close-to-call governor's race for her boss, current Attorney General Martha Coakley — Healey was trouncing her opponent, John Miller, 63-37.
As an assistant attorney general in the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office, Healey played a key role in the state's fight against the Defense of Marriage Act, arguing at the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals against the law in 2012.
LGBT advocates celebrated the victory. "We're thrilled for Maura Healey, who has become the first openly LGBT state attorney general in the country," said Chuck Wolfe, the president of the Victory Fund, which backs out LGBT candidates for office. "She's long been a fighter for our community, and now she'll be fighting for the whole of Massachusetts."
Calling Healey "an inspirational trailblazer," Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin said, "Maura Healey is one of the staunchest advocates for equality we have in this country, and we join her in celebrating her historic victory tonight" — adding that she "will fight to guarantee civil rights and legal equality for all people of Massachusetts."
Out congressional challengers have not fared as well on Tuesday, with Clay Aiken losing his bid for a House seat in North Carolina, Sean Eldridge losing in New York, and Richard Tisei losing in Massachusetts.
One of the state races being watched most closely by the Victory Fund is Mike Michaud's bid to unset Maine Gov. Paul LePage, but the race at this hour remains too close to call.
Obama calling election winners on both sides of the aisle
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker wins re-election
Republican Gov. Scott Walker won his re-election bid in a competitive race against Madison School Board Member Mary Burke.
Walker, who survived a recall in 2012, campaigned on his conservative record of cutting taxes and fighting collective bargaining, promising more of the same in a second term. Burke argued that Walker's policies were too controversial and had failed to bring prosperity to Wisconsin.
The win ensures Walker will continue to be talked about as a potential GOP presidential contender in 2016.
Udall falls to Gardner in Colorado
Republican Rep. Cory Gardner defeated incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in a major victory for the Republican Party as they map out a path to a majority in the Senate.
Gardner attacked Udall for his support of the Affordable Care Act and other policies advocated by President Obama. Udall focused his campaign largely on women's issues.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott wins re-election
Incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott secured re-election in Florida, defeating Charlie Crist in a close and contentious race.
The state's economy took a central role in the campaign, with Scott citing job creation during his tenure as the main reason to keep him in office.
Crist was the former Republican governor of the state, before switching parties after a failed Senate bid in 2012, leading many in the state to question his policy convictions.
The race was among the most negative in the country, with animosity between the two candidates reaching a head in their second televised debate. Scott initially refused to come onto the debate stage because Crist had a small fan placed under his podium.
Elizabeth Warren was the most popular politician on Facebook on Election Day
She wasn't on the ballot, but Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren was the most popular politician on Facebook this Election Day, according to Facebook data. The rest of the list was made up of Republicans.
"The top election-related content shared by political figures on Facebook today. And they are listed in rank order by total number of interactions (likes, comments, shares)."
- Elizabeth Warren
- Paul Ryan
- Marco Rubio
- Scott Walker
Louisiana headed for a runoff election
Sen. Mary Landrieu, the Democratic incumbent, and Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy have failed to capture 50 percent of the vote.
Republican Steve Daines wins Montana Senate race
Republican Steve Daines will win the Montana Senate race
Republican Rep. Steve Daines will be Montana's next senator, defeating State Rep. Amanda Curtis. The seat is a pick up for Republicans, flipping a blue seat to a red one.
Daines was a heavy favorite to win from the get go, even before Sen. John Walsh had to exit his re-election bid in August after plagiarism allegations surfaced against him. Walsh was replaced by Curtis, who was hand-picked by state Democrats at a nominating convention.
Florida Republican becomes first House incumbent to lose on election night
Steve Southerland, a Florida Republican, became the first incumbent to lose re-election tonight.
Southerland lost to Democrat Gwen Graham, the AP reported.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, EMILY's List, and other groups invested heavily in the race. According to a DCCC aide, the group spent $2.5 million on television and $150,000 on digital. They also invested heavily in ground staff.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott defeats Wendy Davis in the Texas governor's race
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott will be the next governor of Texas.
Abbott, a conservative who delights in his role as an attacker of the Obama administration, will follow more than a decade of Rick Perry governing the state. He will be the first governor to be in a wheelchair since 1982.
Abbott defeats Wendy Davis, the state senator who captured major national attention following her filibuster of an abortion law in the state. The campaign never quite took off for Davis, despite her role as sort of a big hope for national Democrats hoping to turn Texas blue either now or in the future. The campaign especially stalled in recent weeks, drawing attention to Abbott's disability in an ad, and asking whether he would defend a ban on interracial marriage, despite his own marriage to a Mexican-American woman.
LGBT advocates at Human Rights Campaign watching Senate
The advocates at the Human Rights Campaign — including the LGBT rights group's president, Chad Griffin, front right — are following tonight's elections closely, with a spokesman telling BuzzFeed News that their eyes glued to the Senate returns.
The spokesman hedged, though, adding, "The partisan makeup won't dictate our ability to advocate for pro-equality legislation."
HRC endorsed 22 candidates for Senate. Thus far, Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor is the only HRC-endorsed candidate to have lost his race. The only Republican the group endorsed for Senate, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, won re-election.
In South Dakota, Republican Mike Rounds wins the Senate race — flipping a key seat for Republicans from Democratic control.
BuzzFeed News projects Gov. Andrew Cuomo will win re-election in New York, according to @AoSHQDD
Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo was re-elected Tuesday.
The general election challenge for the governor was never the trouble, after a summer that was a little more complicated with a primary challenger, Zephyr Teachout, attacking Cuomo from his left.
White House: Dem wins in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire "a big deal"
Officials at the White House, like most of D.C. in the political profession, are keeping a close eye on results as they come in.
"Jeanne Shaheen win is a big deal," a White House official told BuzzFeed News. "Tom Wolf too."
Beyond that, the official said "no deep thoughts" on election 2014 yet from the White House.
Obama will host bipartisan post-election meeting at the White House Friday
From a White House official:
"The President has invited bipartisan, bicameral congressional leaders to a meeting at the White House on Friday afternoon. We'll have more details later this week."
A tale of two Pauls
Sen. Rand Paul was in Kentucky celebrating the victory of his colleague Mitch McConnell and a potential Republican-controlled Senate when he retweeted and then deleted a tweet about the crowd cheering for him to run for president.
Meanwhile, his father, former representative and presidential candidate Ron Paul, had his own take on what a Republican takeover of the Senate would mean.
Shaheen wins re-election in New Hampshire
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen will hold onto her seat, overcoming a challenge from former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown.
Brown had relocated from Massachusetts to the granite state this year, opening himself up to attacks from Democrats that he was a carpetbagger.
The race was one of the key potential pick up seats for Republicans, which ultimately failed.
Crist Latino margin of victory lower than expected, pollster says
In a close race that is yet to be decided, Charlie Crist only won Latinos 52%-45%, according to Latino Decisions. The reason why? Cuban-Americans had higher turnout than Puerto Ricans, Colombians, Mexicans, and other groups, Matt Barreto of Latino Decisions told BuzzFeed News.
The numbers are surprising after a recent look by the polling firm showed Crist up 53-29 among Latinos, but are worse for Scott than he did in 2010 when the Latino vote was split 48%-48%.
But the +7 for Crist among Latinos could be enough to be the difference, Barreto said.
"That could provide the margin," Barreto said. "At +7 in a close race, if he wins by 1.1% or less, he wins because of Latinos."
Tom Cotton defeats Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor in Arkansas
Republican Rep. Tom Cotton will be the next senator from Arkansas, defeating Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor.
Cotton will likely be adopted by the hawkish set in the Senate, led by John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte, and a few others, on issues that include domestic surveillance, Israel, and the U.S. presence in the Middle East. Cotton is only 37 years old and served in Iraq and Afghanistan, after attending Harvard.
The seat is a key gain for Republicans in their bid to control the Senate.
Russia Today is covering the election as only they can
The name of the game is voter suppression.
Unopposed Jeff Sessions wins another term in the Senate
Some races are close, some races are landslides, and some races are Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions' victory Tuesday night. The unopposed Sessions cruised to another term in the Senate seat he's occupied since 1997.
Crist loses request to keep polls open late in Florida
Charlie Crist's attempt to have the polls stay open late — until 9 p.m. — in Broward County was rejected by the judge hearing the request, the Palm Beach Post's George Bennett reported. Crist will not appeal.
The former governor is running, as a Democrat this time around, to unseat Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
Steve Israel puts on a happy face
The chairman of the Democrats' House campaign arm put on a happy face for reporters on Tuesday night, insisting that House Democrats were doing as well as could be expected in a tough environment.
Israel said that "not a single incumbent is down or out," and told reporters that the DCCC had contacted 41 million voters and registered 80,000 new voters in tight districts.
"Everything within our control we are performing well if not over-performing. Since we have no control of what's not in our control, we don't wring our hands over that," he said.
Additionally, Israel said that a slew of international issues had made the Democratic message more difficult to get to voters.
"You had Ukraine, ISIS, Ebola, and Syria, and rockets flying from Gaza into Israel. Who would have thought that in the election in the last two weeks leading up to a midterm election would be dominated by international issues," he said.
"It made it much more difficult to talk about with the voters about the pocketbook issues on which they fundamentally agree with Democrats."
Cory Booker will win U.S. Senate race in New Jersey, Pennsylvania Governor Corbett loses re-election.
New Jersey's Cory Booker has won reelection, securing his first full term in the U.S. Senate. The former mayor of Newark won a sprint of a special election last year for the seat occupied by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who passed away in office.
Booker is still finding his footing in Washington. Known for his loud, everywhere-at-once style as mayor, he's kept a surprisingly quiet profile as senator. What will Booker watchers be looking for now? Whether that changes starting Nov. 5.
Other races called:
Latinos still heavily support Democrats over Republicans
Much has been written about whether Latinos were turned off from voting for Democrats after Obama's immigration delay, but at least in terms of the margin, they don't seem to have shifted to voting for Republicans, according to a poll of 10 key states by Latino Decisions. In 2012, they supported Obama 71% to 27% over Mitt Romney.
Still, the big question is not whether they are now supporting Republicans but whether they turned out for Democrats in large enough numbers.
Polls just closed in a ton of states at 8 p.m. Here are the key races to watch:
The polls closed in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Colombia, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Michigan, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Maine.
The key races to watch in these states:
The Senate race in New Hampshire between incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown
The Senate race in Kansas between incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts and independent challenger Greg Orman
The governor's race in Texas between State Sen. Wendy Davis and State Attorney General Greg Abbott
The governor's race in Massachusetts between State Attorney General Martha Coakley and Charlie Baker
The governor's race in Maine between incumbent Gov. Paul LePage and Rep. Mike Michaud
The governor's race in Connecticut between incumbent Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) and Thomas Foley
The governor's race in Maryland between Larry Hogan and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown
The governor's race in Michigan between incumbent Gov. Rick Snyder and Mark Schauer
The governor's race in Rhode Island between Allan Fung and Gina Raimondo
The governor's race in New Hampshire between Walt Havenstein and incumbent Gov. Maggie Hassan
In an interview with KDCA radio Tuesday evening, Vice President Joe Biden said "a leading Republican senator" up for re-election called him to say he and four other senators wanted to work with him after the election.
"This particular senator said, 'If I win tonight' — a Republican — 'I'm going to announce that when I do my acceptance speech. Is that OK?' I said 'Sure, it's OK.'"
Republicans gain their first Senate seat of the night
Shelley Moore Capito wins in West Virginia.
The Virginia race remains close, with the candidates virtually tied with just 5% of votes left to count.
Mark Warner and John Kasich win re-election
Sen. Mark Warner, the U.S. senator from Virginia, has won a second term in office. His race against Ed Gillespie, a first-time candidate and the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, was called just after polls closed.
In Ohio, another incumbent won as expected.
Gov. John Kasich beat Ed FitzGerald, the county executive whose campaign had to beat back a spate of controversies this year.
Polls just closed in North Carolina, West Virginia, and Ohio.
The key race to watch in this state is the Senate race in North Carolina between Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican state House speaker Thom Tillis.
Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito is expected to win West Virginia's Senate race, making her the first woman senator elected by the state and flipping a previously Democratic seat to red.
Kentucky Sen. McConnell wins re-election, along with South Carolina senators Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham.
Based on Ace of Spades data, BuzzFeed News projected Tuesday evening that the three Republicans all would retain their Senate seats.
McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, defeated Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Graham defeated Democrat Brad Hutto.
Scott was running in a special election after being appointed to his seat when Jim DeMint resigned. He defeated Democrat Joyce Dickerson.
How does the White House view the 2014 elections?
A former White House official emailed BuzzFeed News this take on the midterms just as polls began to close:
"Couple things I'm hearing from smart Ds:
1) silver lining of GOP senate if it breaks that way may be movement on trade issues
2) saw Cruz saying yesterday they'll vote on Obamacare repeal forever. that's terrible strategy, but more than that, it underscores the huge desire and pressure there's going to be for them to push legislation that appeals to their base. that's good for the members but terrible for 2016 -- a predicament they've been caught in for a while but in a less high profile way with Reid controlling the Senate. Get ready for personhood, obamacare, benghazi craziness, etc. The Fox News Senate."
The DCCC is asking people to make Election Day calls — at 6 p.m.
While you are waiting for election results, please enjoy these photos of dogs at polling places:
Late Tuesday, Kanye West tweeted his support for "the Democratic ticket."
Five things to know from the early exit polls — and two reasons not to take them too seriously
The television networks pay for a massive network of exit polling — workers who interview voters around the country as they exit polling places. And while early exit polls often get the results of elections wrong, they provide a rough early snapshot of what the electorate was thinking.
1) About 44% of voters approve of how President Barack Obama is doing his job — and 54% disapprove. That's nearly as bad as the 2006 midterm elections, when George Bush's unpopularity (57% of voters disapproved of him) helped wipe out his party.
2) 79% of voters say they disapprove of the job Congress is doing — about par for the course these days.
3) Voters actually have a slightly more positive view of the Democratic Party — 44% — than of the Republican Party — 40%; cold comfort tonight, but could be something to give Democrats hope in 2016.
4) Only 31% of voters say they think the United States is headed in the right direction. Nearly two-thirds say America is going the wrong way.
5) About half of voters say illegal immigrants should have a chance to earn legal status — but 37% say they want illegal immigrants deported.
6) The people who turn out to vote in midterms are traditionally the loyalist party soldiers, plus whoever's angriest. These exit polls won't necessarily tell you anything about the 2016 presidential election, or about Americans' views at large.
7) These numbers themselves will change tonight as pollsters adjust the composition of the exit poll sample to match the composition of the electorate.
Joe Biden will decide by the spring whether he's running for president.
Speaking on Scranton local radio station Rock 107's show Prospector, Vice President Joe Biden said a presidential campaign decision would be made by "the end of the spring."
Polls just closed in Kentucky and Indiana
Polls have been trending well for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell against his challenger, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, in recent days.
Obama encourages people to go vote for Kay Hagan in North Carolina radio interview
President Obama did three radio interviews in North Carolina on Monday, the White House announced Tuesday night. In an interview with a Charlotte area station, Obama urged people to go out and vote for incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, calling her a "a fine senator" and telling listeners "the stakes in this election are very high."
"The stakes are very high in this election because what I'm able to accomplish in the next two years and what the country is able to accomplish in the next two years depends on having strong members of the Senate who care more about the people who sent them there rather than they do about special interests and lobbyists, and Kay Hagan has been all about that," Obama said on the program, Artie in the Afternoon.
"The good news is we are seeing historic turnout with the African-American community," the president said.
Hagan has sought to distance herself from the president in her race against Republican Thom Tillis, but Obama recently cut a radio ad for her.
Listen to the full interview here.
Obama did 14 radio interviews in key states on Monday and Tuesday
Per the White House pool, President Obama did radio interviews in several key states with close gubernatorial and senate races. The interviews were with stations in Wisconsin, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Florida, Maryland, Illinois, and North Carolina.
The full list:
Tuesday, Nov. 4: Reggie Brown in the Afternoon — WKKV (Milwaukee) Frankie Darcell — WXMD (Detroit)/WDAS (Philadelphia) Rick Party in the Afternoon — WHQT (Miami) The Colin McEnroe Show — WNPR (Hartford, Connecticut)
Monday, Nov. 3 The Frank Ski Show — WHUR (D.C./Maryland/Virginia) Earl Stokes in the Afternoon — WJMR (Milwaukee) The Konan Show — WERQ (Baltimore) UB Rodriguez — WGCI (Chicago) No Limit Larry in the Morning — WPEG (Charlotte, North Carolina) Mildred Gaddis Show — WCHB (Detroit) Artie and Fly Ty in the Afternoon — WBAV (Charlotte) Mike and Friends in the Morning — WFMI (Elizabeth City, North Carolina) The 3 Live Crew — WJMH (Greensboro, North Carolina) The Larry Young Morning Show — WOLB (Baltimore)
Scott Brown pokes daughter in the stomach, says "she's gotten a little soft."
It turns out Udall could have focused more on immigration after all.
Latino voters in Colorado weren't fully aware of immigration differences between Mark Udall and Cory Gardner in the tight Senate race, BuzzFeed News has learned.
Much has been made of Udall's focus on reproductive rights, where polls have consistently shown him behind the Republican Gardner. While Latino voters could decide the race, some have said Udall's focus on Latinos and immigration was too little, too late. This narrative has picked up steam, with Udall's camp and fellow Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet recently denying it.
"The contrast is so stark between the two candidates on the issue of immigration reform … I think the people here understand there's an enormous difference," Bennet told MSNBC Monday. "You may be right that it hasn't been litigated that much, but the distinction could not be clearer."
Turns out he was wrong.
BuzzFeed News has learned that reliable polling in Colorado is suggesting that voters were not well-informed on the distinctions on immigration stances between the two candidates. The information suggests that Udall could have done a better job defining himself and Gardner on immigration among a sizable share of Latino voters.
While Udall was one of the most outspoken senators on the issue of administrative actions on immigration, some say his camp worried too much about the "risk-reward" of immigration advertising.
"Some worried with the migrant crisis at the border, if they talked too much about it in English," one source said. "But in Spanish I don't see how you lose."
When the Udall camp went up with Spanish-language ads, for example, they were about veterans — not about immigration.
Obama's super-secret, last-minute ad campaign
With no time left for Republicans to point and yell, "Look, a Democrat embracing Obama!" Democrats in the final hours of the midterms are embracing President Obama. Neither the White House nor the campaigns want to talk much about it, though.
On Tuesday, reports emerged that Obama starred in a radio ad for North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan, one of the few red-state Democratic incumbents the party establishment feels good about heading into election night.
At the daily press briefing, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said it was up to campaigns to announce when Obama was participating in a race and declined to list other places Obama might be making a late appearance in commercials, robocalls, or other GOTV efforts.
"We have deferred to the individual campaigns to make decisions about how and when and whether to release this information," he said. "Once the campaigns are over, then we'll have a little bit more latitude to share some more of that information with you."
In Florida, the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Charlie Crist chose to exercise their discretion over presidential appearances by not releasing anything to the press after the Miami Herald caught Obama's voice in an Election Day Crist radio ad.
"We tried to get a full recording or script from the Crist campaign Monday, but received no response," the Herald reported, "either because they were tied up on the day before Election Day, or because the ad was intended to go under the radar."
Holder visits Voting Rights Section.
Attorney General Eric Holder visited the Civil Rights Division's Voting Section on Tuesday to thank the staffers for their work.
Holder's spokesman, Brian Fallon, gave the following information about the visit:
This afternoon, Attorney General Holder visited the offices of the Civil Rights Division's Voting Section, which are located in downtown Washington. The Attorney General thanked the lawyers and staff for monitoring calls and fielding election-related complaints of potential violations of federal voting laws. The Attorney General told them their work is among the most critical responsibilities that the Department performs. The Civil Rights Division enforces a range of voting-related statutes, including the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act, the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act and the Help America Vote Act. Lawyers in the division's Voting Section have been staffing a hotline since early this morning, fielding calls from across the country.
On Monday, the Justice Department announced that it would have monitors on the ground in 18 states on Election Day.
A lot of candidates are still asking for money, even though it's Election Day and the campaign is now obviously over.
Rep. Scott Peters!
Rep. Julia Brownley!
Sen. Tom Udall!
And the Democratic Governors Association, who asks, "YOU'RE A GOOD DEMOCRAT — AREN'T YOU?"
This is what Latino voters care about during this election:
Latino Decisions has released an election eve poll that looks at what Latino voters care about this year in the key states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Nevada, North Carolina, and Texas. Here are four takeaways:
1. Immigration is the top issue facing the Latino community
Forty-five percent chose immigration with 34% choosing the economy or job creation, 21% citing education, and 17% health care.
2. Latinos' No. 1 reason to vote is to support the Latino community, not a party.
Voting in the best interest of the community came in at 37%, while voting for the Democrats was a close second at 34%. Supporting the Republicans was at 16%.
3. Two-thirds of Latinos say immigration is a top reason for choosing a candidate.
Sixty-seven percent said immigration was the most important issue or one of the most important issues in selecting a candidate.
4. Fifty-eight percent of Latino voters know an undocumented immigrant.
Hey, reminder: We might not know if Republicans take the Senate tonight.
Earlier we went through the math on the main question of the day: Will Republicans take the Senate?
(The short version: Republicans need to gain six seats to win control of the Senate. They have 10 opportunities to win seats — and they have two opportunities to lose seats.)
But it's unclear if we'll actually know the answer tonight.
Of those 12 races we're watching, there are three critical races where the outcome might not be completely decided until some point after tonight on the east coast:
Alaska: Returns won't start coming in until 1 a.m. ET. Republicans could pick up a seat there, where Dan Sullivan might beat Democratic Sen. Mark Begich.
Louisiana: Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu seems likely to lose, ultimately. But if neither she nor challenger Bill Cassidy hits the 50% mark tonight, the race goes to runoff on Dec. 6, which is a Saturday, so hooray.
Georgia: This is an open seat, but one Republicans could lose. Polls in recent days have shown Republican David Perdue doing better, but Democrat Michelle Nunn has a good shot at winning, too. If Nunn wins, Republicans would lose a seat. If no one hits 50% tonight, though, like Louisiana, this race goes to a runoff — on Jan. 6.
There are scenarios where it could be clear tonight, but you sound like you have a very tenuous grasp on your sanity when explaining the hypotheticals ("Well, if Pat Roberts holds on in Kansas, and Cory Gardner wins but Scott Brown loses…").
But basically: If Republicans somehow manage to sweep Montana, West Virginia, South Dakota, Arkansas, Iowa, Colorado, New Hampshire, and North Carolina tonight, then they'll have won control of the Senate.
Tracking until the bitter end
Campaign trackers for America Rising, the Republican research firm, are running full steam ahead until the polls close on Election Day.
"The tracking never stops," Rising spokesperson Jeff Bechdel said.
Here's a Rising tracker filming Michigan Democratic Senate candidate Gary Peters this morning while he cast his ballot in Bloomfield Hills. The image was sent to BuzzFeed News by a democratic source. Rising confirmed the tracker photographed was theirs.
And here's tracker footage sent over by Rising of Independent Senate candidate Greg Orman after he voted in Kansas. Rising noted Orman, who has been cagey about which party he most closely associates with, declined to say who he voted for in the state's pitched gubernatorial contest.
Senator makes stump speech — on a stump.
The Washington Post's Katie Zezima captures Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet making a stump speech — on a stump. Udall is in a tight race for a second term against Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, who is leading most polls.
Rand Paul: Sure, it's fine if D.C. legalizes weed.
BOWLING GREEN, Kentucky — Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said on Tuesday that he doesn't think Congress should get involved in trying to stop Washington, D.C., from legalizing marijuana.
Congress has oversight over D.C.'s budget, and in the pass conservatives have sought to include language on issues ranging from abortion to needle exchange programs. Although Congress has given the District greater autonomy in recent years, the House held hearings this year on the city's medical marijuana law.
"I think there should be a certain amount of discretions for both states and territories and the District," Rand Paul said when asked about the legalization measure on D.C.'s ballot by BuzzFeed News after he voted in Bowling Green, Kentucky, on Tuesday.
"I think really when we set up our country, we intended that most crime or not crime, things we determine to be crime or not crimes is really to be determined by localities," Paul said.
He would not say whether he supports the legalization measure itself.
"I'm not for having the federal government get involved," Paul said. "I haven't really taken a stand on the actual legislation or the legalization; I haven't taken a stand on that."
Paul is in Kentucky this week campaigning for Sen. Mitch McConnell, in a re-election fight against Democrat Alison Lundergran Grimes.
White House: For the last time, this election is not about President Obama.
Question: Josh. Is today a referendum on the president?
White House press secretary Josh Earnest: Well, Jim, I think as your own poll that I cited earlier indicates, it's not. The fact is the voters — again, the voters who at least picked up the phone to talk to people who are conducting the poll for CNN indicated that at least a majority of them were not trying to send a message to the president with their vote, that something else was driving their decision.
Clay Aiken's bus broke down shortly after he voted for himself this morning.
Aiken is running against Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers in North Carolina's second congressional district.
"The bus couldn't keep up with the pace of our campaign, so we had to leave it behind," campaign spokesman Tucker Middleton told BuzzFeed News via email.
Aiken will continue on with his regular schedule via a backup car.
Ready for Hillary camps out at college campuses.
The Hillary Bus, the mascot of the super PAC backing a potential Hillary Clinton campaign, is camped out at the University of New Hampshire.
An official with Ready for Hillary said the group has visited 38 college campuses in key states like New Hampshire since the fall semester started. The super PAC has sent paid staff to swing states this year in an effort to support Democrats — in advance of what they hope will be another Clinton White House run.
Here's another look at the McConnell photobomber:
Cory Booker persuades last-minute voters — via DM.
In winter, he'll shovel snow from your driveway.
On Election Day, he'll tell you about his platform 140 characters at a time.
Booker is expected to win his first full term in the U.S. Senate. He won a special election last fall to replace Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died while in office.
How BuzzFeed News will call tonight's elections:
There's no dustier media ritual than the "calling" of elections — the television drum rolls, the Associated Press' opaque decision desk.
Finally this year, a small group of smart Americans on Twitter has rendered most of it irrelevant. An unusual combination of partisans on both sides have put together a formidable vote-counting operation, and — equally important — a transparent public discussion about it. There's the right-wing Ace of Spades Decision Desk, with its volunteer data operation; the left-wing DailyKos Elections, long a fair and rigorous source; and a group of sophisticated and interesting journalists, including national voices like FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver and deeply knowledgeable local reporters in every state, all examining the returns as they come in, explaining what they mean, catching the occasional vote-counting error, and — often hours before the pseudo-official AP call — telling readers who is going to win.
At BuzzFeed News, we respect and admire what the AP and television news decision desks do, despite their decision to keep much of their process and findings from the public. But we see them as voices among many, and ones who have lately often been outcompeted in the marketplace of fast, accurate, sophisticated, and transparent information. The work they've done to demystify the electoral process is one reason to think the nightmare of the 2000 election won't repeat itself, and is a truly hopeful sign for American democracy.
And so BuzzFeed News will look first to the players in the vibrant, transparent Twitter conversation to make our own calls and to power our election night graphic, and to make our own election night calls. That conversation, of course, includes the old players — the networks, the AP, and those of their staffers who haven't been forbidden from using Twitter. But it's led by the new players and new voices, and that's a good thing. (One key player in that space, Ace of Spades Decision Desk creator Brandon Finnigan (pictured above) will be working out of BuzzFeed's Los Angeles office.)
You can read more about these vote counters here. And their emergence is, as I wrote last month, not just a useful election night tool, but also a hopeful sign for American democracy in which, for once, partisans need no longer have dueling sets of facts.
McConnell photobombed while voting:
The Wendy Davis Wu-Tang-inspired T-shirt:
People in Guam want to smoke pot.
Tuesday could be a big day for marijuana, with multiple initiatives aimed at decriminalizing pot, legalizing pot, and generally making weed more accessible on ballots across the country. The first election results to come in in 2014, from the U.S. territory of Guam, contain good news for marijuana advocates.
The Pacific Daily News, a paper based in Guam, reported "more than 56% of voters" voted for medical marijuana.
A race where both candidates are touting their pro-LGBT credentials:
Nan Hayworth, the Republican former member of Congress from New York, voted on Tuesday in her effort to head back to Congress in a 2012 rematch campaign. She lost then to former Clinton staffer Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney. The race is one of a handful this year in which both candidates have touted their pro-LGBT bona fides.
Most recently, Hayworth ran an ad featuring her out gay son, Will, talking about why he supported her bid. The Human Rights Campaign, which has endorsed Maloney, responded, with HRC President Chad Griffin saying, "I have no doubt she loves her son, but her policy positions put her on the wrong side of history."
Hayworth, when in Congress, scored a 71 from HRC on its scorecard, co-sponsoring the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and joining fewer than a dozen Republicans in opposing four amendments offered by members of her own party that HRC opposed. In opposing Hayworth's bid to return to Congress, however, HRC also noted that Hayworth had not co-sponsored other pro-LGBT legislation — including the Respect for Marriage Act, which would have repealed DOMA.
Among other races where both major party candidates are pressing pro-LGBT messages are the two races in which the Republicans have put forward an out gay candidate: Richard Tisei's bid in Massachusetts against Seth Moulton, running to take over Rep. John Tierney's seat, and Carl DeMaio's bid, dogged by accusations of sexual harassment, to unseat Rep. Scott Peters in California.
Marijuana is on the ballot in five states this year, from Alaska to Maine, and it's one thing — other than stopping President Obama — that voters on Twitter seem to be excited about.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon posts photo of butt crack (and then deletes the tweet):
Here's Planned Parenthood's final GOTV push:
Planned Parenthood and its allied political action groups reported Tuesday their massive electoral efforts this cycle resulted in "more than 2 million doors" knocked and more than 1 million calls on behalf of pro-abortion rights candidates.
Democrats and their allies have tried to energize the women's vote with a focus on women's issues in 2014, including abortion access, contraception access, and a focus on income inequality. On Election Day, Planned Parenthood will tout the results of their efforts in a new social media campaign, a top official at the organization told BuzzFeed News.
Anti-abortion advocates are also bragging about their electoral efforts this cycle. Susan B. Anthony List said it reached close to 900,000 voters through its own grass roots efforts.
Here's Planned Parenthood's video touting its 2014 programs:
Progressives feeling great in Maine:
Progressives watching the polls in Maine, where the left aims to defeat Republican Gov. Paul LePage, say early turnout numbers are giving them a reason for hope. Maine was one of the few states where President Obama campaigned personally this cycle, and his allies in the state say things are looking good for Democrats.
"It's still early, but everyone saying turnout is closer to presidential year numbers than midterms," an organized labor official on the ground told BuzzFeed News in an email. Democrats in the state cite long lines at polling places in progressive precincts including "in Rockland, a Dem town where they even changed the polling location at the last minute (and half the town is without power.)"
Lil Jon flew to Atlanta to vote after he didn't get an absentee ballot:
The pro-life group that's been sending "public health alert" mailers says it's reached almost 900,000 people this cycle.
Susan B. Anthony List, the pro-life group, trumpeted Tuesday what it called a "historic ground effort" by anti-abortion advocates in the 2014 cycle. While Democrats have leaned into abortion rights as part of their "war on women" efforts, anti-abortion activists at SBA List say they have successfully kept opposition to abortion a key part of the Republican agenda, citing their grassroots effort. SBA List reported Tuesday its members have contacted more than 877,000 voters directly through grassroots efforts in North Carolina, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Kansas.
Details on the SBA List efforts here.
SBA List is the group that sent mailers with official-looking envelops reading "public health alert" on the front to Iowa voters — about Rep. Bruce Braley's position on abortion.
Joe Biden hit the airwaves this morning.
The vice president pushed a get-out-the-vote message.
As the Associated Press reported:
He told a Scranton radio host that even if Republicans win control of the Senate, he and President Barack Obama will push for policies that address what he called an "overwhelming dislocation of wealth."
Biden said wealthy hedge fund managers should not pay lower tax rates than middle-income Americans. He said oil and gas corporations should not get tax breaks. Obama has been unable to change those taxes even with a Democratic majority in the Senate.
An MSNBC producer is reporting some polling place issues in Ohio — impacting his father:
Voting trouble reported in Connecticut.
People at three polling places in Hartford are reporting no registrar books and names being written by hand — slowing the process down, according to local media.
Computer glitches are also causing delays. The Secretary of State's office said it is working to fix the issues.
Connecticut features a contested governor's race as incumbent Democrat Dannel Malloy faces Republican Thomas Foley.
It’s Election Day in America.
Polls are now open on most of the East Coast.
The core question of the day is: Will Republicans take control of the U.S. Senate?
Most people now expect this to happen — a near-wave of Republican seats delivering a narrow majority in the Senate. This rests on the outcome of a few key, close races in states where President Obama and some of the administration's policies are especially unpopular.
There are also an absurd number of close gubernatorial races this year: The Wisconsin (Scott Walker vs. Mary Burke) and Florida (Rick Scott vs. Charlie Crist) races have received the most attention (they're nasty races). In total, 36 states will elect or re-elect a governor on Tuesday. But from Connecticut to Georgia and Illinois, it's a real tough year for incumbent governors in about a dozen states. It's also one for weird outcomes: A Republican (Charlie Baker) will likely win the governorship of Massachusetts tonight.
But back to the Senate question. Whether Republicans take the Senate is the thing BuzzFeed News will be most focused on tonight, and while most people expect it to happen, it's not a sure thing.
Here's the math:
Republicans need to finish the night with a net gain of six — i.e., turn a blue, Democratic seat into a red, Republican seat. To put that numerically: Republicans need to be +6.
There are three seats that Republicans are widely expected to pick up: Montana (+1), South Dakota (+2), and West Virginia (+3).
There is one seat Republicans seem very likely to pick up: Arkansas (+4).
There is one seat Republicans seem likely to pick up: Iowa (+5).
There are a number of races that are very close — some closer than others — that would be potential Republican pickups: Colorado, Louisiana, Alaska, New Hampshire, and North Carolina.
The one thing that could trip up Republicans on Tuesday night: losing Kansas (-1) or losing Georgia (-2).
For example, if Republicans lose Kansas, they'll need to pick up seven seats. If they lose Kansas and Georgia, they'll need to pick up eight.
The bottom line: Republicans need to pick up at least six seats to win control of the Senate. They have 10 opportunities to win seats — and they have two opportunities to lose seats.