Election Day Live Blog – 2018



tired good night GIF

*12:42 – I’m fading fast. Was hoping to get more concrete information on WI governor’s race and AZ Senate before calling it a night, but I might not be able to hold off.

If you stick around, look at those two, the NV Senate race and the CA Houses. Be warned CA House races often take days to finalize, so you might not get anything tonight.

A million thanks to everyone who glanced at this a bit. No matter what, we stumbling through hour after of grueling democracy tonight.  Cheers!

*12:36pm – Citizens in Idaho, Utah, and Nebraska have voted to approve Medicaid expansion in their states (while simultaneously voting for elected officials who oppose said expansion).

*12:33pm – World’s worst congressman Steve King hangs on. Shucks. Maybe next time.

*12:17pm – Ds flipped control of 5 GOP-held state chambers: – NH House – NH Senate – MN House – NY Senate – CO Senate

*12:12pm – WI governor is basically a tie now. Some looking at the few outstanding votes believe Walker has a teeny tiny edge. Ugh.

*12:05pm – Right now the NYT Upshot projects a D gain of +34 seats. FiveThirtyEight currently has the same projection as +34.

Here are the predictions I posted at 1pm this afternoon:

FiveThirtyEight: D+39

Crystal Ball: D+34

RealClearPolitics: D+27

Decision Desk HQ: D+38

*12:03pm – A Senate update. The FL race has technically not been called, because there is an outside chance of Nelson (D) sneak in and crosses Scott (R), though unlikely. AZ is very very tight. NV is the remaining open seat where Ds are hoping to stop the bleeding. Best case for Ds, realistically, they win AZ and NV and Rs only gain 2. That will have big implications for 2020, and their potential to re-take the Senate when the map is more in their favor and they have a turnout boost with the Presidential election.

*11:55pm – There will be a lot of analysis later, but there have been D gains in many statehouse races. The NY state Senate flipped to D Control. The NH State and House both flipped to Ds.

*11:49pm – As I browse social media tonight the main takeaway I’m seeing is that almost everyone, of all political persuasions, is upset at something. Both sides seem to be a bit bummed. Fitting, considering the state of our divided nation. But still feels odd.

*11:45pm – 67% of the vote in and Steve King has inched ahead in IA-4. Groan.

*11:45pm – 80% of the vote in, and its basically a tie in the WI governor’s race.

*11:39pm – FiveThirtyEight currently pegs the Ds as gaining 33 seats in the House. But I think that final number could be anywhere from 30-40.

*11:34pm – From what I’m seeing, the best guesses are that the Ds will have won the overall House vote by about 9%. The FiveThirtyEight final on the generic ballot was, I think 8.7%

*11:28pm – It will take a long time to parse through all the details tonight. But there will be a lot of random changes that cumulatively will have a big impact in future races (2020). These won’t make headlines today, but they are an improvement from yesterday. For example,


*11:23pm – With 47.8% of the vote in, the world’s worst congressman, Steve King, is currently trailing JD Scholten 51.5%-46%. I’ve heard that the outstanding vote is still favorable to King, so he’ll likely pull it out. But considering the ruby red nature of this district, it’s encouraging that it’s even an open question.

*11:18pm – Implications:


*11:14pm – Rodney Davis has inched back again in his central IL district. He’s up by 2% with 91% in. It looks like he’ll hold on. The CU students gave it a good run, but doesn’t look like it will be enough in this district.

11:11pm – This is going to be an odd one, I think, with both sides tomorrow thinking that things weren’t so bad.

Some Ds may be disappointed that it wasn’t as big a sweep. But, overall there will be a split in Congress and the Ds will have made gain in Governorships and statehouses. They’re in a much better place that they were in before. The Rs will like their jump in the Senate and holding on to some big governor’s races.

*11:03pm – With 67% of the vote in, two time incumbent govenor Scott Walker (R) of Wisconsin is down by 1.7%

*10:55pm – McCaskill (D) looks to be in trouble in MO. She’s down big with 64% in. There is an outside chance that all the outstanding votes can help her, but it’s a longshot at this point. The Rs could be poised to pick up 4-5 Senate seats in the end. Ds will hope to slow the damage by squeaking out a win in AZ and NV.

*10:51pm – Interestingly, most ballot measures that I’m looking at are set to pass: minimum wage increase, marijuana legalization, felony voting rights restoration. All of these are policies mostly supported by Ds, interestingly enough.

These types of D policies are typically more popular among the electorate, but the tribal nature of partisianship means many voters oddly voted FOR Medicaid expansion, legal marijuana, and then the R candidate (who doesn’t support those things).

*10:48pm – David Brat (R) the incumbent Tea Partier who always got under my skin looks to have lost his race in his central Virginia district. Well done folks.

*10:44pm – Yesterday I mention that there was some speculation about whether the best chances for D pickups were Romney-Clinton districts (suburbs) or Obama-Trump district (union blue areas). Tonight that has been very definitely answered. Ds are doing very well in all districts that Clinton won. They are winning less in rural areas that Obama once won. This is more another reminder that the parties are very much re-aligning. These are going to be trends that will stick with us for awhile. Republicans are going to have a hard time winning anywhere in the suburbs for the foreseeable future, and vice versa for Dems in rural areas.

10:43pm – 60% of the vote in Wisconsin, the D, Evers is beating Scott Walker by 1.5%

*10:38pm – 55% of the vote in, and the R, McSally has taken the lead in AZ Senate by 1%

*10:35pm – All of these wins will have big ramifications down the road, i.e.


*10:31pm – Beto will lose TX, but he certainly made a decent race of it, something that not many would have predicted possible in Texas. In fact, many talking heads guessed that his best path may be to lose, by a little, and then position himself for a presidential run in 2020. It would be harder for him to do that if he had one. But he’s clearly the biggest political celebrity to emerge this cycle.

*10:30pm – The Rs will control the Senate, as expected. But not they are trying to keep the total seats closer. A big part of that is AZ. With 53% of the vote in, Sinema (D) is leading McSally by .5%. Razor close.

*10:27pm – We don’t have any real results yet in Iowa-4 (awful Steve King’s district). Considering how the night is going, I’d bet he holds on comfortably. But there is still time to dream.

*10:25pm – Perhaps the biggest upset of the night so far, a D is looking like she might wein Oklahoma-5. Up by 1.5% with 90% in. This reace was not on the radar, labeled a Likely R.

*10:22pm – They haven’t been called yet, but the Ds are holding on in VA. That means of the 4 potential flips to the Ds in the state, they could be looking at getting 3 of them. Before the day started, they would have been happy with that, I think.

*10:18pm – In Illinois, it looks like all of the vulnerable Rs are currently behind (except Bost in So. IL, but he seemed in a strong position from the start). Even the central IL district that is home to the University of IL may finally have enough power to swing the seat to the Ds. (When I was student there, it wasn’t ever that competitive).

*10:16pm – Potential surprise in a red Oklahoma, OK-5. With 80% in, the D, Kendra Horn is up by a few thousand votes. This is a district that Trump won by 14 points. It would be an unexpected flip to the Ds.

*10:13pm – In the two razor tight races still not called in Virginia. It looks like Luria (D) and SPangberger (D) are both ever so slightly still ahead of their R incumbents. A few thousand votes each with about 96% of the vote in. Both of these would be flips.

*10:11pm – Also, while making a good run at it, Beto is going to fall a little short in TX

*10:11pm – Not a surprise, but Heitkamp (D) will lose in ND. She was was most at risk D of the cycle.

*10:08pm – FiveThirtyEight now gives the Ds a 99.9% chance of taking control of the House.

*10:05pm – Winchester folks. If you haven’t seen, it looks like Ds are set to win 2 of the 3 City Council races. Herbstritt won handily in Ward 3, and Judy McKiernan (in a surprise to me), looks to have won in Ward 4 by 3 votes. 3 votes! This will flip the City Council from 6-2 R majority to a 4-4 tie with the tiebreaking vote to D mayor David Smith.

*10:01pm – With 33% of the vote in in Kansas (red Kansas), Kelly (D) is up by 12%. If Kelly takes this race by any amount, it should be considered a solid win.

*9:59pm – Still a lot of important/close races left. The Governor’s race in WI is neck and neck. The Ds would love to take out long-time incumbent Scott Walker. They Ds look to take the governorship in MI as well. These will be critical for a 2020 Presidential race.

*9:56pm – The D pick up seats are now coming in, too many to keep track of, but they’ll continue as vote total inch up. Upwards of 9+ flips could happen in CA alone.

*9:50pm – Incumbent R in FL, Curbelo conceded. This was a race that the Rs thought they might keep because of Curbelo’s unique connection but the D trend in the area was too much.

*9:46pm – Should not underestimate the Democrats likely flipping the House tonight. Even if its close, by a few seats, this has HUGE ramifications for the policies that can/cannot be passed in the next two years.

These results are showing that 2020 will be a dogfight. BUT, as in 2016,the popular vote is still tilting a bit toward the Ds. That is why we are making gains here (not as big as dreamed, but likely enough). There will be gains in Governor’s races as well, and some lower ballot races.

If the current trends hold, this is decent progress for the Ds. Far from a sweep, but not a repeat of 2016.

*9:43pm – Still a lot of races left, BUT most networks believe that the Democrats will take control of the House when this is over.

*9:35pm – IL folks, there are still several seats where Ds are ahead in the state with potential flips. Incumbent Rs Roskam, Hultren, and Davis are currently all trailing to their D challengers.

*9:32pm – Something that will be HUGE in 2020 presidential race: Florida is going to restore voting rights to 1.4 million citizens. Consider how razor thin these FL races are (and have been for years). This could tip the balance. It may be frustrating to see the Rs squeak this out this time, BUT this could be the last gasp for awhile.

*9:28pm – You are probably watching this, but with 70% in, O’Rourke is still up in TX. Thought I don’t think he pulls it out.

*9:25pm – This is one of those elections that can be infuriating or encouraging, depending on where you look. At this exact moment, it is still better than 50% odds that Ds flip enough seats to take the House. Far from certain, but it’s about 55%.

*9:21pm – Two more seats in VA have the chance to flip. Razor thin, but Luria (R) is up by 1.5% with 91% in (Eastern Shore/VA Beach); Spangburger is up by .2% (550 votes) with 92% in. Fingers crossed.

*9:19pm – News in suburban races out west seem to be solid for Ds. Incumbent Coffman (R) looks be be in touble in CO.

*9:14pm – Right now there is widespread concern about the results so far. I know a lot of us have the ache in the gut. BUT, what we’re seeing right now, mostly, is that R voters in 2016 are still mostly R voters in 2018.

No matter what, we remain a very very divided nation, nearly right in half. For all the prognostications, this is to be expected.

All eyes should be on whether or not the Ds can get to 23 House flips. It would be wonderful if they do, to help with the accountability over the next two years. But it all hinges on a handful of races that themselves will be decided by 1-2% points.

*9:10pm – Manchin (D) will keep seat in deep red WV, however. He’s a saavy one.

*9:09pm – Blackburn (R) already called as winner in TN. Following the trend. Rs are going to pick up a few Senate seats tonight I guess. At least 2, probably 3, maybe 4.

*9:03pm – Elections are exhausting. Oy. Overall, the trend tonight is turnout up everywhere and voters from both parties showed up in larger amounts. This is leading to Rs doing well in red states, and winning most close electsins in red districts. Ds are flipping seats that have trended blue in recent years, but the big question now is will it be enough to flip the 23 seats to take the house. That’s really up in the air right now.

*8:55pm – Also, another VA race, VA-2, Lurie (D) is ahead of Taylor (R) by less than 1% with 87% in.

*8:53pm – In VA-7, Spanberger (D) ahead of Brat by a few thousand votes with 93% in. This would be a very nice D win if she can hang on.

*8:51pm – At this point, you’d rather be the Rs in FL as Rich Scott (R) and Ron DeSantis (R) are up with 93% in

*8:49pm – All eyes on Florida. The Rs may squeak out wins there, which would be disappoint, but in line with Rs continuing to win in very close races.

*8:48pm – Rs get a Senate flip, as Braun (R) will beat Donnelly in IN

*8:42pm – TX is on the board, and Beto is ahead with what is in so far. Do I think that will hold? No. But is there an outside chance it does? Yes.

*8:40pm – In Florida, the ballot measure to restore voting rights to those convicted of felonies after serving their sentence looks to be passing. Good news so far.

*8:39pm – Damn. It looks like Amy McGrath (D) is going to fall a little short in KY-6.

*8:36pm – In a small ray of light, there was a loss for Kim Davis, the high-profile clerk of the small KY county that rose to prominence by refusing to follow the law and give gay couples marriage rights.

*8:33pm – So much is going on right now, so it’s hard to keep it straight.  FL, as always is closer than the polls suggested.

*8:29pm – Incumbent Sessions in TX (R) looks like he’s going to lose. Ds needed to win this one to keep this House chances alive.

*8:25pm – Overall, I’d say these results indicate that Ds are doing as expected and making strong in suburban areas. But Rs are also extra strong in many rural areas.  I think right now, if I was going to guess, I’m thinking Rs gain 2-3 seats in Senate, Ds end up in upper 20s of seats flipped in House. But that’s just a gut reaction. I hope Ds make up some margins.

*8:21pm – The Rs are ahead in both the FL Senate and Governor’s races. BUT, with the outstanding vote locations, the Ds have a reasonable chance of making up the difference in the finally 10%. But it’s no blowout.

*8:19pm – This may turn out to be a rough night for Ds in Senate. We dont’ know yet, but some exit poll results in AZ are not great fro Sinema (D) in Senate. This is a seat that Ds really wanted to flip. But that’s just exit polls, so who knows once the votes start rolling in.

*8:15pm – Winchester folks. Kim Herbstritt (D) has beaten Milt McInturff handily (59%-40%). Bill Wiley (R) will beat Teri Merrill 55%-44%).

Taylor (R) vs. McKiernan is nearly tied with 1/2 precincts in.

*8:12pm – Illinois, the Governor’s race is already called for Pritzker (D)

*8:11pm – Rs have a boost here, as Nelson and DeSantis (R) have taken the lead in FL. 85% reporting. It’ll all be Miami-Dade and Broward Co.

*8:08pm – Now the FL races are nearly tied. Eeek. It’s going to come down to the last precincts now.

*8:07pm – FL races are tightening. Ds ahead (Gillum and Nelson), but it’s not over. 82% of votes in.

*8:01pm – Neck and neck in key VA-7 race. 51% in, Spanberger (D) ahead by 1% over incumbent Brat (R)

*8:00pm – The GOP will hold onto a stretch race for D in Virginia. Riggleman (R) is going to beat Leslie Cockburn (D) (Olivia Wilde’s mother) in VA-5.

*7:58pm – For Winchester folks, a few city precincts are in. Right now, it looks like Bill Wiley is in good shape to get re-elected in Wars 1. But Kim Herbstritt is ahead over Milt McInturuff in Ward 3. No results yet in Ward 4. In my predictions earlier, I had Herbstritt as the only D who would probably win.

*7:56pm – Barr takes the lead back from McGrath in KY-6

*7:54pm – Ds looks good so far in their House races. Rs look good in IN Senate. The IN Senate results may mean that other red states could be OK for Rs? (MO, MT, ND).

*7:53pm – Ultra tight in KY-6. Two thirds of the vote in, and McGrath (D) now up by a small 3,000 votes (2.4% lead).

*7:46pm – The other swing VA districts are very close. 37% in and Brat (R) is basically tied with Spanberger (D) in VA-7. Ds were not really planning to have a realistic shot at this one.

*7:42pm – It’s called. Wexton beats Comstock in VA-10. Hoooray. This is my district. Right now she is up by a commanding 16%.

*7:41pm – Now that results are flying in. The gut reaction so far, very solid news for Ds in a lot of House races and FL.  Rs have to like their chances in IN, but that’s been their only bright spot so far.

*7:40pm – 49% of vote in KY-6 — McGrath (D) up 3% (51.4-47.4)

*7:39pm – Early OH exit poll results, if extrapolated point to a 1.5% win in the Governor’s race for Cordray (D) over DeWine (R).

*7:35pm – 50% of vote in VA-10 – Wexton by 57% – 42%. I LOVE this result so far.

*7:33pm – 1/3 of the vote in FL. Ds both look reasonable good there so far. But in all of these races, things can still shift.

*7:32pm – 42% in, McGrath (D) up 47%-52% in that KY-6 district. Come on Amy!

*7:28pm – Shalala (D) looks solid in her southern FL district, FL-27. That was one that Ds needed to win. There was a time when it looked like they might lose it.

*7:22pm – Looks like overall this election will set new records for midterm turnout for young voters (18-29) and non-white voters.

They should help swing some districts, but maybe not others. We shall see…

*7:19pm – Seminole Co. is a bellweather in FL. Trump won it by 2%. Right now Gillum and Nelson are up by 4%

*7:14pm – Early results from FL seem to be decent for the Ds, Gillum and Nelson. Most of this is not based on raw votes but benchmarks on the percentage they are up or down in each area compared to past elections. It’s VERY early, but there is slight optimism in FL.

In IN there is less optimism for D, Donnelly.

*7:08pm – FL results will be very tight ALL night. And in extra close elections it will be fascinating to see if there is much gap between the Nelson (D) running in the Senate and Gillum (D) for Governor. Most analysis think Gillum has a slightly better chance, but they typically run in lockstep.

*7:04pm – The fact that Kaine was called immediately may (or may not) be good news for other Ds in VA.

*7:00pm – Tim Kaine projected to win. Yay!

*6:58pm – Exit polls in VA-10 (my district): 56% think country is headed in wrong direction. 56% said that Trump was the most important factor in their vote.

*6:51pm – Right now: IN looks like a nailbiter. Braun (R) seems to be doing pretty decent. In KY-6, McGrath seems to be looking alright, putting herself in a position to win once the biggest precincts start reporting.

*6:42pm – Here are some comparisons for Braun in IN. To me it looks like he is running similar to Romney in 2012 but behind Trump. Romney did win IN, however. So it seems like Braun is doing well enough to win. The difference will be if Donnelly can make up the difference in areas where Ds do well. It’ll be super close.


*6:35pm – If you are watching IN Senate results, the R challenger Braun will likely be leading most of the night.  If Donnelly is able to hold on, he’ll likely make up the difference in the very last precincts that return polls.

*6:31pm – Exit polls indicate IN is going to be ultra-tight. It’s a tough haul for Donnelly (D), because Trump won the state by 20%.

*6:21pm – Final predictions from the guru in Nevada is that Rs still have a chance to win those races, based on early vote and election day turnout, things are slightly tilting toward Ds.

*6:18pm – Early returns in rural IN are very big for Rs. That’s not surprising, but these races will be decided on whether the total turnout in these rural races keeps up with any growth in IN cities (like Indianapolis and Gary).

*6:16pm – A small dash of cold water. Those early exit numbers may generally seem positive for Ds. BUT what matters in each of these races is how voters are split between districts. It’s great if 100% of voters are upset with Trump in a New York precinct. BUT, that doesn’t necessarily mean the Ds will win these close races in KY and IN and AZ.

Be prepared for a lot of extra tight contests, some losses, and frustration when everything doesn’t seem to come up aces.

The very big picture is what matters most: (1) Taking  the House, (2) Not losing more than 1 or 2 in Senate seats , (3) Winning more Governor’s offices.

This is all about a big step in the right direction, but there will be more to do next time no matter what.


*6:05pm – The first race we’ll see is KY-6. BUT, don’t place overarching emphasis on this race. Trump won this district by 16ish points. Romney won it as well. This is really a stretch district for Ds. If they are close here but losing, that’s still a good sign.

*6:00pm – Please exhale deeply right now. You survived two years of a Trump President with total control of Congress. That may change forever, starting right now. Fingers and toes crossed.

*5:55pm – We’ve waited TWO YEARS. First polls close in 5 minutes!

nervous 30 rock GIF by HULU

*5:51pm – Huge, record breaking turnout in suburban Chicago districts. This would seem to bode well for D challengers in the two competitive House races in the Chicago Suburbs (Hultgren & Roskam).

*5:49pm – Gender gap will be huge this year. 78% of exit poll respondents say it is important to elect more women to elected positions. I’m not sure what to do with that. Obviously it would seem to good for Ds, but I dont’ place a ton of stock in these types of questions for predictability purposes.

*5:46pm – In 2010 exit poll data showed Obama’s favorability as -9%. That year the GOP flipped an astounding 63 seats.

This year, Trump’s  early exit poll favorability is -11%

*5:43pm – Seems like high turnout is always good news for Ds. BUT, one area where turnout may help Rs in FL. That’s one state that is a little odd. And early talk is that Rs are up. High turnout in panhandle is good for Rs. I think Ds might do well, but FL races will be extra tight, even if good news elsewhere.

*5:36pm – Reminder exit polls are still polls (not some official counting of preferences). But they are polls of actual voters, which eliminates all the uncertainty about who will or will not vote.

*5:32pm – Early exits on Party Favorability.

Republicans -11% ; Democrats +4%

*5:29pm – First rumors of KY-6 exit polls say that McGrath is within 1 point of Barr.

*5:26pm – Register in Nashville, TN says that turnout in big precincts is already surpassing 2016 Presidential turnout. That’s very very big for midterm. And would be very postive for D candidate Bredesen who needs big numbers in TN urban centers.

*5:22pm – Exit polls. Top issues: Huge lead for Healthcare. Democrats like that. Rs would def counter with economy numbers. But, Rs haven’t talked about economy much, which is one big reason why the Ds are expected to make gains even though the economy is relatively strong.

*5:17pm – If exit polls of 16% new voters are right, that a big one. Usually in single digits. New voters mean more voters, usually mean better for Ds.

*5:15pm – Remember that these exit polls are rolling. They can change as more information comes in. In past elections, extrapolations from exit polls have been very misleading. Just reading exit polls made early watchers believe that Hillary would win in 2016 and Kerry would win in 2004. Deep breaths.

*5:12pm – Exit polls suggest a slight surge in first time voters (from 2016). We don’t know about their motivation, however. Could feasibly be “pro-Trump” voters, though if I was guessing, I’d say it was the opposite. Anti.

*5:11pm – Exit polling. About 15% say they made their minds up in the last week. 16% said they were first time voters.

*5:10pm – Turnout in one of Ohio counties with most votes, up up up:


*5:07pm – Preliminary exit polls. Trump down 10, 45-55%. Remember these are “polls” but of actual voters. This is positive for Ds. This hints that the turnout surge, if true, is not necessarily because of huge surge of Trump supporters as well.

*5:00pm – First results in. US Territory of Guam just elected its first female Governor

*4:59pm – More news from NV. Signs may point to a good night for Ds (this is a Senate seat that Ds must flip if they have any chance at taking the body)(H/T Dave M):


*4:55pm – In case you are keeping track, three officials are on the ballot with corruption issues:

NY House: Collins (R) was arrested a few months ago on insider trading charges. He initially dropped out of his reelection bid, realized it was too late to drop out, so is now back in. He is favored to win.

CA House: Hunter (R) was arrested for a slew of corruption charges (using his campaign funds like a piggy bank). He claims it is all fake news. He is favored to win.

NJ Senate: Menendez (D) was charged by federal officials for corruption but jury was deadlocked and did not convict. He is favored to win.

*4:50pm – One more note on that KY-6th race (Barr v McGrath). This will be the first one that we look at because polls close early, and here’s specifically where we will be looking:


*4:45pm – A huge question mark each year is youth turnout. To me, it always seems like something that is hoped for but rarely, if ever, materializes. Has Trump woken up younger voters more than before? Some anecdotal accounts today hint at it, but we’ll see:


*4:40pm – The KY-6th race mentioned below (polls closing at 6pm) gained national prominence when the D challenger, Amy McGrath, released her first campaign ad that went viral. You may have seen it. It’s this one:

I’m really pulling for her. She’s a top notch D candidate.

*4:35pm – Those first polls will close in an hour and a half. In case you didn’t thoroughly read that hour by hour link I posted early (slackers), here’s a reminder:

As the first polls close, we’ll start to see results in two districts that could hold clues for how the rest of the night will unfold: the Kentucky 6th and Indiana 9th. The Kentucky 6th is rated as Toss-Up in the Classic version of our model. If Democratic challenger Amy McGrath is able to oust GOP Rep. Andy Barr, it will be an early sign of a Democratic wave.  On the other hand, our model rates the Indiana 9th as Likely Republican, so if Democrat Liz Watson somehow pulls off an upset against Republican Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, it may point to a very long night for Republicans. The 6 p.m. poll-closing hour will also yield early returns in the Indiana U.S. Senate race, a seat that Democrats must hold in order to have any hope of capturing the Senate.

*4:28pm – Fair point?


*4:24pm – VA-10 update. The most vote-heavy area in the Wexton-Comstock race is Fairfax County. Ds want as large a turnout as possible there:


*4:19pm – When we start hearing turnout numbers in individual states and projections for overall turnout, keep these previous midterms rates (nationwide) as a baseline:

2018: ???

2014: 36.7%

2010: 41.8%

2006: 41.3%

2002: 40.5%

*4:07pm – If you want to take a bathroom break, the time is now. Exit polls will come out around 5pm. We’ll draw all kinds of assumptions about those for an hour, until 6pm. That’s when the first polls will close. Then we’ll finally being to draw out the real results.


*3:55pm – The first polls close (most of IN and parts of KY) in a little over two hours. There are many reports of surging voter turnout. That’s something that we hear often, but it’s pretty clear that voters were much more engaged this time around that in the last midterm:


*3:53pm – Here’s a good reminder for what will happen tonight. A wave election in a Presidential year means that we know who will win the Presidency pretty early in the evening. But in a midterm, it means watching a lot of really close races (races that shouldn’t be close but are):

wave election.png

*3:40pm – Virginia Senator (and current candidate) Tim Kaine is best described as America’s Boring Dad. For example, after casting his vote today he went shopping:


*3:29pm – Ben Tribbett (one of the folks I rely on the most for Virginia analysis) is confident of D win in VA-02 based on the turnout he is seeing. This one of those 20 races listed below, and one that FiveThirtyEight had as a lean R. We shall see.

For Virginia folks, this is the Eastern Shore and then places like Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Hampton.


*3:17pm – With up to 115 House races under watch, its overwhelming to focus on the specifics. Here’s one way to narrow it down. Dave Wasserman (from Cook Political Report) shared this chart that lists only those House races where one of the major forecast models disagree with each other.

So this list of 20 races are the true tossups of the tossups:

*3:06pm If things really take a turn for the worst tonight, I’ll likely slowly fade away from the computer. Two year ago, when the 2016 stomachache happened, here was the last post:

“OH just called from Trump. I suspect that FL and NC will be called soon. Once that happens, Trump will be the favorite to win it all. But it won’t be officially over. Deep breaths all. I genuinely DO recommend muting your TV. Nothing they say will make you feel better. I’m going to take a break myself to re-group. Starting at 5:30am was a bad idea.”

I never did get myself back to the computer. I may have fallen asleep in a pool of my own tears.

*3:00pm: As mentioned, the Governors races are in some ways more important than anything else. Two of the closest races (based on the last polls) are:

Kansas: Kelly (D) 50% chance – Kobach (R) 50% chance (per FiveThirtyEight)

Georgia: Abrams (D) 33% chance – Kemp (R): 68% chance (per FiveThirtyEight)

Consider how odd it is that Democrats could win Governor’s seats in Kansas and Georgia. Reliably red places. After all, Trump won Kansas two years ago by 21%.

*2:49pm: Update from that Iowa race that I’m watching close, King (R) v. Scholten (D):

Steve King bars the Des Moines Register from his election night event: “We are not granting credentials to the Des Moines Register or any other leftist propaganda media outlet with no concern for reporting the truth.”

The Des Moines Register is the largest paper in the state, and it frequently endorses Republicans.

*2:36pm: One fascinating thing this election is the likely unprecedented gender divide. Our politics have long been split along race, rural/urban, age. But never have we seen such a strong split between men and women. A big story has been how much women voters are trending toward the Democrats and how a larger percentage of men than ever before are aligning with the GOP.

When the exit polls are released, anything indicating a bigger female turnout when compared to 2016 or 2014 would be good news for Democrats (and vice versa).

*2:30pm – In a few hours we will start hearing about exit poll results. Since we’ve been waiting all day, they will be devoured and everyone will make assumptions about what it means (even though polls are still open and millions of voters have yet to cast).

In prep for that, here’s some snippets from one of the better detailed explainers on exit polls:

Despite the occasional controversies, exit polls remain among the most sophisticated and reliable political surveys available. They will offer an unparalleled look at today’s voters in a way that would be impossible without quality survey data. Having said that, they are still just random sample surveys, possessing the usual limitations […]

So if this poll is so sophisticated, why can’t we rely on the leaked mid-day “numbers” that will soon spread like wildfire across the web? […]

1) It is still just a survey

2) The mid-day numbers do not reflect weighting by actual turnout

3) Voting patterns may be different early in the day

4) Doesn’t account for early or absentee voting

5) They could be fictional

*2:14pm – Politics can bring out the worst in us; it is divisive by definition. But elections can also bring out the absolute best in us.

For example, a few minutes ago a pizza delivery man was at my doorstep dropping off food that I did not order.

Turns out, a special soul called it in from several states away in an extreme act of kindness. The world is a good place. (Thank you Kaylee; may karma allow all of your preferred candidates to win tonight).


*1:50pm – Here are the latest guesses on the Senate swing. Remember the Ds need to pick up 2 seats to take control:

FiveThirtyEight: R+1

Crystal Ball: R+1

RealClearPolitics: R+2

Decision Desk HQ: R+1

*1:45pm – As mentioned before, more prognosticators give the Ds anywhere from an 80-90% chance of taking the House. They need 23 seat flips to do it.

Winning the House is one thing, building a decent cushion of seats is another. The influence that Ds can have on controversial legislation depends on how many seats they win. Here are the latest guesses:

FiveThirtyEight: D+39

Crystal Ball: D+34

RealClearPolitics: D+27

Decision Desk HQ: D+38

*1:20pm – Early comments out of Northern VA is that turnout is high in VA-10. Wexton liking the numbers so far. (Though it seems like Ds have said this every year for a long time, so who knows 😉 I’m trying hard to maintain my happy pessimism. 

*1:13pm – More on turnout in CO. Senior vote is up too (similar to youth increase discussed earlier). This is a good reminder that you can often cherry-pick information to make yourself feel better.

In general, higher turnout is assumed to be better for the Ds. But we simply don’t know if there’s increased passion everywhere, including among waffling R voters.


*1:00pm – It’ll be long night with West Coast races not coming in until the wee hours for us on the East Coast. However, we’ll likely have a solid idea of House control relatively early. That’s because Ds have the chance to gain a large amount of seats in just a few East Coast states (i.e. PA and NJ).

I’ve heard a lot of chatter about NJ potentially losing almost all of its R Congressman.  Basically the entire state is similar to the suburban districts where Rs are losing support. This registration data comparing 2016 to 2018 in each NJ district is telling.
nj data.png

*12:45pm – A quick Winchester, Virginia digression for those who, like me, live in this tiptop VA city. Three city council races are contested. All are currently held by Republicans.

1st ward (my own): Wiley v. Merrill

3rd ward: McInturff v. Herbstritt

4th ward: Taylor v. McKiernan

I took a look at the breakdown of votes from each ward in several of the last elections.

Ward 4 is clearly the strongest for the GOP (it even went for Gillespie last November in a blue sweep year). The Ds have never really won there, and with a strong candidate this year, I don’t think that will change. I predict Taylor (R) wins that one.

Ward 1 is very close. Northam won it by nearly 8 points last November. But it has been a toss up in every other election. Bill Wiley is a strong incumbent, and even with a very spirited campaign from Teri Merrill, I think Wiley (R) is the favorite. Though an upset is not out of the question.

Ward 3 is another story. I think Kim Herbstritt has the best chance of the three races to flip a seat to the Ds. The party has been strong in the ward in previous races, with Northam winning handily in 2017 and Mayor David Smith (D) winning by nearly 19% in 2016. Incumbent Milt McInturuff has not faced a competitive race (even after 12 years). McInturff is the most outspoken conservative on the board and is polarizing. I think this seat could have been taken years ago. I’d bet on Herbstritt (D) now. I’ll be rooting for her.    

*12:33pm – Some information on CO voters…

colorado demographics

*12:29pm – Every year there are reports of voting problems, machine malfunctions, and similar issues. Most of the time it’s small and isolated. Though in extra tight elections (and we will likely have some this year), these small things have a huge impact (i.e. Bush v. Gore in 2000).

The most talked about problem so far seem to be coming out of Georgia (where there might be several razor thin races): “Long Lings and Technical Problems in Georgia”

Some of the biggest problems Tuesday were in Georgia, a state with a hotly contested gubernatorial election. Voters reported waiting up to three hours to vote. […] Hannah Ackermann said officials at the polling site offered various explanations for the delay, including blaming workers who didn’t show up and overloaded machines.

*12:24pm – Waiting, waiting, waiting for more information. As we sit here, the final tallies from FiveThirtyEight:

Chance that Ds win the House: 87.9%

Chance that Ds win the Senate: 19.1%

Flashback to 2016. FiveThirtyEight’s final chance that Trump would win Presidency: 28.6% (this was much higher, and therefore more accurate, than most other models)

*12:18pm – Along the same lines, here’s FiveThirtyEight’s helpful little guide on what we will learn at different times once the polls start closing this evening. The races to watch early that will set the tone for the rest.

*12:16pm Here is the poll closing  map. No “hard” data will be released until then (starting at 6pm EST in part of Kentucky and Indiana). A smattering of east coast states close at 7 or 7:30pm, most of the eastern half of country ends at 8pm, 9pm for middle of country, and then 10pm to 1am for the rest.

polls close

*11:58am – Before we cross the noon hour, one thing bears repeating. If the Ds win the House and the Rs keep the Senate, it is not a “mixed decision” or “tie.” That is a win for the Ds, a real shift in power. In other years, the Senate might be in play, but it just happened that the Ds are defending 26 of the 35 seats. That’s the most lopsided scenario for any nonpresidential party in 100 years.

A win in the House, gains in Governors, not losing more than 1 or 2 Senate seats. That’s a huge victory for the Ds.


*11:51am – Here’s one take of where the Ds will gain seats in the debate of suburbs vs. former union D areas…


*11:37amA caveat for midterm elections: We will need to stay up later tonight than in a Presidential election to figure out “how the winds are blowing.” In a Presidential election, trends lines early usually follow throughout the night. (i.e. if a candidate is doing well in one Midwest state, then they’ll likely do the same relative to projections in all of them).

BUT, that’s not as much the case in individual House races. A party could do well in certain races, but not others, with many more individual factors playing a role.

It will be less likely to say as soon as polls close, maybe around 7:30 or 8pm, exactly how things are going to look. We will slowly learn everything, of course, but it’s more of a gradual process.

This is great news for those of us who like to prolong the drama and excitement of election day as much as possible. Though, it could be misery for those who just want to know the answers.

*11:22pm – The FiveThirtyEight generic ballot forecast is frozen. It ended at D +8.7. In the past, generic ballot polls have been decent indicators of swings in House seats overall. It’s was often tossed around that the Ds need to be at least +5% or +6% to take the House. It’s not a guarantee of anything, but obviously you’d rather be Ds than Rs with those numbers.

We’ve frozen our forecasts, the final model runs are whirring away now. And we’ve also frozen our generic ballot average. It wound up at D+8.7. That’s not a good number for Republicans. The Democratic lead ticked up from about 8 percentage points to 9-ish on the last set of polls we entered before freezing everything.


*11:11am – In the Senate, two races that for whatever reason I’m most interested in:

Texas: Cruz (R) v. O’Rourke (D) – Obviously Beto is a charismatic figure. I think we are a better place when a large state like Texas has close, competitive races. Ted Cruz’s shamelessness always struck me as depressing. A shocking loss for Cruz would feel like we’ve turned a page for the better.

Tennessee: Breseden (D) v. Blackburn (R) – Like in Texas, showing that a moderate D can win in a relatively red state would be welcome breath of fresh air.

Both of those races are likely to stick with the Rs. But, they’re not entirely out of reach.

*11:02am – Encouraging:


*10:56am – The big picture is most important, but everyone has a few races that matter most to them for personal or symbolic reasons. For me:


 VA-10: Wexton (D) v. Comstock (R). My district. We have a chance to flip a seat. Wexton is a moderate, former prosecutor, good fit for this area.

IA -4: King (R) vs. Scholten (D). It’s a longshot for the Ds, but if anyone deserves to lose unexpectedly it’s Steve King of Iowa. His racial views are simply unacceptable. Even the Republican Party  pulled financial support. In his closing message this week King attacked the Republican Committee for not giving him money and instead sending “money over to support a candidate in a primary in California who had a same-sex partner that they put all over glossy mailers.” Apparently Steve King does not believe gay Republicans should exist. King also said yesterday that he hopes Justices Elena Kagan and Sotomayor will “elope in Cuba.” Whatever the hell that means. Scholten only has about a 15% chance of winning, but it would be heartwarming to see King out the door.


*10:33am – An open question that will be discussed after tonight’s results:

Did Ds make more gains in Romney-Clinton districts, Obama-Trump dsitricts, or both?

A bit more attention has been paid to “Romney-Clinton” districts, usually in suburbs that typically vote for moderate Rs but turned strongly against Trump.

However, some think that the Ds actually might do even better in the areas that have old-fashioned D leanings (union based), but went for Trump. They argue that more than anything there will be a reversion to the mean, where Rs don’t necessarily do as well this election in the Midwest as they did in 2016. They may bear out with wins in PA, OH, WI, MN.

*10:25am – Voting lines seem to be long in many places, especially for a midterm.
Here’s one from Acworth Georgia. Remember there is a marquee Governor’s race here, as well as a toss-up House race. (H/T Melissa Altmix-Grotts )


*10:15am – Right now all we have are polls and early voting stats. Early voting remains a wobbly thing, because experts are unsure how to analyze it. We don’t have great data from older elections about how much we can learn from early voting party ID stuff.

But one area where there is agreement is that one guy is the best, most reliable, at trying to get something useful out of early voting. His name is Jon Ralston, and he does Nevada politics. He’s the go to guy on the extra tight Senate race between incumbent Heller (R) and challenger Rosen (D).

You can read his detailed analysis, but the short version: Rosen likely has around a 20,000 vote lead heading into election day, and it’s going to be very very difficult for Heller to catch up. 

*9:59am – We won’t really get any more polls (obviously). But we may get more gossip about internal feelings from each race. Most campaigns with a reasonable amount of money run internal polls all the time. They don’t release those figures publicly unless its for some strategic purpose.

That’s why we’ll likely get more stuff like this (from a few days ago re: TN Senate race where Rs should win but haven’t been able to put it away yet):

tn poll.png

*9:52am – Election Day should be a national holiday (or more options should be available for early voting). But at least in some places you’re required to get time off from work to do your duty:

get time off.jpg

*9:48am – This may cause panic, but party affiliation in early votes can be very misleading.



The Ds winning the House will have the biggest impact on what policies are/are not passed at the federal level in the next two years.

BUT, the Ds winning more Governor’s races will have the biggest impact on Trump’s reelection in 2020. It is an advantage to have your party control the Governor’s mansion in swing states in presidential years (so watch those races in Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin,, Iowa and others).

*9:33am – Will weather hurt D chances in extra tight areas?


*9:30am – Every election is a reminder that things change. We have an idea of certain states as being red or blue and parts of state as being conservative or liberal. But, everything is in flux.

I always find these shifts  interesting. For example, in Ohio, this cycle may highlight the fading of Cleveland compared to Columbus?

(There is an extra tight Governor’s race in Ohio, Cordry (D) vs. DeWine (R), that will have implications for the 2020 Presidential race.)


*9:21am – If you are an old man (like me), and still have a soft spot for paper and pens, there are a few “cheat sheets” that you can print and mark up as you follow along tonight.

The best one, I think, is HERE (from Daniel Nichanian).  It’s organized clearly, yet goes very deep, including some state and local races that you may not have heard of, with brief snippets of why those races are interesting. It’s worth browsing.

.pdf version: Elections-tracker-Nov5

*9:13amNever forget

chocolate milk.png

*8:57am – More out of Florida:



8:48am – Speaking of same-day registration, here’s an interesting map (based on a new report) that ranks all 50 states on the hurdles put into place for voters.

Most Convenient – (1) Oregon, (2) Colorado, (3) California

Most Restrictive – (50) Mississippi, (49) Virginia, (48) Tennessee


Annual Reminder: Even if you (or a friend/family member) haven’t registered, you can still vote (and register on site) if you live in  one of these 11 places: Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, or Wyoming.  [BTW, more states should allow this.]

*8:37am Reminder for Virginia voters: you must bring an ID to vote. Many different IDs work AND you can still use them a year after they are expired.

Curious about your polling place? Look HERE.

*8:27am – Sad but mostly true…


*8:25am – The five biggest seat-by-seat forecasters/models are probably: FiveThirtyEight, Inside Elections, Real Clear Politics, Cook, and Crystal Ball. Here is a very simple spreadsheet that aggregates them all so that you can see where they may disagree (though they’re relatively close in most cases).

*8:16am – Another reminder that our mind is sometimes screwy with election odds:

Either way, there’s the potential for misunderstanding. People can mentally “round up” high probabilities to certainties. An 86 percent chance might seem like a sure thing, but it isn’t — would you board a plane that had a 14 percent chance of crashing?

*7:59am If you are riding on the train or bus or avoiding your first few hours of work, here’s a good article to skim to be refresh on how the night can tip either way with so many close races…

On the day before the midterm elections, two vastly different outcomes remain easy to imagine. There could be a Democratic blowout that decisively ends Republicans’ control of the House and even endangers their Senate majority. Or there could be a district-by-district battle for House control that lasts late on election night and perhaps for weeks after.

The first would be interpreted as a repudiation of Donald J. Trump, the second as another example of his political resilience. But the difference turns on just a few percentage points across dozens of House districts that remain exceptionally close, according to New York Times Upshot/Siena College surveys conducted over the last few weeks.

*7:55am Annual reminder: Selfie danger. Here is a state-by-state list explaining whether it is legal or illegal to take photos in the voting booth or polling place. It’s probably best to just take a picture with your voted sticker afterward like the rest of us humblebragging about being so civically minded.

Virginia = LEGAL 

Illinois = ILLEGAL

*7:48am – How does your polling place look? Let us (me) know! Here’s early voting from Northern IL a few days ago (H/T/ Kaylee Macedo)

*7:38am – We will hear a lot throughout the day about how well a certain party needs to perform in election day voting to win. Based on X early/absentee voting, we think candidate Y needs to win Z% of today’s vote.

Just a heads up that this is based on registration figures on those early voters. We don’t actually know who those votes are for. Instead, we only know that a certain percentage are registered R, D, and unregistered. However, not everyone who is registered with a party will vote for every candidate from that party in this election. In fact, in close races, the difference can be whether there are crossover votes (i.e. a frustrated R who decides to vote for a D). Also, the unaffiliated’s tend to break more toward one candidate than another.

In short: If you see a stat flash up about how one party have a sizable lead in early voting, don’t assume that means the worst (or best).

*7:23am – 


*7:08am – Early prognostication from FL (tight Senate and Governor’s races)…


*7:05am – Today is voting day. But about 35-40 million votes have already been cast (early and absentee). That is out of a projected total midterm vote of between 90-110 million. In other words, anywhere from 30-40% of voting is finished.

How quickly we learn results tonight in some ways hinges on how quickly we learn the tallies of those early votes. Every jurisdiction has a different speed.

*6:49am – Voted. Special thanks for Bekka for making the mile walk with me to our polling place. She was hit by a car only a few months ago, was told “you shouldn’t be alive,” had a follow up surgery less than a week ago, and still made it on foot over rough brick sidewalks to bring home the sanity. No excuses.

Last reminder to not only vote but send a gentle nudge to anyone you know who may not be as obsessed as you are with this race. Science has shown (really), that a reminder from a family member or friend is the single biggest way to increase turnout.


*6:41am – I hate desk clutter, but today is the one of the very few when having three screens is acceptable. Will it help me discover breaking news faster? Not really. Will I be able to absorb more information at once? No. Am I a  better American because I stare at three screens about the election for 15 straight hours? Certainly not.

But it does help maximize the stress, anxiety, fear, and feeling of overwhelm that this day brings (along with the small dashes of exhilaration). So, there’s that.


*6:00amOkay campers. Rise and shine. And don’t forget your booties, ‘cause it’s cold out there today!

Here we go again. Another first Tuesday in November. Another election. You’ve heard it is “The Most Important Election Of Your Lifetime.”

Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Ask your friends if they’ve voted. Be that annoying person for one day. Please. Because, THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION OF YOUR LIFETIME.

We don’t get to repeat this day again. No Do-Overs.

See you in a bit.

Election Eve Live Blog – 2018

*7:15pm – That’s it for today. Sleep tight. Dream of  election night surges, the hugs of loved ones, the deep exhale of knowing that tomorrow begins the long trek back to balance and sanity.

I recommend getting to bed immediately, because it’s gonna be a loooooong one tomorrow. One more sleep.

*6:34pm – Texas has seen one of the largest increases in early voting. A big question is whether or not that is a result of a surge of new voters or “cannibalization” of regular voters who are just choosing to vote early instead of on election day.

early voting.jpg

*5:00pm – Perhaps the most unusual aspect to this midterm election has been money. Unlike at any time before, the Ds have dramatically outraised the Rs in House races. If there is a surprise in the Ds direction, the money might be pointed to as the sign.

The latest:

Republicans – 43.1% of total – $652.9 mil [ Candidates- $403.6 mil ; Outside Groups- $249.3 mil]

Democrats – 56.9% of total – $851.7 mil  [Candidates- $535.6 mil Outside Groups- $325.1 mil]

In the 2016 race for the House, Rs spent $543 mil and Ds spent $423 mil

*4:45pm – Gerrymandering is designed to help a party win/keep more seats than it otherwise would based on its share of the vote. You know the idea: design districts so that your party has enough of “your kind” of voters to win, but not too many. Too many of your own voters means they are wasted. Instead, spread them out, and jam all your opponents voters into the same districts.

Makes sense.

But that means that many more of your seats are not necessarily sure things in a wave election. Your party may be able to win by about 5% in many seats every election. But if there is a wave and the other party starts over-performing by 6,7, or 8%, then there’s a sharp drop off, with a large number of endangered districts.

The term that’s often used is that a gerrymandered map is “wide but shallow.”

That’s because gerrymandering gives one party more overall seats, but fewer solid/always safe seats. So depending on the size of the D “wave” this election (if there is one), the Rs gerrymandering in certain states may actually help flip more seats that otherwise would be flipped to the Ds.

*4:03pm – Here’s a turnout model released yesterday (US Election Project) based on various factors, especial early voters. Remember, in general, Ds are rooting for highest turnout possible. But it’s not 100% clear that a higher turnout is better for them.


Predicted 2018 turnout: 44.8% (it was 36% in 2014). From a high of 61.5% in MN and a low of 36% in KY. These are guesses, so they may be wildly off.

*3:40pm – Donald Trump essentially secured the presidency because he won over a larger chunk of voters who made up their mind in the last few days. As usually happens, these undecided voters “broke” toward him. Undecideds rarely split up evenly.  If 8% of voters say that are unsure in a race, in the final vote tally, each candidate does not usually get 4% of them. It’s more likely a 6% – 2% or 7% – 1% split. They tend to break toward one candidate.

So when you see polls that show a decent chunk of undecided voters, odds are that one candidate will get a larger share of them, and it could put them over the top if the race is close.

Some are arguing that Ds seem to be gaining (in House races) over these final days. Are undecideds breaking toward them in these last days? For example,

*3:20pm – Early vote figures out of Colorado:

coearly vote

*3:10pm – Early voting lines back in Champaign, IL at the Illini Union (from @MaxNWeiss). University of Illinois students are in a swing district this year, with Congressman Rodney Davis (R) at risk of losing his seat to Betsy Dirkesen Londrigen (D).

FTE gives the Ds about a 28% chance of flipping this seat. She’s an underdog, but it’s in reach in a wave year. To win, Londrigen definitely needs to rack up big margins with high turnout among students.

illini union.jpg

*3:05pm – Perhaps the most high profile race in the country is Texas Senate. Ted Cruz v. Beto O’Rourke. Beto is a sensation, raising more more than any Senate candidate ever. Presidential talk started as soon as his video on NFL players kneeling went viral. But national celebrity is not the same as winning a Texas election.

For awhile now, it was assumed that Beto had little to no chance. All talk was on whether he could prevent getting blown out, keeping a respectable national profile alive.

But, the very last poll of the race, has it tied. Is it really a toss up? No. Cruz is clearly the favorite. But in a wave D election with polls off a few points, it’s not out of the question.

From FiveThirtyEight:


*3:00pm – From CNN, the weather for election day seems to be stormy  in the East:

Every state east of the Mississippi River is likely to see rain at some point when the polls are open on Tuesday, though some states will undoubtedly see more storms and potentially disruptive weather than others.


The old story is that rain is good for Rs and bad for Ds. That’s because R voters historically are more reliable, and Ds count on a higher turnout with votes from the infrequent voter.

However, there is not great data on that ever being the case. And one argument is that it helps whoever is already most motivated to vote, which this year seems to be D voters by a little bit.

*2:50pm – For the super-geeks, here’s the handiest county-by-county 2016 vote count spreadsheet that I could find (from Greg Giroux) . Very easy to navigate. Let’s you browse as comparison for this election or just to kill time. When things get extra tight on election night and the anchors talk about what countries still have outstanding votes, these are the sort of figures that let you know what to expect from those places.

For example, my current locale, Winchester, VA went for Clinton over Trump, 48% – 44%. Hometown of Kankakee Co, IL went for Trump, 53% – 41%

*2:30pm – There are a few high profile election forecast models. They use a range of factors to make their guesses. They heavily rely on polls (obviously) along with fundraising figures and other indicators.

Alternatively, there are a few “political science” forecasts that predict swings from party to party based on big historical trends. These forecasts don’t judge individual races but instead look at broad circumstances, presidential approval, general political climate, etc.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball provided a handy chart of what four of these political science models project:


You’ll notice that these forecasts fit within current poll-based models, ranging from a Democratic gain of 27 to 44 House seats (all of them predict D control of House). They also project a few seat gain for Rs in the Senate.

*2:15pm – Something I should have known earlier but just learned now: Why election day is on a Tuesday in November. As you might expect, it’s because of what life was like at the nation’s founding.

November was picked because it was after harvesting but before the worst of the winter.

Tuesday was picked because it was between worship on Sundays and market days on Wednesdays. Monday was used to travel to the voting site (via horse, obviously).

Fascinating, but does it really make sense today? I’m all for traditions, yet not everything older is better.  We have extra large room for improvement in our current election process.

*2:05pm – Without a Presidential race, it’ll be easier for the “disappointed” side to spin the results tomorrow so they don’t look as bad. The most likely outcome is a D House and an R Senate. But, make no mistake, that is not a “draw.” That is a win for the Ds and would have dramatic effects on what policies could become law in the next two years. That would mark a shift in power from our current status.

Here’s a possible measuring stick for tomorrow to evaluate whether the Ds over-perform or under-perform (from FiveThirtyEight):

expectations 2

*1:45pm – Speaking of odds, the Grandmaster election forecaster, Nate Silver, constantly emphasizes that the range of possibilities is very large. In other words, don’t be too shocked if the Ds don’t win the House. BUT also don’t be too shocked if they win 55 or 60 seats (they need 23). 


*1:25pm – A quick note on odds. It is best to think of the election models as probabilities of winning (not hard absolute guesses on who will win). There is an 85% chance the Ds take the House and an 85% chance Rs keep the Senate. But that means there is a 15% chance the opposite happens in each.

Consider field goal odds as a comparison:

An NFL kicker attempting a 37 yard field goal.

Each team gets one kick. If the Ds make theirs, they win the House. If the Rs make theirs, they win the Senate.

If you were guessing, you’d say that they both will hit. BUT, is it out of the question that one might miss? It could totally happen. You would expect the kicker to make a 37 yarder, but you wouldn’t faint if one missed. Keep that in mind whenever you hear pundits talk tomorrow about what is or is not a longshot.

*1:00pm – One of the final set of polls that we will get before tomorrow…

final polls

*12:55pm – Much ballyhoo about early voting numbers this year. It’s a very real and somewhat startling increase from the last midterm election. BUT, a dash of cold water: 2014 midterms were the lowest turnout in 70 years. That doesn’t necessarily discount the surge this year, but there was a LOT of room for improvement from 2014 anyway.

*12:46pm – A good Andrew Sullivan piece on tomorrow’s stakes:

sullivan summary_LI.jpg

*12:31pm – The ballot initiatives I’ll be watching tomorrow:

(1) Four states will vote on marijuana legalization: North Dakota and Michigan (recreational); Missouri & Utah (medical)

(2) Medicaid expansion is on the ballot in Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, & Utah.

(3) Ohio Drug Laws: All felony nonviolent drug offenses would be reduced to misdemeanors. The idea is to lower the prison population. Fearmongers claim that it will make Ohio a “drug magnet.” I think it is an interesting test point to public opinion on easing drug laws in a swing state.

(4) Louisiana Verdicts: Would ban felony convictions without unanimous jury vote. Louisiana is one of 2 states (Oregon) where you can be found guilty, even if a jury is not unanimous. This law traces back to Jim Crow; it is ridiculous that it’s even in doubt.

(5) Florida Felony Voting: A proposition would restore voting rights to felons who have completed their sentence (except those with murder or sex offenses). 1.4 million Americans may have their rights restored.

(6) Abortion-related initiatives are on the ballot in Oregon, West Virginia, and Alabama. With the new SCOUTS makeup, we can expect even more abortion drama than usual in the coming years. States will try to restrict more and more, the laws will be challenged, and those challenges will likely end up in front of the new Nine.

*11:55am Be sure to read the whole thread. This highlights something that will happen a lot over the next 36 hours. A stat pulled out of somewhere that seems good/bad for one side, but the overall impact is far more muddled.

Like in fantasy football, you can cherry pick stats or matchups to make anyone seem liable to score a lot of points. What is left out is often more important than what is mentioned. 

generic ballot.png

*11:50am Hmmm…


*11:45am The final FiveTirtyEight Projections:

House: 87% chance of D control (average gain of 39 seats)

Senate: 84% chance of R control (Rs gain 1 seat)

Governor: Ds gain 8 states (63.5% of population lives in D-held state)

*11:15am More younger voters is almost always a good sign for Ds.

tx early vote.png

*11:10am We must wait until tomorrow evening for real results. Dammit. But what if we want to know right now how things are looking? We have 2 things: (1) Polls/Models ; (2) Early Voting Statistics.

If you are as obsessed with this as I am, you know all about it. But if you are a normal person, you preserved your sanity and devoted attention to other things the last few weeks. So here’s the briefest summary (more detail later):

(1) Polls/Models: Most models have the Ds picking up 25-40 seats in the House, taking control (they need 23). The trend lines over the last week (based on individual polls and generic ballot polls) has been a tick even better for the Ds. In the Senate, the opposite is the case, with most models showing the Rs picking up 1-3 seats and keeping control.

(2) Early Voting: There is significant controversy over whether early voting figures tell us anything. However, for those who believe they are helpful, the #1 storyline is that turnout is UP compared to the last midterm election virtually everywhere. Higher turnout usually is good news for Ds. However, in our hyper polarized environment, some argue that both sides are benefiting and it may not be as much of a boon for Ds as usual. For me, I think the old rule applies here, and big numbers is a cause for optimism for Ds in close races.

*11:05am There is no presidential race, so how should we judge tomorrow? That’s like a newbie sitting down as the season finale of Game of Thrones starts and asking, “So what’s going on?” 

Oh boy, where to begin…

The moon view is that tomorrow reveals how the country feels about its decision to elect Donald Trump two years ago. Was it a good idea? Have his actions/decisions been good or bad for the country?

There are 5 things I’ll be watching tomorrow:

(1) Control of the US House R’s currently control it. Ds need to flip 23 seats to take control. All 435 seats are up, but about 310 of those seats are not in doubt. Instead there are around 115 seats that are “in play.”  Almost everyone agrees that the Ds will gain some seats, but how many? Throughout the night, the biggest thing to track is the number that the Ds are seeming to flip. Is it over or under 23. Current projections: Anywhere from 15 to 60.

(2) Control of the US Senate – Rs currently control it. Ds need to flip 2 seats to take control. Only 35 seats are up, and about 12 are “in play.” More of those in play seats are held by Ds already, so they have far fewer opportunities to flip a seat. Current projections: Anywhere from Ds gaining 2 to Rs gaining 5.

(3) Governor Races – Right now there are 33 R governors and 16 D governors. But Ds are poised to make gains in both total states with a D governor and total population living under a D governor. The highest profile races are in Florida, Georgia, and Kansas.  Current projections: Ds gaining 5 to 10 seats.

(4) State/Local Races – The people who you elect to your statehouse, city council, and county board may actually impact your life more than those at the federal level. The party that wins these statehouses now will be involved in redistricting after the upcoming 2020 census.

(5) Ballot Initiatives  – Legalized marijuana, felony voting rights, and other policies will be decided by voters in states across the country.

*10:50pm – Cool map from Bloomberg showing the most common types of issues campaign ads were shown each area. (3 million ads analyzed). My own district (the top of Virginia) is the dark blue “Anti-Trump.” It makes sense, our sitting Congresswoman is a Republican, but Clinton won this district by 10 points, and we are outside DC where Trump is loathed with the fury of a thousand red giants.

This is also a good reminder that when you hear one pundit or another say that X is the issue that matters. The Democrats path to victory is Y.  They’re almost always oversimplifying to the point of uselessness. Different people care about different things. Winning control of any chamber or statehouse or school board or governor’s mansion requires different strategies.


*9:54amBe sure to take care of yourself, even if your nails are bitten down to nubs.

stress drinking

stress drinking2

7:48am – Christmas Eve is often more special than the big day. It’s the same with vacations. Dreaming of what’s ahead, the building excitement can be more valuable than the live experience. Science backs that up.


The mind can work magic with unlimited potential. Enjoy this day, political/election nerds, because tomorrow might be the beginning of the hangover (or maybe not, who’s to say).

*7:35am –  Antici…

antici GIF

Does It Really Make Sense for a Frustrated Republican to Vote for a Democrat?

We jammed the first political sign of the season into the dirt in our yard. It was for a Republican. City Council. Incumbent. A moderate who has the best interest of the community at heart. We know his opponent too. A first time Democratic candidate inspired to get more active in recent years. We attended a Meet-N-Great for her campaign kickoff. She’s an asset to our neighborhood. 

Bushes (R) and Obamas (D)

We decided to go with our existing representative this time but many friends will go the other way. Winchester, Virginia will be well served no matter who wins the election.

That first sign was for a Republican. The second was for a Democrat for Congress.

If our Republican candidate was running for Congress (instead of City Council), we would not support him this year. The consequences for each office are vastly different.

I urge all those who consider themselves Republicans, conservative, moderates, independent–but who are deeply concerned about the current administration–to vote for a Democrat for Congress on November 6th.

President Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy
D. Eisenhower (R) and J. Kennedy (D)

Some reasons why:

1) The race for Congress is about Donald Trump and his brand of “conservatism.” Full stop. Will the chaos that Trump has brought to the federal government be bolstered or rejected? That’s the point of Nov. 6th.

2) If you are cheering Trump’s tweets and rallies and personality…if you prefer Donald Trump’s party to John McCain’s party, then you can stop reading now. I won’t convince you of anything.

3) A vote for a Republican for Congress is a vote to strengthen Donald Trump’s political capital within the Republican party itself.  The election is just as much a referendum on the two futures within the GOP, as it is the nation as a whole.

4) If the GOP holds Congress, Trump’s conduct is validated. There will be zero check on his control within government or within his party. He’ll have the votes and political capital to squash any Mueller report findings, indictments, or criticisms of his conduct.  

That is terrifying. Not just for liberals or Democrats, but to reasonable Republicans who believe in competence, balance, character, honesty, prudence, accountability, and basic fitness for our treasured office.  

But But But, I sometimes hear from reasonable Republican friends, but the alternative is worse. Look, I don’t like Trump, but he’s doing some good things. But I hate Colin Kaepernick. But at least it’s not socialism.

mccain kerry
J. Kerry (D) and J. McCain (R)

The “Buts” in this case fall far too short:

First, please don’t minimize the costs of having Donald Trump as the Republican that many children will forever identify with the party:  

  • The only President ever implicated by his own attorney in a criminal felony conspiracy under oath (for covering up hush payments to a porn star for an affair shortly after his wife gave birth).
  • Who’s attorney, campaign manager, and national security advisor have already been found guilty of felonies. 
  • A President who calls his own attorney general “mentally retarded. Who insults veterans for being tortured in war if they disagree with him.
  • Who sides with a Russian dictator over our own national security professionals. Who believes that America is morally equivalent to Russia but who considers Canada an enemy. 
  • A President who so obviously, clearly, and without ambiguity makes choices based entirely on his own ego and self-interest.

There is a tremendous cost to that being your guy. And if the GOP keeps Congress, he will forever be your guy. Mini-Mes will sprout up even after he’s gone to fill the void.

The only way forward is a rejection at the ballot box.

J. Boehner (R) and B. Obama (D)

Refusing to enable a son’s drug addiction can be hard, but it’s appropriate. You don’t get to pretend that you’re trying to solve the problem if  you keep slipping him cash and driving him to his dealer.

Second, the “cost” of a Democratic Congress is far lower than frustrated Republicans might suspect:

  • Many of Trump’s current policies are not conservative anyway. Shunning the free-market, imposing tariffs, and a budget that, for the first time ever, projects a permanent $1 trillion annual deficit.
  • Contrary to what you may have heard, Democratic candidates in many districts are reasonable, experienced, hardworking members of the community. You may be surprised that they share many of your own concerns.  Do not fall for scare tactics.
  • Trump will still be President. The Democratic party will not be able to pass anything without bipartisan support. There is also another election in 2 years, when you re-calibrate and make a different decision if necessary.

This is the most important election of a generation. Think carefully.

You do not have to come out of the closet, switch parties, or in any way run up against the public pressures of political tribalism. You can just vote, quietly, for the Democratic candidate, kindling the idea that the Republican party will steer itself back on a more American course. 

I hope you make that choice.

Dear American, You Have Permission to Say: Enough.

Dear American,

We-Agree-Russian (1)

You have permission to treat this one differently. You have permission to say: Enough.

Yesterday, the American President stood on foreign soil, next the smiling face of a murderous dictator who attacked our democratic system, and blamed America. The President disgraced the office that the American people allow him to hold.



This is not another random mistake in today’s political circus. The President of the United States’s first task is to stand as our champion out in the world. He failed.

You have permission to say: I won’t tolerate this one.

You probably already knew that the President was an extreme narcissist. You knew he shot from the hip. You knew he had “issues.” But you were willing to overlook that, because you hoped for change to our politics.

But after this, you have permission to re-evaluate. It does not mean that you were wrong to support him. It does not mean that you are giving up your principles. It does not mean that the liberals who post on Facebook were right all along. It only means that you’ve decided: Enough.

You will be tempted by excuses soon. The easy way is to take them, pretend that there is some explanation for the President’s disgrace, and fiddle away as usual. Please, please be stronger than that.

You will hear that the President was misunderstood. That it’s being blown out of proportion. That he really must be playing some sort of complex diplomatic game. That maybe he chastised the dictator behind closed doors.

You will hear distraction, mention of other people that you don’t like, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, everybody does it, they were worse, but what about this, on and on and on.

You will hear a “clarification” statement, hoping to quell your fears, correct the record, ease any concern. See, fixed, please move along.

Please don’t give in that easy.  You have permission to say: Enough.

As citizens, it’s our obligation.


Other Americans

Dear Sane One, We Need You.

I can’t see you, but I know you’re there. Lurking.

You scroll down, reading, arguing in your head, but never responding. You listen to your husband, wife, neighbor, uncle as they rant. But you don’t engage. Nod, fake smile, change the subject.sanity1

You call yourself independent or maybe conservative. You’re one of the sane ones, but what can you do? Most of these issues are complicated, you realize, but all of that gets lost. There are only two loud voices screaming from the the end zones: Lock Up All the Kids or Open Borders. At least that’s what it seems like to you.

You don’t want to get involved. It’s not worth it, you think. But here’s the thing: You have to get involved. At least a little bit. We desperately need you.

I don’t have to convince you that the President is bananas. You already know that. He’s activating the worst in us, creating chaos, stoking the brush fire–the flames fuel him.

That’s where you come in. You’re important, because you’re a sane one. No single savior will descend from above, bringing the rain that cools the country–not Mueller, not Biden, not Oprah.

Instead, we need 75 million saviors, each putting out the fire, bucket by bucket, patch by patch. Each of us has a role to play, including you. Especially you, because you’re a sane one, and it’s so tempting for you not to get involved, to focus instead on books and grandkids and baseball and wine.

sanity2Politics are so ugly right now, and you won’t let it devour your energy. Because you’re sane. But, we need you. It grows uglier by the day because you’re sitting it out.

You don’t have to attend a rally or march (though you could). You don’t have to knock on doors or volunteer for candidates (though you could). You don’t have to participate in 45 comment discussions on Facebook (though you could).

Just don’t stay silent, sitting idly while the fire burns in your patch.

Point out when someone defends the grotesque. Be firm in rejecting lies. Do more than roll your eyes when excuses are made. Stand up for the better angels of our nature.

Do it your way, in your own corner, at your own tempo, but…Do it.sanity3

You may not realize it, but there are others, quiet ones, fellow lurkers, who will listen to you. Who are influenced by you. Who are inspired to say a little more by your example. Because you’re sane, and they respect that. You’re conservative or independent, and yet you speak out. They’ll see that. You can make a difference.

When you are 98 years old, remembering what life was like in this era, in the middle of the inferno, you’ll be proud. When your great grandchildren ask about it, you won’t say “I kept my head down and my mouth shut.” Instead, you’ll say that you let your sanity shine and tried to put out the fire as best you could. It will be your finest hour.


Live Blog: Election Day 2017


9:05pm: I’m going to call it a liveblogging night soon. However, I’ll be up for awhile watching these VA House races come in. Unbelievably, the Democrats have a chance to take the House back–17 seat swing. This is something that no one thought at all possible. The good night for the Democrats was assumed to be between 5-7 seats. This blew it out of the water. Virginia’s state districts are gerrymandered to all hell. But, the wave tonight has been so strong, that its overwhelming even that rigging. This should scare the hell out of Republicans in close districts who don’t even have that gerrymandered wall of protection.

8:45pm:  There is only so many times you can do this kinda thing (1,154?) before some of his supporters just pause and say, “Really?”…or maybe not…who knows. But here’s the obligatory Trump pretending that the thing he touched didn’t turn to garbage:


8:34pm: Remember that ballot initiative in Maine to expand Medicaid? It looks to be winning, though close. Yet, the trends based on where the early vote is coming from suggest it has a good chance of passing. This would be the first time ever that the people of a state overruled their Republican governor and accepted the expansion.

8:26pm: A general implication of tonight’s results (though the final win margins will affect things), from 538:

Does this kind of result push a few more Republicans in swing districts to retire? That makes holding the House harder for GOP. Incumbents are almost always more likely to win in a tough district. Right now, we are seeing a lot of GOP retirements in the House, but many of them are members who are about to lose their chairmanships because of term limits or members who may just be ready to move on. They are in safe districts. Dems have to hope tonight leads to a few more GOP House members who live in competitive districts deciding to retire.

8:22pm: The next focus should be on the VA House of Delegate races. These are the races that most pundits argue are the best predictor of how things are trending for the 2018 Congressional races. So far, there are already a few seats that he Ds have swung in the state. It may be around 5…or if it gets up to 10 it’ll be a huge Democrat night. We’ll see…


8:15pm: That’s it. It’s being called for Northam now…he’ll likely bring all other Ds on the ticket as well (though they will be closer)!

8:08pm: This summarizes what we are seeing so far (though the networks haven’t officially called it for Northam yet)…

8:07pm: This was not at all something we expected going into today:

8pm: As polls close in New Jersey, all networks are immediately calling it for Democrat Phil Murphy. This shouldn’t be just brushed off. Four years ago a Republican won with race by 22%.

7:58pm: This is an anti-Trump election in Virginia. Northam is winning in blue areas…running ahead of Hillary’s (winning) total by over 7% in most areas.

7:55pm: Wow. Perhaps the most outspoken social conservative Delegate in Virginia, Bob Marshall, is currently losing by nearly 6% to Danica Roam. If elected, she would be the first transgender state representative in history. Nearly 85% of the vote is already in.

7:44pm: With half of Loudoun County reporting, Gillespie is down 18%. He needed to keep that close to win. It looks like a weak “Trump” turnout is going to decide things. Gillespie is winning by the margins he needs in rural areas, but the raw figures are too low. And that’s in combo of being clobbered more than usual in blue areas.

7:41pm: To brighten the hearts of Northam supporters (including me). Its undeniable that all early results are great news for him (*exhale*):

7:38pm: The most interesting takeaway from the numbers that are officially being  reported in VA so far:

Gillespie is dominating in rural, Trump areas. BUT, he’s getting destroyed in non-Trump areas where he did not expect to win, but at least wanted to keep it close. In other words, the Trump base seems to be steady but not as big in numbers as the anti-Trump outrage. Or said another way, as was reflected in the exit polls, more people are specifically voting against Trump than for Trump in Virginia.

But its all very very early. I could eat my words.

7:27pm: I forgot about the absurdity of  TV election night coverage. By watching, I’ve just learned that based on the votes in so far, Ed Gillespie is doing exactly what he needs to do to win in rural VA. I then learned that Ralph Northam is doing exactly what he needs to do in NoVA to win. So….they’ll tie?

7:21pm: From 538…

It’s very early, but I’m looking at three counties where Trump did well and have some very early results. If we use the 2016 presidential election as a baseline, Northam is doing well enough in those three counties to win statewide. But let’s wait for more results

7:20pm: Harry Enten, a whiz kid at 538, took the exit poll data and did some math. His rough determination is a prediction that Northam looks to be up by about 5 points. Gillespie won men by 8% but Northam won women by 19%

7:17pm: Exit polls cannot be relied on that much. BUT, I just caught that some exit polls suggest that Northam beat Gillespie 62-36 among voters who decided in the last week. If true, that’s fantastic news for the D. In close races, those with the last few days momentum often week (Trump did just that to squeak out his victory last November)

7:12pm: To keep things in perspective, the Democrats potentially cruising to a big win in New Jersey shouldn’t be ignored. That is not always a gimme. A Republican won that race the last two cycles. The last time the Democrats won Governor’s races in NJ and VA on the same day was in 2005, the year before the big Dem sweep that gave them control of both houses of Congress.

7pm: Polls are now closed, but those in line right now will still be able to vote. Here’s one close turnout observer’s prediction. He is calling Northam winning by 90,000 votes. (McAuliffe won in 2013 by 2.5%, which was about 55,000 votes back then).

6:58pm: GOP in Virginia still confident that Gillespie can pull it out, because rural turnout may have increased just as much as in NoVA (I’ve heard 120% increase in some rural areas). Almost all of the turnout rates we’ve heard are from blue parts of the state. The red areas are still somewhat a mystery…so its all up in the air. Eeeeeek.

6:46pm: No matter what happens tonight, it does not guarantee anything for 2018. House races in VA and local races in other states are likely the best indicator of how generic party affiliation may affect the next federal election. They are a lot more predictive than if Gillespie squeaks out a win by 1-2 or if Northam does. The VA Gov’s race has gotten all the attention, but that’s just because the polls showed it to be close and its the “biggest” office. In other words, if things go sour around 9pm, don’t panic. This is just the beginning. If you survived the slow burning hell that was last November’s election night,  this is nothing.

6:40pm: Another sobering reminder and polls almost close and more information starts sputtering out. If last year taught us anything, its that nothing matters until the official results are tabbed.

6:24pm: Good reminder…


6:20pm: Another key exit poll question that would seem encouraging for Northam. Of actual voters, just under 40% identified as Democrats, just over 30% identified as Republicans.

6pm: Polls close in 1 hour. Also, I’m not sure what this suggests…

5:49pm: Fairfax County had 325,000 votes in at 5pm (2 hours left). In 2013, they had 306,000 total. The raw votes in this largest county will obviously be significantly higher than the last governor’s race. Though we don’t yet know how much is due to simply a larger population versus  higher turnout percentage.

5:45pm: As a comparison, the actual voters in New Jersey today disapprove of Trump 66% – 32%

5:40pm: Caution…

5:30pm:  The actual voters in the Virginia election today disapprove of Trump, 55% to 43%. However, many moderate Republican voters in NoVA and elsewhere may be tempted to cast a Gillespie ballot, even though they despise Trump.

5:27pm: More VA exit poll questions.

Reason for voting:

To support Trump – 16%

To oppose Trump – 32%

Trump wasn’t factor – 48%

Northam has to like those numbers from actual voters. Though it’s not a guarantee of anything. As a note of caution, all exit poll data can be very misleading. You can read many things into each question and cherry pick questions that suggest a result you like.

5:25pm: New Jersey’s exit poll data also give us an idea of how that one is headed. They essentially show what you’d expect. That Democrat Phil Murphy seems to be cruising. Republican Kim Guadagno is too closely tied to outgoing Gov. Chris Christie who had completely dismal approval numbers.

5:20pm:  Other exit poll stuff…

Good for Northam: McAuliffe’s approval rating is solid among voters (53% – 43%)

Bad for Northam: Most voters wanted to keep Confederate monuments (60%…though unclear how much voters identified Northam as wanting to take them down)

5:18pm: Exit polls specifics are coming soon. These are answers given by actual voters. Pollsters are always trying to determine “likely”  voters. Exit polls are perfect on that score, because the samples are the voters. Stuff I’ve seen so far that will affect things in VA..

*More college graduates voting than 2016

*Less white non-college graduates voting than 20167

This is Good for Northam

5:03pm – A little less than 2 hours until polls close in VA. The main question now is whether there is strong after-work voting to push the turnout above 2013, or if things are just so-so and the turnout rate mirrors 2013.

4:21pm: I just noticed that the “millenial” votes below are for election day only (both this year and in 2013). Considering absentee voting was significantly up this year, there is a good chance the turnout comparisons are even more optimistic for this year.

4:18pm: I’m not sure the exact accuracy of this (there were glitches earlier in the day), but here’s the 4pm update of the vote in key “millenial” precincts this year, as compared to last governor’s race. Note that a few are already over the previous vote. For example, if I’m reading this correctly, this precinct at VCU in Richmond already has 717 more votes than last time (and there was still 3 hours to go). All the others look to have a small enough gap that they could cross the 2013 figures by the time the polls close at 7pm.

County Precinct(s) Campus
% Millennial
(age 18-40)
2013 Votes
(Election Day Totals)
Election Day
2017 Votes
(by 12:30pm)
Election Day
2017 Votes
(by 4pm)
Election Day
Total 2017 Votes
(at Polls Close)
Vote Difference from 2013 Turnout
(E-Day Only)
Albemarle 202 – University Hall UVA 88.04% 1,064 576 1,050 0 -14
Arlington 018 – Park Lane none 73.12% 1,384 1,087 1,321 0 -63
Fairfax 134 – University
George Mason
96.83% 830 431 867 0 37
Montgomery 503 – Precinct E-3 and
603 – Precinct F-3
Virginia Tech 99.27% 705 341 701 0 -4
Norfolk (City) 403 – Brambleton Norfolk State 64.08% 290 140 196 0 -94
Richmond (City)
206 – Two Hundred Six and
214 – Two Hundred Fourteen
VCU 80.37% 944 1,003 1,661 0 717
Radford (City) 001 – East Precinct Radford 62.47% 845 574 893 0 48
Williamsburg (City)
002 – Matoaka
William & Mary
68.82% 2,217 1,127 1,840 0 -377

4:11pm: If you’re finishing up your last hour at work by browsing random things, you can kill ten minutes by checking out this New Yorker article that sums up this VA race nicely…

The race in Virginia has been a study in a specific form of political anxiety. […] [T]he surprise of Election Day, 2016, has left behind a vapor of uncertainty—perhaps (if you are technical) the electorate will be whiter and older than pollsters have assumed, or perhaps (if you are less so) Trump has unearthed grievances in the electorate that do not express themselves except in the anonymity of the voting booth. […] Plenty of tangible things are at stake in the Virginia election: whether Virginia’s Medicaid rolls will be slashed, which party will control the redistricting process after the 2020 census. But there is the intangible one, still unresolved, of whether Trump and Bannon uncovered something new and lasting in American politics, or whether politicians in both parties have been spooked by a ghost.


3:59pm: This group is trying to attract younger voters to the polls at Virginia Tech with a petting zoo.

Part of me: has it really come to this?
Another part of me: baby goats are always the right answer

3:46pm: Reminder: Fairfax Co. is the largest in the state by far (2x more populous than second place). Turnout here is critical for Northam.

3:44pm: More of these…

3:41pm: I’ll keep the turnout figures coming, because that’s really the main “news” to report right now. FYI: Falls Church is a deep blue place in Fairfax Co.

3:36pm: Remember, these are overall total percentages (48% total), so they can only go up from here. This is at 3pm, polls close at 7pm. Arlington is Northam territory…

3:34pm: As you hear more about the turnout numbers in each county, keep in mind the trends from past years. The overall turnout four years ago, when Terry McAuliffe-D was elected was 43%. Ideally, if figures come in higher than that, it’s good news for Northam; lower would be good news for Gillespie. It is more important to consider the turnout in individual counties as opposed to the overall figure. But, when the final county numbers come in, if you start seeing rates of 47% or higher in certain areas, that likely means those areas are over performing.


2:38pm: There are a lot of these going around today…


2:18pm: I don’t like to nitpick on silly mistakes. But this is too funny (and there can only be so many updates on the weather). After tweeting multiple times that the election was tomorrow, Don Jr. corrected himself and just sent this out. Tody! Lesson: if you are sending something out that you cannot later edit…pause, take a breath, and review before submitting.


2:15pm: Democrats ran many more candidates in open General Assembly seats this election. Early turnout trends suggest the biggest bumps in those districts where there candidates previously ran unopposed. In other words, the candidate surge down ballot is likely helping the top of the ticket races. This could support the argument that Democrats need to “Run Everywhere” in upcoming elections, even in places where they are very likely to lose. That’s the chatter right now, anyway. It all may change when final numbers come in and there is less speculation.

2:07pm: Let’s hope this means those final two hours see a surge in after-work voting…

1:59pm:  This election marks the first time that many former felons who have served their time will be allowed to vote in Virginia. The state is one of 4 in the country where a felony means you lose voting rights for the rest of your life. Governor Terry McAuliffe issued a blanket order changing that, but Republicans successfully sued to block the order. The Governor’s office then started handing back voting rights individually to those who had completed their sentence and parole (instead of issuing a blanket order). All told, around 142,000 felons had their rights restored, and about 42,000 were registered to vote in this election.

NOTE: More than half of those who re-gained the right to vote are African American. Amazingly, 1 in 5 black Virginians are barred from voting because of their criminal record.

1:49pm: More turnout stuff and whatnot. It may or may not mean anything. If you are a Northam supporter and want to believe it means that Ds are turning out hot. Do it. Whatever calms the nerves. 🙂

1:38pm: It’s been raining most of the morning here in Winchester, VA. But, as this points out, rain is usually the biggest factor in rural areas where precincts are not walkable. Research is torn on this. Some show that rain is clearly factor. And others show that rain is not as much of a factor in competitive races. Though, I will say it looks ominous that the clouds seems to snake from Richmond to Charlottesville to NoVA—all of Northam’s strongholds.

1:25pm: We’re not doing too shabby…

1:14pm: With all talk about turnout in NoVA, some Republicans are suggesting things are more complicated. There is reason to think that Gillespie will outperform Trump & Cuchinelli, particularly in some fiscally conservative parts of NoVA. His lobbyist, DC-insider cred is not a liability in those areas filled with government contractors. Of course, he ran full on Trumpian during the campaign, but his reputation may help him. It may come down to whether small gains in NoVA (though he’ll still lose there overall) are able to off-set potential decreases in support in the traditionally red areas of rural Virginia from less enthusiasm (though he’ll still win there overall).

1:05pm: Here’s a fascinating look at young voter turnout numbers. It’s updated throughout the day, with first numbers added a half hour ago…Millennial Indicator Precincts.

12:40pm: More turnout updates. Take with a grain of salt… (for those not familiar with VA: Alexandria/Arlington/NoVA/Fairfax/ are liberal population centers).


12:15pm:  Hourly reminder to avoid late night panic. Four years ago, Republican Ken Cuccinelli lead by 2.5% with 76% of the vote reported. He ended up losing to Democrat McAuliffe by 2.5%. The last quarter of the vote that comes in is likely to be significantly Democratic.

12:11pm: This is real. The President’s son has twice now tweeted about voting…tomorrow (the day after the election). Good lord.

12:05pm: If you follow just one Virginia House of Delegates race tonight. Make it this one

The most sensational race is unfolding in the 13th District, based in some of Northern Virginia’s most rapidly diversifying outer suburbs. Republican Del. Robert Marshall, a 25-year incumbent and an outspoken social conservative, faces well-funded Democrat Danica Roem, a local journalist and transgender woman. Marshall has refused to acknowledge Roem as a female.

12:00pm: We made it to the afternoon! Those not in a voting state today are likely most interested in the results to see which way the winds are blowing for 2018 Congressional races. The VA governor’s race is gobbling attention, but a better indicator is likely the VA General Assembly. That’s because they are based less on personality and more on general party swings

Virginia’s delegate races have often foreshadowed midterm results: In 2009, the GOP’s six-seat gain took Democrats by surprise and presaged Republicans picking up the House in 2010.

This year, if Democrats pick up fewer than five GOP-held seats, Republicans would probably take it as a relief. If Democrats pick up between five and 10 seats, it would confirm the House is in play. If Democrats surprise and gain 10 or more seats, it would be a sign they are probably on track to take back the House next year.


11:48am: Some things never change. On the odd chance that you get this call, ignore it.

11:40am: Whatever happens, it won’t be a money thing. Northam and Gillespie spent about the same on the race, about $19 million each.

11:25am: Note of caution for Northam supporters. Don’t panic early. The largest population centers (and biggest pool of votes for Northam), almost always report their results last. It is likely that Gillespie will look like he’s winning in returns for most of the night. Last year, Trump appeared ahead for hours after returns came in. BUT, Hillary ended up winning Virginia by 5%. Drama drama drama.

11:10am: To ensure the pessimists have their due, here is a scary (for Democrats) point made yesterday about how the polls have overestimated Democratic support on election day in years past. If these trends carry over to this year, Gillespie would win.

11:05am: We are getting first real turnout claims now. Twitter is aflutter with suggestions of very strong turnout in Northern Virginia areas (particularly Fairfax). That would obviously be good news for Northam. However, take ten deep breaths before letting it soak in. News of “record turnout” are made virtually every year, and it often evens out by the end.


11am:  Why is there such variation between polls? For one, statistically, there is always a margin of error. Methodologically, most of it triggers on what samples the pollster is using. They could be pulling in “registered” voters (many of whom don’t vote) or  “likely” voters. Likely voters are obviously a better pool, but determining who is a likely voter is not an exact science. Each pollster looks at different data and makes different choices to decide who is likely to vote. They then only call those people. When calling, they also ask the person directly how likely they are to vote. It’s all combined into some secret sauce to yield the final results.

Here is a good analysis of it…

This suggests that Northam’s supporters are more motivated to vote.

But among voters who say they voted in the last election for governor in 2013, Northam’s margin is just plus-two on the telephone poll, plus-four on the online survey. This suggests that Gillespie has an edge among habitual voters who are likely to vote in a low-turnout contest.

In other words, Northam have more supporters who say that they will vote today. BUT, when looking only at past voting history, Gillespie draws to almost a tie. It all may hinge on whether the people who claim to support for Northam actually get to the polls. 


10:25am: Probably more important than primary figures (but much harder to analyze) are the early/absentee votes. Here’s what we know:

  1. There was a surge in early voting in Virginia this election. For example, Fairfax County (by far the most populous in the state) had 41,751 early votes this year. Four years ago they only had 25,659. That is a huge jump. There are similar increases in counties throughout the state.
  2. We don’t know who those early votes are for. But, we can get an idea of who is being helped most by them depending on which parts of the state are seeing the largest early voting jump. Northam is expected to do well in all urban and suburban areas: NoVa, Richmond, etc.
  3. It seems like those suburban and urban areas (like Fairfax) are showing the biggest jump in early voting.  That would suggest that Northam is benefiting most. The idea is that the enthusiasm for early voting will also carry over into more enthusiasm in those same areas for voting on election day itself.

In short, if you wanted to read any tea leaves from the total absentee votes, then it bodes well for Northam. HOWEVER, this sort of early voting analysis is often wrong, and it definitely should not be taken as a strong predictor.

10:10am: Early on election day, most prognostication is based on random old numbers. Polls are obviously the big one. But there are other things to look at. Consider the primary election figures. This can be a gauge for the enthusiasm for each side. The takeaway from the June primary was that Democrats were significantly more enthused than Republicans.

Democratic turnout in that primary was 170% higher than in the previous election. Also, many more Democrats turned out versus Republicans — 543,000 vs. 366,000. Both races were contested, and the Republican race was actually much closer (which should have increased turnout). In other words, coming out of June, it seemed like the Democratic base was much more eager to cast ballots. If that carries over today, then Northam should clearly win.

9:25am: Yesterday, 538 released the best article yet summarizing the numbers side of the VA race. It includes a county by county analysis to follow along as results come in to see how Gillespie is performing as compared to previous candidates. That will be the best indicator of the state of things as the night goes on.

9:05am: The state of the VA Governor’s race on election day. Five final polls were released yesterday, here are the results:


Virginia Governor – Gillespie vs. Northam Monmouth* Northam 47, Gillespie 45 Northam +2
Virginia Governor – Gillespie vs. Northam FOX News* Northam 48, Gillespie 43 Northam +5
Virginia Governor – Gillespie vs. Northam Quinnipiac* Northam 51, Gillespie 42 Northam +9
Virginia Governor – Gillespie vs. Northam The Polling Company (R) Northam 47, Gillespie 46 Northam +1
Virginia Governor – Gillespie vs. Northam Christopher Newport Univ.* Northam 51, Gillespie 45 Northam +6


8:30am: Most of this live-blog will be about the horse-race…who seems to be winning and losing at any given moment. I admit that is kind of grotesque, because there are very real issues and ideas that will affect actual lives depending on the results. That is what matters, not the adrenaline rush of your side being up or down. But with that disclaimer aside, I’ll be ranting about whose up or down.

7:55am: Most talk has been about the Virginia Governor’s race. Yet, there’s a lot more for political nerds to pay attention to. They all matter locally, but the trends tonight will impact the entire country:

  1. New Jersey Governor – The Democrat is expected to win, but by how much?
  2. Virginia General Assembly – The Republicans are one seat away from a veto-proof majority in Senate, and have a stranglehold on House. Can the Democrats flip some seats? Will that be mirrored in other states in 2018?
  3. Utah Special Senate Election – Can a third party gain momentum? Unhappy moderates in Utah formed a 3rd party “United Utah,” and are running a candidate to replace retiring Republican Jason Chaffetz. The Republican will win the seat, but how much support will this new group have? Remember, a shocking 23% of Utah residents voted for 3rd party candidate Evan McMullin in the presidential election.
  4. Maine Healthcare Expansion Ballot Initiative – Maine’s governor has vetoed Medicaid expansion five times. But now the people have a chance to vote to override him. No state has
    taken advantage of the Medicaid expansion option in the Affordable Care Act via ballot initiative. This is the first test.  In other words, when the public has the option to vote directly on ACA expansion, how does it go?
  5. Control of Washington State Senate – State governments typically make more decisions that affect people’s lives than the federal government. In Washington state, a single special election today will decide which party controls the Senate. Like all of today’s races, it will also be used as an omen to determine which party has the advantage going into the 2018 election.

7:15am: Rick Gates–recently arrested in the Mueller probe for, among other things, Conspiracy Against the United States–was granted temporary release from house arrest so that he could go vote….for Republican Ed Gillespie.  There is really no excuse to sit this out. Just do it. 

7am: Voted. Whew. That is a load off. My work for the day is mostly done. Fellow Virginians, please do the same. I promise, you’ll feel like a stack of bricks has been lifted from your straining back and the clouds will begin to part as a ray of sunny warmth bathes your face. Reminder: You must present an ID to vote. Many different IDs work, AND you can still use them a year after they are expired. Curious about your polling place? Look HERE.



Dear Virginia, The Nation is Counting on Us. Let’s Not Blow It.

Dear Virginia-

It’s almost here: election day. On Tuesday we’ll be picking city officials and all state officers. Most eyes, however, are on a single race: Governor. Democrat Ralph Northam v. Republican Ed Gillespie. The last polls have the race tied. But this election is about more than Virginia.

Ralph Northam is the best candidate to lead the state. He is a soft-spoken pediatric neurologist, Army veteran, and supremely decent human being. He will act fairly and hold the high tide of crazy at bay.

But the results will ripple beyond state borders. They’ll echo across the country and may affect every aspect of policy and politics in the United States.

Here’s why:

  1. This VA governor’s race is the first major election in a “purple” place where a moderate is facing a candidate who has gone full-on Trump.
  2. It will be considered the barometer of the political value of embracing the president’s rhetoric. Will following along with Trump help you or hurt you politically as a Republican?
  3. The group of people who can stop the current national madness are reasonable Republican members of Congress. (We can’t do anything about the lunatics right now).
  4. Those moderate Rs will decide the fate of the tax bill, healthcare, court appointments, and responses to anything that the Mueller investigation uncovers.
  5. When casting votes, they won’t make their decision with brave, moral clarity. They will base it on how it affects their prospect at re-election.
  6. If the political winds suggest that you can embrace Trumpism and win, even in a balanced place like Virginia…then they will be far more likely to embrace it. They will avoid rocking the boat and let the madness play on.
  7. BUT, if the winds suggest otherwise—that the fever is beginning to break and moderate fairness is back in style—then they may find stiffness in their spines to say NO to the crazier developments that are undoubtedly down the pike.

This is a very long way of saying: For the Love of God, if You Live in Virginia, Please Please Please Vote on Tuesday.  

The two sides are not persuading each other right now, they are simply trying to out-hustle each other. It is all about turnout. We cannot let crazy out-maneuver reasonableness.

Tell yourself, tell your spouse, tell your roommate, your co-workers, your parents, and anyone else who is not under the spell. Please tell them that this is not a time to sit out and see what happens. It’s a time to push back.

Photo Credit: Ania Mendrek Flickr via Compfight cc

Lincoln…The Know-Nothings…Trump

There is an old Trump Tweet for everything these days.  Twitter users share those archived messages with glee each week.

I’m proposing a corollary: There is an old Lincoln quote for everything these days.

Consider this one, written to his best friend Joseph Speed in the early 1850s. This was inked as a private citizen, without any clear political future. That he would be President of the United States less than a decade later was laughable. He was sitting alone in his office, watching the growth of a nativist political party, and worrying for his country…

“Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it, ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.’ When it comes to this, I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty–Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, without the base alloy of hypocrisy.”



Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/78156590@N04/30286296555/”>dustinbattfilm</a&gt; Flickr via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Something We Can All Agree On – We Want to Stay Alive

I’m naive, but I still believe that most Americans agree on many basic things. We’ve forgotten that recently, because we voted for different people in November. But we can figure this out together.

The only thing about politics that truly matters are the actual policies that are enacted. The rest is noise.

No policy impacts you and I more than healthcare–by definition, it is life and death. Please give serious thought to the Republican healthcare bill that is inching closer to becoming law.    Senate Tax 2

Do not be fooled by the nonsense talking points that you’ll hear about this legislation. It is downright disgraceful:

1) No, you will not be getting a tax break–unless you are already wealthy. This proposal calls for massive tax cuts (almost $1 trillion), but it will go to the richest among us. 

2) No, you will not get better coverage for less money. Some premiums may go down–but only for those who are young without any health issues. Even then, your insurance will cover fewer things and may have a higher deductible.

3) Yes, many Americans will be completely screwed. If you are older, have existing health problems, or disabled you will receive worse insurance (if any at all) and pay much more.

Some believe that it is not the government’s job to ensure everyone has access to healthcare. It’s their political philosophy. That is why they have no problem giving money to the wealthiest and cutting support to the sickest and poorest.   

If you disagree with that principle, please be vocal, oppose this bill, and demand accountability–no matter who you voted for in November.

Being Right Doesn’t Matter in Right Now. Winning Does.

It seems like we are getting closer to a knock-out. Left jab lands. Right hooks connects. Trump is reeling and feeling woozy on the ropes. It’s only a matter of time until he collapses in the ring, and victory is proclaimed. Right? Not quite.

Politics isn’t boxing. Those of us outraged, saddened, disgusted, terrified, and embarrassed by the current administration need to land many more punches before this national nightmare is over.machiavelli

Everything hinges on Congress. Democrats are united in opposition, but Republicans control both chambers. In other words, Republican members of the House and Senate matter most. We have two options:

  • Option #1: We vote and give Democrats control of Congress.
  • Option #2: Enough Republicans stand up to Trump’s nonsense and, if appropriate, force him out of office.

ossofOf course, we cannot vote again until November of 2018. That is almost 20 months from now. Can we make it that long? For perspective, Trump has only been President for 4 months. Option #1 is slow.

Right now, we need to focus on Option #2. But what can any of us do to influence Republicans?  As much as we’d like to appeal to their reason, sense of principle, and putting country first—-that doesn’t do much. Members of Congress will respond to one thing: keeping their seat. They must believe that they have a better chance at keeping their seat if they stand up to Trump.

The traditional advocacy actions help on that front: Calling their office on controversial bills; Showing up at town halls; Participating in marches. But Republican members of Congress can discount those efforts. After all, there was a mountain of anger at Trump before November, and yet Republicans still won seats. Why is the anger different now? 

quistWe have to demonstrate that it’s different now. Literally show them that the anger translates into votes. Give them an example of a Democrat winning a seat that Republicans used to hold, and the game changes.

It can be done as early as next week.

Two special Congressional elections are on the way.  Absolutely nothing will be watched more closely by wavering Republicans than the outcome of those races. Much more attention needs to be focused on them.

May 25th – Montana Special Election –  You can donate to Rob Quist, the D candidate here

June 20th – Georgia Special Election – Donate to Jon Ossof, the D candidate here

Winning these elections, and/or making them as close as possible, is the single most important thing we can do right now to steer our national ship away from the iceberg. As you watch all the new developments related to Comey’s memos and Russia– keep your eye on these dates. Donate, call, and do everything you can–big or small–to influence these races.

Spread the word.