11pm: Reps. Ed Perlmutter, Jim Himes and Chris Murphy survive in CO-7, CT-4 and CT-5 - all of them good saves for Democrats. The party is headed towards gigantic House losses, so it’s hard to believe things could have been worse. But it could have.
11pm: Rep. John Hall and Rep. Michael Arcuri are the latest Democrats to lose, in NY-19 and NY-24. Two very tough losses for the party - especially Arcuri, who looked to be doing better than some of his colleagues. Democrats also lost NY-29, which was expected. Democrats are also on their way to losing many other seats in the state. That’s relatively surprising because they just scored a major victory in a statewide race: Eric Schneiderman will be the state’s next Attorney General, a big win not only for Democrats but for progressives.
11:55pm: Rep. Carol Shea-Porter has lost her re-election race in NH-1, four years after winning it in the most stunning of upsets. She also pulled a comeback in 2008, but this unconventional politician couldn’t pull off three in a row. Democrats are also down in NH-2, but they haven’t lost all hope yet. Democrats did win a key race in Massachusetts, however: Republicans were very hopeful about open MA-10, but Democrats ended up keeping that seat.
11:50pm: Two hugs wins for Republicans as Pat Toomey wins Pennsylvania’s Senate race and John Kasich wins Ohio’s gubernatorial race. Both men were slight favorites going into Election Day, but early returns had made Democrats hopeful. I don’t need to tell you why these races are important. Toomey is the 5th Republican pick-up in the Senate.
11:45pm: Allen West picks-up FL-22. I realize this had been a toss-up for months, but given his background his victory is one of the most stunning of the cycle. In better news for Democrats, Rep. Tim Walz has survived what may be one of his toughest re-election battles.
11:40pm: The tough losses keep accumulating for Democrats. Losing Ike Skelton in MO-4, for instance, is brutal - and yet another huge pick-up for the GOP. Another major result occurred in MS-4, where longtime Rep. Gene Taylor lost his re-election race. Few would have expected this to be possible as of September. This means that some of the most conservative House Democrats have gone down (Taylor, Marshall, Boyd, Childers).
11:35pm: Another state that is remaining friendly to Democrats is Oregon, where all incumbents are leading at the moment. In fact, Kurt Schrader has been called the winner in OR-5, which looked like the weakest Democratic seat. SUSA even had him trailing by 10% two weeks ago.
11:30pm: Democrats keep all of their Iowa House seats, namely IA-1, IA-2 and IA-3. The GOP was particularly optimistic about IA-2, but had also spent a lot of money at Rep. Braley in IA-1; and Rep. Boswell in IA-3 is always an underperformer, so this is good for Democrats. However, Republican Terry Branstad will be the state’s next Governor.
11:25pm: As you would expect, the GOP wave is extending down-ballot. It’s hard to know where to turn given how much bad news is accumulating for Democrats at this point, but here are a few major developments: (1) the Michigan House switched to the GOP despite the fact that Democrats had a 67-43 lead going in. (2) All three Iowa Justices who were up for retention are currently trailing. (3) Republicans won Ohio’s race for Secretary of State, a key contest. A bright spot for Democrats: Amendments 5 and 6 are above 60% at the moment in Florida, which could mean that redistricting is taken out of the GOP’s hand.
11:15pm: The California respite aside, the Republican tsunami continues: Open AR-2 has been called for the GOP, as has OH-1, where Rep. Steve Driehaus lost re-election. But here’s a big disappointment for Democrats: Bill Foster lost his re-election race in IL-14. Speaking of Illinois, Alexi Giannoulias’s early lead has evaporated as the Democrat now trails by 2% against Mark Kirk in the Senate race with 84% reporting; but Pat Quinn is still hanging on. Democrats should take what they get at this point.
11:10pm: Barbara Boxer and Jerry Brown have won crucial victories in California, in two races that should go a long way towards comforting depressed Democrats. This means Democrats will keep control of the U.S. Senate, no matter what happens in every still-uncalled race. In races I did not mention earlier because there were absolutely not competitive, Senators Ron Wyden and David Vitter won re-election in Oregon and Louisiana.
10:57pm: RI-1, ME-1, ME-2 and CT-4: Here are some crucial saves for Democrats. David Cicilline saves himself in RI-1 and becomes the fourth openly gay politician elected to Congress; last-minute polls showed a tightening race. Rep. Jim Himes wins re-election in CT-4. And both of Maine’s incumbents held on, key saves given Democrats had grown very worried in the last two weeks.
10:53pm: The situation is growing very critical for House Democrats: Reps. Patrick Murphy (PA-8), John Spratt (SC-5), Zach Space (OH-18) and Boccieri (OH-16) are all ousted. OH-16 was expected, but the first three were toss-up races - the type of races Democrats are losing massively. Patrick Murphy was considered a rising Democratic star, and Spratt is a longtime veteran. Just tough losses. At least Democrats are saving those seats they need to win to avoid a 85+-seat debacle; places like MO-5 and PA-17
10:50pm: Democrats were growing optimistic about the Senate, but they might have been smiling too soon. Alexi Giannoulias and Joe Sestak are narrowly trailing in two crucial races, albeit narrowly. The situation remains unclear in Colorado, while Michael Bennet leads by 5% in Colorado with 44% reporting.
10:42pm: Another tough loss for Democrats is Rep. Earl Pomeroy, this one in ND-AL. But the party scored a pick-up in heavily Democratic LA-02. Rep. Cao’s short tenure is over, as had been expected within an hour of his 2008 shocker.
10:37pm: Did I say Illinois and Ohio were rough for Democrats? Just look at Pennsylvania. I already said PA-10 and PA-11 have been called for the GOP, and so has PA-3 at this point. Republicans are also ahead in PA-8 and PA-7, and are trailing by just 2% in PA-4 and PA-12. Could they lose seven seats in the state? And while Joe Sestak is performing surprisingly well, he is now up by 7,000 votes with 75% votes reporting.
10:35pm: Three House incumbents just went down in key districts Dems were hoping to win: Travis Childrers out in MS-1, Frank Kravotil out in MD-1, and Carney in PA-10. The worst news of the three is the latter, as Democrats were hoping Carney could hold on and public polls had shown a dead heat. MS-1 and MD-1 are less surprising, but Democrats spent a fair amount of money in both. The night is rough for Democrats.
10:30pm: Nikki Haley and John Hickenlooper will be next Governors of South Carolina and Colorado. Two key holds for Republicans and Democrats, respectively. Democrats had grown hopeful about South Carolina, and Republicans about Colorado. But the dynamics of each race were just too tough for Shaheen in SC and Tancredo in CO.
10:28pm: Ohio and Illinois are a disaster zone for House Democrats. They are trailing in OH-1, OH-06, OH-15, OH-16 and OH-18; and in IL-10, IL-11, IL-14 and IL-17. Just brutal. At least, Democrats defended OH-13, which they were once worried about, but Dan Seals’s deficit in IL-10 is just stunning. If he goes down, can Democrats stop nominating him to this seat? This would be his third consecutive defeat. These two states alone could mean huge losses for House Democrats.
10:23pm: Rep. McIntyre survives in NC-7, a rare Republicans had grown increasingly interested in. That leaves NC-2 as the sole seat Republicans could pick-up in the state, and Bob Etheridge has pulled ahead after trailing; the race remains very tight, however. I would not have expected NC-2 to be the tightest district in the state. Another Democratic save: Rep. Rush Holt in NJ-12.
10:20pm: The night is not going well for Blue Dogs, as one of the House’s most conservative members (Rep. Jim Marshall of GA-8) lost his re-election race. The race had shifted to “lean GOP” in the final stretch, but this is still a big get for Republicans. More worrisome for Democrats is GA-2, where Rep. Bishop is losing by 10% with two-thirds of the vote reporting.
10:15pm: Senator Russ Feingold has lost his re-election race in Wisconsin. That sentence would have been shocking 5 months ago, but came to be expected in October. In any case, it now puts Republicans at +4 in the Senate - but it remains to be seen how much higher they can go, with exit polls showing small (very small) Democratic edges in Colorado and Nevada, and with Giannoulias and Sestak running very competitively in Illinois and Pennsylvania.
10:10pm: Win one, lose one. Rep. Paul Kanjorski loses his seat in PA-11, but Rep. Larry Kissell survives in NC-8. But so much for my repeating that North Carolina is going comparatively well for Democrats: Republicans unexpectedly picked-up BOTH chambers of the state legislature - a 120-year first! That’s big.
10:05pm: The next Pennsylvania Governor will be a Republican, as the race is called for Tom Corbett. He managed to run ahead through the year, a big achievement considering Pennsylvania is a tough state for the GOP - as we’re seeing in the Senate race, which is amazingly close.
10pm: MI-1, which had been left open by Bart Stupak, was called for Republicans. A tough loss for Democrats, who had grown hopeful they could save the day in this district after a series of polls showed Republican Dan Benishek failing to pull ahead. In two races we’ve been following for hours, Rep. Chandler and Rep. Donnolly are holding on by about 1000 votes with 98% and 99% reporting; no call yet.
9:55pm: I forgot to point it earlier considering how unsuspenseful the race has gotten, but Andrew Cuomo will be the next New York Governor. Carl Paladino didn’t pull off another shocker.
9:50pm: A major relief for Democrats as Deval Patrick won re-election in Massachussetts. He held a consistent lead for months, but a very narrow one. Also: Martha Coakley won re-election as Attorney General, remember her? In fact, Massachusetts as a whole is going well for Democrats. Despite fear they’ll suffer upsets left and right, all their incumbents are now comfortably ahead. MA-10 remains close, but the Democratic candidate is up 47% to 42% with nearly half reporting.
9:45pm: Rep. Heath Shuler wins re-election in NC-11, confirming that this is one state in which Democrats are saving face. In KY-6, 98% is now counted - and Rep. Chandler is up by less than 1000 votes. Another Democratic save: IL-12, which has been called for Rep. Costello.
9:40pm: Rep. Lincoln Davis loses in TN-4, a very tough loss for Democrats considering they were not worried about this race until a few weeks ago. Another tough news for Democrats: Dan Seals is trailing by 4% in IL-10 with 80% of the votes reporting.
9:35pm: Gerry Connolly has pulled narrowly ahead in VA-11, a race Democrats really should want to win at this point given their losses elsewhere in Virginia. On the other hand, the key open seat PA-7 is looking good for Republicans.
9:25pm: Another Democratic loser is Rep. Boyd in FL-2. Democrats thought they’d win this seat back in the spring, but FL-2 had moved to the lean Republican column this fall; he was the sole Democrat to support Bush’s Social Security reform back in 2005, so this is mostly a hit for the Blue Dog Coalition. But here’s a great hold for Democrats in general and progressives in particular: Barney Frank survives in MA-4!
9:20pm: Gerry Connolly could still save himself in VA-11, as he has pulled within 200 votes despite Fairfax County underreporting. Things are going terribly for Rep. Shea-Porter in NH-1, however: She’s down 16% with 20% of the vote in; that’s not a big surprise, as Democrats had moved their hopes to defending NH-2, where it’s currently a 2% race.
9:15pm: Maryland Governor O’Malley has won re-election, a race that Democrats were once worried about. Ohio has become very interesting: Ted Strickland is leading by 1,200 votes with 30% of precincts reporting! In Florida, things are looking very tough for Democrats in what would be a crushing defeat: Rick Scott leads by 5% with more than half of votes reporting.
9:05pm: Glenn Nye loses re-election in VA-2, which means Democrats have now lost three seats in that state. All they can now hope for is to survive in VA-11. Also, Rep. Sutton is now ahead in OH-13, which is a relief for Democrats considering they had given up worrying on the race once the Republican had been hit by sexual harassment suits. Interestingly, the party is holding on in North Carolina: All Democratic incumbents are currently holding, though Reps. Shuler and Etheridge’s leads are tight.
9pm: Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer win re-election in New York. No surprise, but once upon a time Democrats were worried about Gillibrand’s chances. Another interesting race we’re keeping track on: Rep. Chandler is holding on by 1,000 votes in KY-6 with 95% reporting.
8:57pm: Another tough loss for Democrats is VA-5, where Tom Perriello loses his seat to Robert Hurt. The seat was long rated “lean Republican,” but Democrats had been increasingly optimistic about their chances. Republicans are also looking in great shape in VA-2 and are leading in VA-11. A very rough night for Virginia Democrats.
8:55pm: A big loss for Democrats, as Rep. Baron Hill goes down in IN-9. The seat was pretty much the definition of a toss-up going into Election Day.
8:50pm: Believe it or not, but Rep. David Price is narrowly trailing in NC-4. He should win since Durham County has barely reported, but his big deficit in Wake County is a big warning sign for Democrats. Interestingly, the party is doing well in most other state districts: Incumbents are leading in NC-2, NC-7 and NC-8 at the moment.
8:45pm: Alan Grayson has lost his seat in FL-8, an important pick-up for the GOP albeit one that had come to be expected in the final weeks. Two very tight races right now are WV-1 and NC-11, with the Democratic candidates narrowly trailing at the moment.
8:33pm: Big, big, big save for Democrats: Joe Manchin wins West Virginia’s Senate seat and most probably ensures Democrats hold the Senate. Two other calls form Southern states: Blanche Lincoln loses her seat in Arkansas (as expected) and Richard Burr wins re-election in North Carolina.
West Virginia was one of four key Senate battlegrounds throughout October, and there was a point in September at which John Raese looked to be inching decisively away; but Manchin’s victory means Republicans need to win Washington and California to get the Senate - and that looks unlikely, to say the least.
8:28pm: A huge victory for the GOP in VA-9, where Rep. Boucher fell. This is the first semi-surprise of the night, and the clearest sign yet that this will be a rough night for Democrats.
8:25pm: Connecticut’s Senate race called for Dick Blumenthal. This is no surprise, but still a relief for Democrats to avoid a bad surprise here.
8:22pm: The GOP scores its first pick-up as FL-24 is called for Sandy Adams. I had rated the race “likely Republican” and this was one of the first districts to look like a GOP pick-up this fall, so no surprise for now. Meanwhile in KY-6, Chandler’s lead has shrank to just 500 votes…
8:20pm: Contradictory signs out of Ohio. On the one hand, Ted Strickland is competitive; he leads by 4% with about 10% of precincts reporting. But Democrats are facing the prospect of heavy losses at the House level: It might still be early, but Rep. Sutton is trailing for now against Tom Ganley, the Republican who had been hit by two sexual harassment suits… Not the type of district Democrats want to be worrying about tonight. Democrats also trail in OH-1, OH-16 and OH-18.
8:08pm: Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly is now ahead in IN-2 as his counties start reporting; but KY-6 has tightened with Ben Chandler now leading by just 2% in KY-6 with 71% reporting. Virginia still looks rough for Democrats, with Rep. Boucher trailing by 6% and not performing at the level he needs to be. Another interesting House result: With nearly a third of votes reporting, high-profile Democratic Rep. Allan Grayson trails by a massive 20% in FL-8. In crucial FL-22, Allen West leads by 10% among early votes - a worrisome sign for Democrats.
8:05pm: Two races go Democrats’ way: Governor Lynch survives in New Hampshire and John Carney picks-up the GOP-held DE-AL. The party was favored in both, but they were growing worried about Lynch’s situation in NH as some polls had found a tightening race.
8pm: Major Senate calls in Florida, New Hampshire and Delaware - albeit none of them surprising: Marco Rubio, Kelly Ayotte and Chris Coons will be joining the Senate. The first two races were once expected to be highly competitive but the GOP put them away months ago; and Delaware was a sure loss until O’Donnell’s September primary victory.
7:55pm: With 54,000 votes already counted in NC-4, Rep. David Price trails by 33 votes in NC-4; that’s Durham, in absolutely no way a district Democrats can afford to be competitive. Another worrisome sign for Democrats: Rep. Gerry Connolly’s numbers in VA-11.
7:50pm: The GOP is hoping for a Virginia sweep - VA-2, VA-5, VA-9 and VA-11. That would sure be rough for Democrats, and at the moment Republican nominees are ahead in each district. It’s very early in VA-11, however, and Virginia Tech’s Montgomery County has yet to report anything.
7:45pm: Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth wins re-election - and the first call in a seat I had on my chart goes Democrats’ way. Sure, KY-3 was rated “likely Democratic” but a number of polls had shown the race within the margin of error.
7:43pm: Virginia returns are looking tough for Democrats, with Tom Perriello trailing by 14% (17% reporting) while Rick Boucher is trailing by 6% in VA-9, which Democrats were optimistic about until a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur wins re-election in OH-9: this is the district where the GOP candidate drew attention for wearing Nazi uniforms.
7:40pm: Ohio’s Senate race is called for Rob Portman, a hold for the GOP. A few months ago, that would have been considered big news but Lee Fisher’s chances had collapsed so low over the past three months that the Democrat transferred his money to the state party!
7:36pm: Kentucky’s two endangered Democrats are continuing to survive, with Rep. Chandler up more than 6% with 58% reporting and Rep. Yarmuth slowly inching upward in KY-3 (he now leads by 7% with 20% reporting). Indiana looks more problematic for the party, with Rep. Donnelly trailing big but the counties he needs haven’t started reporting yet; Rep. Hill is also down in IN-9.
7:35pm: CNN’s exit polls bring two more pieces of good news for Democrats. Joe Manchin leads by 7% in West Virginia while Ted Strickland is up 3% in Ohio’s gubernatorial race. At the very least, that suggests the latter race will be competitive - something that wasn’t entirely clear going in.
7:30pm: A lot of votes have already been counted in Florida - which means a big dump of early votes that were taken care of fast - and the news is good for now for the GOP: Rick Scott leads 53% to 47%, which is already a 50,000 vote difference. But the batch seems to be from GOP territory since Marco Rubio’s 53% seems very high.
7:25pm: The exit polls are a bit more reliable now that they are posted on CNN’s website, and here’s an early surprise: The exit poll has Niki Haley up just 3% in South Carolina. Final result should obviously be different, but the DGA might come to regret not having played here.
7:20pm: The first House seat has been called for Democrats! Unfortunately for them, it’s not a competitive one: Rep. Welch holds on in VT-AL.
7:10pm: Eyes are already shifting away from Indiana and Kentucky, with Virginia and Florida now counting ballots. But let’s look at IN-2: Rep. Donnelly trails by a daunting 19% with 7% reported, but that doesn’t mean much since the district’s two Democratic counties haven’t started reporting at all while Donnelly isn’t underperforming compared to where he needs to be in the three counties that have reported votes. Another district attracting early attention is KY-6, where Rep. Ben Chandler is up by 8% with 22% of precincts reporting.
7pm: Polls are now closed in a new batch of states - and we have two more Senate calls: Pat Leahy and Jim DeMint will be returning to the Senate. Absolutely no surprise there. Also, Democrats are perhaps a tiny bit more optimistic they’ll be able to avoid cataclysmic losses (at least in the Senate) than they were an hour ago as exit polls have them doing slightly better than expected. Relatedly, Marc Ambinder tweets that the Illinois exit (the worst of the bunch for Democrats) is not credible and that South Carolina’s gubernatorial race looks tighter than expected.
6:55pm: Rand Paul has been called the winner in Kentucky’s Senate race. And Dan Coats has been called the winner in Indiana’s Senate race - the first congressional pick-up of the night. +1 GOP. While neither call is surprising, it’s worth remembering that at the start of 2010, Indiana was on no one’s list of vulnerable Senate seats; and until mid-October, Democrats had high hopes of beating Rand Paul, whose primary victory had plunged Republican officials in consternation back in the spring.
6:40pm: I cannot emphasize just how much salts you should use when looking at these (2004 early exits had John Kerry cruising towards the White House, 2008 early exits had Al Franken winning in a blow-out), but here are the early Senate exit polls. Democrats have a clear lead in West Virginia, California, Washington; Bennet is up 2% in CO; NV is tied; and Kirk leads in IL. Again, take this with as much salt as is possible - especially for Western states where polls will be open for hours - I’m posting it as an indication of what might be setting the mood at campaign headquarters.
6:30pm: The first three calls of the night: Republican Reps. Burton, Pearce and Rogers have been re-elected to IN-5, IN-6 and KY-5. No surprise there. Of the races I’ve mentioned, IN-8 has counted the most ballots - but we’re still only at 4% of precincts reporting; Republican Bucshon leads 51% to 43%. And Rep. Joe Donnelly trails by a nearly 2:1 margin in IN-2 with 3% reporting; I’m not yet able to figure out where the votes are coming from.
6:15pm: As you might expect, the first 15 minutes on an Election Night aren’t its most thrilling. Votes are starting to come in from both states, but nothing particularly meaningful just yet. A reminder as to what we’re looking at in those two states. Democrats are more than resigned to losing IN-8; IN-9 and KY-6 are the key battlegrounds; the GOP is also hoping to pick-up IN-2, which would signal a very good night for Republicans; and a Democratic loss in KY-3 would be the sign of impending doom.
6pm: Here we go! The polls have just closed in most of Kentucky and Indiana, home to two Senate races that were once expected to be competitive and 5 key House races.
Election Days are hard to get through. Weeks of campaigning come to a halt and we get bombarded misleading and contradictory anecdotal tidbits regarding turnout. But we’re about to finally close the book on this election cycle: the first polls will close in less than an hour.
Democrats should buckle up their seat belt as it might be a very rough night. But Republicans shouldn’t start celebrating just yet given the unusually high level of uncertainty. While we wait, you can review my final analysis of the gubernatorial and congressional landscapes, my take on important down-ballot races, and my cheat sheet of what to watch for tonight.