Scott Shuey and Ed Clowes from the Gulf News Business Desk bring you all the latest on the bitterly-contested, crucial US midterm elections.
It all goes as predicted – more or less
Despite some doubts midway through the evening, it appears the US 2018 midterm elections will go down as predicted.
Republicans will hold the Senate, and Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives. Election night isn’t over, but all that’s left to decide is the margins.
Democrats will likely pick up 34 seats in the House, 11 more than the 23 seats they needed. That number could fluctuate as results continue to come in, but with the majority of remaining votes coming from the heavily blue West Coast, all of the major US networks and analysts are calling it a victory for the Democrats. Nancy Pelosi will likely return to her role as Speak of the House, replacing retiring Speaker Paul Ryan.
Republicans walked away from election night with perhaps one more Senate seat that they expected after victories in Texas, Missouri, and Florida.
This likely means trouble for US President Donald Trump. Democrats had threatened to investigate Trump on multiple fronts if they took the House and impeach hearings will probably be discussed. However, even if Trump is impeached, it is unlikely he would be removed from office due to Republican control of the Senate.
Democrats take the House – CNN
CNN is projecting that Democrats will win a majority in the US House of Representatives. Democrats needed to pick up 23 votes to gain a majority. CNN made the call before polls had closed in California, Oregon and Washington, which are generally viewed as Democratic strongholds. Fivethirtyeight.com is predicting that Democrats will finish the night by taking 36 seats away from Republicans, which will give them a 231 seat majority to a Republican’s 204 seats.
Republicans have retained control of the US Senate: AP
The Republicans have won the necessary seats in the Senate to retain a majority, ensuring control of the upper chamber until 2020.
Cruz holds Texas
Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has defeated Beto O’Rourke in one of this year’s most watched races. O’Rourke was originally consider a longshot for the Senate seat, but his ability to raise funds caused some concern among Republicans. In the third quarter, he raised $38 million, three times what Cruz raised, but ultimately he failed to sway voters in the heavily conservative state. Cruz won the night with almost 3.4 million votes to O’Rourke’s 3.1 million. He is still considered a likely candidate for the 2020 presidential campaign.
On Tuesday night the US elected its first Muslim women to the US House of Representatives. Rashida Tlaib, running in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District, will fill the seat vacated by John Conyers, who stepped down last December. She is a Palestinian-American lawyer who currently serves in the state legislature.
There is a big chance that Tlaib will be joined in the House by Ilhan Omar, a Somali-American candidate from Minnesota, who serves in the Minnesota House of Representatives. She became the first Somali-American legislator elected to office in the United States in 2016. With 69 per cent of precincts reporting, Omar leads with 192,352 votes against Jennifer Zielinski who currently has 47,530 votes.
Ocasio-Cortez becomes youngest woman in Congress
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is predicted to win the race in New York’s 14th congressional district, becoming the youngest woman in Congress at just 29.
Ocasio-Cortez garnered attention during the summer for her surprising primary victory.
Barr pulls out win in Kentucky
Republican Andy Barr has pulled out a win in Kentucky’s 6th District against Democrat Amy McGrath. The race had been seen as a bellwether in national elections, with McGrath, a progressive and former combat pilot, losing to Barr 138,453 to 147,025.
People cast their ballots in the midterm election at William Ford Elementary School in Dearborn, Michigan, U.S. November 6, 2018. Reuters
Florida moves to restore voting rights of felons
Away from the ups and downs of the election results, some news from Florida: The state has voted to restore voting rights to former felons have served their sentences, passing Amendment 4. The move will impact around 1.5 million residents of Florida.
Over 4.7 million people voted in favour of approving the measure.
Searches for ‘US elections’ spike in UAE over past hour
A graph of searches for ‘US elections’ on Google.
Dems steal a seat: Video analysis
Nate Silver cuts forecast for Democrats
fivethirtyeight.com, the website run by American statistician Nate Silver, has cut its prediction for Democrats winning the US House of Representatives to 53.8 per cent. The site had given Democrats a 85 per cent chance before polls opened, but at one point in the evening the odds had dropped to as little as 38 per cent. The site is currently predicting Democrats win 27 seats, which would give them control of the House. (UPDATE: the site just raised the odds to 63.9 per cent)
However, the site gives Republicans an 97.4 percent chance of holding onto the U.S. Senate, despite Democrat Beto O’Rourke currently leading Republican Ted Cruz in the Texas Senate race.
Kentucky’s 6th District still close
One of the more closely watched House races may go down to the wire. Democrat Amy McGrath, a former Marine pilot, is currently leading Republican Andy Barr in Kentucky’s 6th district. McGrath has been labelled too progressive by Barr, but she currently holds a slight lead with 100,339 to Barr’s 99,738.
Has the ‘Blue Wave’ begun?
Democrats have scored their first flip of the night, with the party stealing a House seat from incumbent Representative Barbara Comstock, with Democrat Jennifer Wexton winning victory in Virginia.
The seat was predicted to go Democrat, but is viewed as a bellwether and may begin what many have called the Blue Wave of Democrat victories in the House of Representatives.
Video analysis: Early projected winners
First projected winners
We have our first projected winners of the evening. Independent Bernie Sanders, who challenged Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for President in 2016, will hold on to his U.S. Senate seat in Vermont, and Tim Kaine, the Democrat’s Vice-President nominee in 2016, will hold on to his seat in Virginia.
Senate races in Florida and Indiana are still too close to call.
House races are also beginning to come in. Currently 11 Republican and 11 Democrats are predicted to have won their races across Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
People hold signs during a rally and march at Grant Park on October 13, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois to inspire voter turnout ahead of midterm polls in the United States. AFP
So why does this election matter?
At stake is a congress that can hold Trump to account in a way that Republicans haven’t up until this point.
If the Democrats are able to wrest control of the House of Representatives from the Republicans, a move that is seen as being statically likely, then we could see congressional investigations in to a number of pertinent issues.
Subjects that could come under scrutiny with the Democrats in charge include Trump’s business dealings, his family’s ties to Russia, allegations of money laundering, and the government’s slow response to Hurricane Maria, which killed over 3,000 people and caused widespread devastation in Puerto Rico.
Observers say that the Democrats probably already have a list of subjects they intend to probe, should they win tonight.
Elsewhere in the gubernatorial races, if the Democrats are able to find some success, experts say we might see an expansion of Medicaid, potentially benefitting hundreds of thousands of Americans.
Structural voting reform is also on the line, with the issues of gerrymandering, voter suppression, and congressional boundaries becoming hot-button topics in the build up to this election.
If the Democrats are able to secure a majority in the state houses, otherwise known as the governor races, then we could see a number of ballot initiatives and political reforms tabled, changing the way people vote.
With low voter turnout historically tending to favour the Republicans, this is an issue that the Democrats are taking very seriously.
Video analysis: Early exit polls
First polls close in 1 hour
Here’s how the next couple of hours are going to play out. At 3am (GMT+4) the polls will close in Kentucky and Indiana.
In Kentucky, four out of the six House seats are expected to go to the GOP, one will likely go to a Democrat, and another — the 6th District — is where we might see an indicator of things to come.
Amy McGrath, a former Marine combat pilot, is challenging Republican Andy Barr, the incumbent. McGrath is being portrayed as too progressive by Barr, so a loss by the Republican could be viewed as a significant shift in momentum towards the Democrats.
Indiana’s Senate race between Democrat Joe Donnelly and Republican Mike Braun will also be one to watch. Donnelly was ahead in the polls heading into today.
In Indiana, seven of the state’s House seats were expect to go the GOP, while two would go the Democrats.
None of those predications in Indiana would indicate any chance in control for either party. Kentucky and Indiana both went to President Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
At 4am (GMT+4) we will see the polls close in a number of states, including: Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, New Hampshire and Vermont. A half hour later, polls in Ohio, W. Virginia, and North Carolina will also close.
Video: Spotlight on voter fraud
Video: A look at the Senate race
A fighter, a spy, and an underwear model: Tonight’s most interesting candidates
You often hear complaints that robotic career politicians don’t have any real world experience, and lack a human touch. This year’s midterm elections in the US look set to mark a departure from cookie cutter politicians, with a kaleidoscope of unique characters from an incredibly diverse set of backgrounds running for office tonight.
Democrat Abigail Spanberger is a 39 year old former CIA operative who is running for Virginia’s 7th congressional district.
She’s been reticent to talk about her history with the spy agency for obvious reasons, but she’s also said she doesn’t want to spook people.
Spanberger is not the only military women on the ballot on Tuesday night.
Kentucky’s 6th District features one of the marquee House races of the night. If Democrat Amy McGrath, a former Marine fighter pilot, manages to unseat Republican Andy Barr after the polls close at the early time of 6pm EST, it could presage a strong Democratic night, says FiveThirtyEight, a data journalism website best known for its election forecasts.
But, they add, if Barr wins by a comfortable margin, Republicans will feel better about their chances to retain a narrow majority.
McGrath isn’t the only female fighter pilot running: Former pilot Martha McSally, a two-term Republican representative from Arizona, is running for Senate in the state.
McSally is the first US female fighter pilot to fly in combat and the first to command a fighter squadron, serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
To continue the trend of interesting women running for office, student Hadiya Afzal is a candidate for DuPage County Board, District 4 at the age of just 19.
Afzal is campaigning on a platform of better public transportation, preserving the environment, and fixing the opioid crisis.
She’s not the only young person in the race: Kathering Kerwin, Brett Ries, and Morgan Zegers are all 21.
You must be at least 25 to serve legally in the House, and 30 to serve in the Senate.
The age gape between US government representatives and those they represent is huge. Adults under 30 make up nearly 22 per cent of voting-aged citizens in the United States, yet they are completely underrepresented at all levels of government.
So who else is running with an interesting backstory?
Well, there’s Democrat Sharice Davids, who could become the first Native-American woman elected to Congress.
She is a gay ex-mixed martial arts fighter running in Kansas’s third congressional district. A member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, Davids was raised by a single mother who worked as a drill sergeant, and has a law degree from a top US university, according to the BBC.
She won her first mixed martial arts fight in November 2013, but turned her focus to politics after she was rejected by the UFC, a premiere MMA league.
And who could forget the underwear model campaigning for Trump?
Former Calvin Klein model Antonio Sabato Jr, now a TV actor, is the Trump-supporting Republican candidate in California’s 26th district.
Sabato is most famous now for his belief that Barack Obama was a Muslim.
“If he’s not a Muslim, we should call him President Barry,” he once said.
Video: A look at the house race
Complaints about voting suppression continue in Georgia
There have been a number of complaints from voters in Georgia complaining that voting station either don’t have voting machines or that the machines don’t have power cords.
No power cords for voting machines in African American majority neighborhood in Georgia. This is a disgrace. I don’t believe in coincidences. Everyone should assume this is all orchestrated by Kemp. Who’s the biggest cheater in Georgia politics in years. pic.twitter.com/zmv24R7TJ3— Scott Dworkin (@funder) November 6, 2018
If you are in Georgia and your polling location doesn’t have any voting machines or doesn’t have enough, call this number immediately.
They can ensure you get more machines there right away.
Ready to wait? Hundreds of voters stand in line for hours this morning at this SW Atlanta polling place. Only three voting machines! What’s going on here? Live report at noon. pic.twitter.com/lewTPUZnf1— Tom Regan (@tomreganWSB) November 6, 2018
The gubernatorial election in Georgia between Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp, currently the state’s Secretary of State, has been a particularly contentious one. If Abrams wins she would become the first female of African descent in the US to be elected as governor. Georgia is a former slave state, and racial tensions are a long standing issue.
The race has been marked by accusations of voter suppression. Kemp, in his role as Secretary of State, has removed more that half a million voters from the states registry. Just a few days before the election, a US district court judge ruled that Georgia’s current voting procedures were too restrictive.
Video: Most contentious US election in decades
New cultural era in politics?
Many have called it a new cultural era in politics, with a record number of women running alongside Muslims, Latinos, Native Americans, immigrants and LGBT candidates.
There is a chance that America could elect as many as three black governors tonight, including two in southern states that once were part of the Confederacy.
Arizona will see a woman represent it in the senate for the first time, regardless of who wins the tight race.
And Colorado could elect the country’s first ever openly gay male governor.
Elsewhere, close to 100 Muslim candidates have filed to run for elected office this year. In 2016, only 12 or so ran.
Many Muslims have been galvanised by what they see as President Donald Trump’s open hostility toward them, which they say is exemplified by his travel ban on a number of Muslim nations.
According to an analysis by the New York Times, white men make up the smallest share of House, Senate and gubernatorial candidates in four elections.
In one of the most bitter campaigns in recent times, minority candidates have been targeted by racist abuse, as attack ads and race-baiting allegations have served to set the tone in the build up to election night.
A long night ahead…
Dubai: Welcome to Gulf News’ coverage of the 2018 US midterm elections.
Ed Clowes and I will be bringing you the latest news on the election for the rest of the evening.
Throughout the night we’ll be bring you results on the US House of Representatives, the US Senate and select races for state governor.
It’s going to be a long night, so please don’t expect early answers.
The polls don’t close until 8 pm or later in the US, depending on the state, which means we won’t start seeing results until 3am (GMT +4).
Even then, the initial results will only be from the East Coast. The last polls in Alaska won’t close until almost noon (GMT +4) on Wednesday, Noveember 7.
But we’ll likely have a much clearer image on how the elections are progressing before then.
Why would we give up a night of sleep to do this? Simple.
This is one of the most contentious elections in years and it will have tremendous international implications, especially for the global economy, including in the Middle East.
So check back here regularly for the latest news. If you have questions for us, you can reach me, Scott Shuey, on Twitter at @scottshuey and you can reach Ed Clowes at @edclowes.