More victories for Democrats
Democrats took three more victories in key swing states as results continued to trickle in early Wednesday.
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers won a second term in office, positioning himself as a check on Republican power in the state. Evers often touted the fact that he vetoed more than 120 GOP-backed bills that would have broadened gun rights, limited access to abortion and made it harder to cast absentee ballots.
In Michigan, Democrat Hillary Scholten won a congressional seat being vacated by a Republican who voted to impeach Donald Trump. Scholten defeated John Gibbs, who ousted first-term Rep. Peter Meijer in the August GOP primary.
In New Mexico, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham won re-election against Republican Mark Ronchetti, a former television weatherman.
-Staff, Associated Press
Voting snag in Arizona fuels election conspiracy theories
A printing malfunction at about one-quarter of the polling places across Arizona’s most populous county slowed down voting Tuesday, but election officials assured voters that every ballot would be counted.
Still, the issue at 60 of 223 vote centers in Maricopa County gave rise to conspiracy theories about the integrity of the vote in the pivotal state. Former President Donald Trump, Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and others weighed in to claim that Democrats were trying to subvert the vote of Republicans, who tend to show up in greater numbers in person on Election Day.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Timothy Ryan denied a request from Republicans to keep the polls open, saying that he didn’t see evidence that people were not allowed to vote.
At issue were printers that were not producing dark enough markings on the ballots, which required election officials to change the printer settings. Until then, some voters who tried to insert their ballots into voting tabulators were forced to wait and use other machines or were told they could leave their ballots in a drop box. Those votes were expected to be counted Wednesday.
‘Definitely not a Republican wave,’ but Republicans favoured to win control of the House of Representatives
With polls closed across the country, Republicans were favoured to wrest control of the U.S. House of Representatives from President Joe Biden’s Democrats based on early returns, though the prospects of a “red wave” in which they picked up dozens of seats appeared to have dimmed.
Republicans had flipped four Democratic seats in the U.S. House, Edison Research projected, one fewer than they would need to capture a majority and cripple Biden’s legislative agenda.
But that number could change as 100 of the 435 House races had yet to be called, including some with vulnerable Republican incumbents.
Pivotal Senate races in Nevada, Georgia and Arizona all looked like toss-ups. The Georgia race could end up in a Dec. 6 runoff, possibly with the Senate at stake. Democrats currently control the 50-50 Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris able to break any ties.
Early results suggested Democrats would avoid the type of wipeout election that some in the party had feared, given Biden’s sagging approval rating and voter frustration over inflation.
“Definitely not a Republican wave, that’s for darn sure,” Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham told NBC in an interview. He held out hope that the party would take a majority in the Senate: “I think we’re going to be at 51, 52, when it’s all said and done.”
Even a narrow Republican majority in the House would be able to block Biden’s priorities while launching politically damaging investigations into his administration and family.
In addition to every House seat, 35 Senate seats and three dozen governors’ races are on the ballot.
The final outcome of the congressional races is unlikely to be known any time soon. More than 46 million Americans voted ahead of Election Day, either by mail or in person, according to data from the U.S. Election Project, and state election officials caution that counting those ballots will take time.
Profane rhetoric on stage in Arizona
The rhetoric is profane and belligerent, the bite of right-wing radio brought to a political stage. Arizona’s Republicans have drawn international attention for their allegiance to Donald Trump-style politics.
On election night, as early results pointed to a strong performance by Democrats in the state, they showed they have adopted his ways of speaking, too.
“We have remade this party in our image, the image of freedom-lovers, of liberty-lovers who aren’t going to take any crap,” said Kelli Ward, the far right chair of Arizona’s Republican Party.
Nancy Pelosi is “losing the gavel but finding the hammer,” Trump-endorsed Congressman Andy Biggs told the crowd gathered at a Scottsdale resort for a Republican election night party, drawing a roar of laughter for a joke about a violent attack on Ms. Pelosi’s husband, Paul.
President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden belongs “in jail,” added Benny Johnson, a Newsmax host close to Mr. Trump who came to Arizona on election night. He took to the stage in front of a room filled with cheering Republican Party faithful.
On the problems with voting tabulators that were plagued with errors in Arizona’s Maricopa County: “Are you guys sick of the shenanigans? Are you sick of the fraud?”
On Beto O’Rourke, the Democrat who failed to unseat Republican Greg Abbott as governor of Texas: “What a loser. … Sorry, libs. Sucks to suck.”
On Joe Biden: “There’s a lost child, very, very old – lives in the White House, thinks he’s president. Has a very dirty diaper.”
On Anthony Fauci, the chief White House medical advisor: “Did anybody lock him up?”
Dr. Fauci, who guided the White House through its pandemic response, has become one of the favoured enemies of the American right, which blames him for lockdowns and mask mandates. “It’s time Dr. Fauci is held accountable,” Abraham Hamadeh, the Republican candidate for attorney general, said at a recent campaign event.
“We want retribution.”
– Nathan VanderKlippe
Consequential gubernatorial races
Thirty-six of the 50 states are electing governors in the midterm elections. Results from the most consequential gubernatorial races started to trickle in as polls closed on Tuesday:
Results from the most consequential gubernatorial races started to trickle in as polls closed:
- Arkansas: Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the former White House Press Secretary for Donald Trump, was elected governor in Arkansas. She became the first woman to hold that office in the state, and the highest-profile member of the Trump administration to win an election. Ms. Sanders succeeds a Republican incumbent, who is leaving office owing to term limits. Ms. Sanders is also the daughter of former Gov. Mike Huckabee, making her a mainstay figure in state politics.
- New York: Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul defended her seat against Republican challenger Lee Zeldin, a congressman from Long Island, after a race that tightened in recent weeks.
- Georgia: Republican Governor Brian Kemp fended off Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams in a rematch of the close 2018 gubernatorial election, winning by a wider margin with the benefit of incumbency.
- Pennsylvania: Democratic Attorney General, Josh Shapiro, won the state’s gubernatorial election against Republican state Senator Doug Mastriano, who had echoed Trump’s false claims of voter fraud and was present at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
- Texas: Republican Governor Greg Abbott easily won a third term, defeating his Democratic challenger, former U.S. congressman Beto O’Rourke.
- Florida: Ron DeSantis, the Republican Gov. of Florida, won re-election for a second term, solidifying his status as a rising star within the GOP and a potential bidder for the presidency in 2024. This could put him on a collision course with Mr. Trump, who says he’s making a “big announcement” next week.
- Massachusetts: The Democrats’ Maura Healey was elected governor of Massachusetts, becoming the first woman and first openly gay person elected to that office.
- Maine: Democratic Maine Governor Janet Mills won a second term by defeating Republican Paul LePage, who served as governor of the state from 2011 to 2019. Mills ran on a platform that emphasized health care, especially her support for abortion rights in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned the constitutional right to abortion.
- Michigan: Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer made protecting abortion access in Michigan a central theme of her successful re-election campaign against Republican opponent, Trump-backed conservative commentator Tudor Dixon.
- New Mexico: Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham won re-election against Republican Mark Ronchetti, a former television weatherman.
Too close or too early to call
- Arizona: Widely seen as one of the closest gubernatorial races in the country, the contest for Arizona’s open governorship pits Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, against former news anchor Kari Lake, a Republican. Several recent polls show Lake leading Hobbs by a small margin.
- Kansas: Democratic Governor Laura Kelly is being challenged by Republican Derek Schmidt for the only governorship Democrats are defending in a state won by Trump in 2020.
- Maryland: Wes Moore was elected Maryland’s first Black governor on Tuesday, defeating Republican Dan Cox. Prior to his victory, only two Black politicians have been elected governor in the United States, the Associated Press reported.
- Nevada: Incumbent Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, has emphasized the protection of legal abortion in his campaign for a second term, against Republican Joe Lombardo.
- Oregon: In a close three-way race, Democrat Tina Kotek is squaring off against Republican Christine Drazan and a strong independent candidate, Betsy Johnson.
Other Republican victories: Wyoming, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, Alabama, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Nebraska, Vermont, New Hampshire and Idaho.
Other Democratic victories: Colorado, Rhode Island, Illinois, New Mexico, California and Wisconsin.
– Matt Lundy
J.D. Vance wins Senate race in Ohio
Republican J.D. Vance won Ohio’s U.S. Senate race in Tuesday’s midterm elections.
Maryland legalizes marijuana
Residents of Maryland voted overwhelmingly to legalize the possession and use of cannabis.
Similar measures are on the ballot in four other states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Arkansas and Missouri. Thus far, legalization is slightly ahead in Missouri, but voters are against the reform in the other three states.
In Colorado, with about 60 per cent of votes counted, a slim majority of voters are in favour of decriminalizing the use of certain psychedelic plants and fungi, such as psilocybin (magic mushrooms).
Gavin Newsom wins second term as governor of California
Democrat Gavin Newsom easily won a second term as California’s governor, beating a little-known Republican state senator by mostly ignoring him while campaigning against the policies of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, two leading Republicans who like Newsom may run for president.
It was the second decisive statewide victory for Newsom in barely a year. In September 2021, he easily beat back an attempt to kick him out of office that was fueled by anger over his pandemic policies. The failed recall solidified Newsom’s political power in California, leaving him free to focus on the future — which many expect will include a run for the White House.
– The Associated Press
Control of Congress unclear in tight U.S. midterm elections
The battle for control of U.S. Congress and the governorships of key swing states remained deadlocked Tuesday night amid a slew of tight races whose outcomes will determine the fate of President Joe Biden’s agenda.
With a wave of election deniers running for office, several Republican lawsuits aimed at disqualifying swaths of mail-in ballots and tens of millions of votes left to count, the final results could be fought over for weeks.
A long list of major issues is at stake in the most consequential midterms in decades, with inflation, abortion, undocumented immigration, crime and voting rights all on the ballot. Candidates, parties and campaign groups have poured a record US$16.7-billion into the election.
Marjorie Taylor Greene has been reelected
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the freshman Republican who gained notoriety in her first term for incendiary rhetoric that edged into racism, antisemitism and conspiracy theories, has been reelected, AP’s Russ Bynum reports from Savannah.
Just weeks after taking office last year, members of the Democratic-controlled House voted to strip Greene of her committee assignments following uproar over her past comments and apparent support of violence against Democrats.
Democrats were particularly livid about a Facebook ad on Greene’s campaign page. The image featured a photo of Greene holding a gun along images of Democratic U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. The ad included the caption: “Squad’s worst nightmare.”
Greene was expected to easily win reelection and has made clear that should Republicans win control of House she expects to hold a prominent role in the caucus.
“I’m going to be a strong legislator and I’ll be a very involved member of Congress,” she predicted. “I know how to work inside, and I know how to work outside. And I’m looking forward to doing that.”
– The Associated Press
Crucial Arizona Senate race tests Trump-era Democratic gains
Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly has been fighting to hold on to the seat he won for Democrats two years ago, but he faced a vastly different political environment heading into Tuesday’s election against Republican venture capitalist Blake Masters.
Kelly’s 2020 special election victory gave Democrats both of Arizona’s Senate seats for the first time in 70 years. It was propelled by the state’s fast-changing demographics and the unpopularity of then-President Donald Trump.
This time, the unpopular president, Joe Biden, is from Kelly’s own party, and the environment looks less favorable for Democrats.
The Arizona race is one of a handful of contests that Republicans targeted in their bid to take control of what is now a 50-50 Senate. It’s a test of the inroads that Kelly and other Democrats have made in a state once reliably dominated by Republicans and will offer clues about whether Democratic success here was an aberration during the Trump presidency or an enduring phenomenon.
– The Associated Press
Marco Rubio secures another term
Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida easily won another term on Tuesday, beating Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings, AP’s Brendan Farrington reports.
Once the quintessential swing state, Rubio’s victory appeared to be further evidence of Florida’s hardening conservative politics. Demings was unable to unseat Rubio despite raising more money and drawing national attention with her role in then-President Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial.
Polls in Harris County to stay open for an extra hour
Voters in the most populous county in Texas will have an extra hour to cast their ballots, thanks to an emergency order from a local judge.
Texas state District Court Judge Dawn Rogers ordered that all polling places in Harris County, which includes Houston, remain open until 8 p.m. Central (that’s 9 p.m. Eastern). The ruling is in response to request by the Texas Organizing Project, after at least 12 polling places in the county failed to open at the required time on 7 a.m. Central.
Harris County election officials attributed the delays to a variety of causes, including lack of supplies and computer issues. Harris County Elections Administrator Clifford Tatum said anyone who is not in line to vote before the original 7 p.m. deadline will need to cast a provisional ballot during that extra hour of voting.
“If you are in line, stay in line. Your vote is your voice,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a tweet.
– The Associated Press
Most polls closed in half of the 50 U.S. states
With the majority of polls closed in half of the 50 U.S. states, the initial returns would not alter the balance of power in the 50-50 Senate, which Democrats currently control with a tie-breaking vote.
Thirty-five Senate seats and all 435 House of Representatives seats are on the ballot. Republicans are widely favored to pick up the five seats they need to control the House, but control of the Senate could come down to tight races in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Georgia and Arizona. Three dozen governors’ races are at stake as well.
The final outcome is unlikely to be known any time soon.
More than 46 million Americans voted ahead of Election Day, either by mail or in person, according to data from the U.S. Election Project, and state election officials caution that counting those ballots will take time. Control of the Senate might not be known until a potential Dec. 6 runoff in Georgia.
Rand Paul secures third term
Incumbent U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has defeated challenger Charles Booker, a progressive Black Democrat, to secure a third term from Kentucky.
Booker, a former member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, previously sought to challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2020, but lost a close race in the Democratic primary.
Paul, 59, capitalized on his massive fundraising advantage to run a series of TV ads, while Booker, 38, relied mostly on social media and grassroots campaigning. Paul paid little public attention to Booker, refusing to debate his challenger.
Democrats haven’t won a Senate election in Kentucky since 1992, when then-incumbent Wendell Ford won his last election.
First Gen Z member to win a seat in Congress
Democrat Maxwell Alejandro Frost has become the first Gen Z member to win a seat in Congress, winning a Florida House seat.
Frost, a 25-year-old gun reform and social justice activist, ran in a heavily blue Orlando-area district being relinquished by Democratic Rep. Val Demings, who challenged Republican Sen. Marco Rubio this year.
Frost is a former March For Our Lives organizer seeking stricter gun control laws and has stressed opposition to restrictions on abortion rights. Generation Z generally refers to those born between the late 1990s to early 2010s. To become a member of Congress, candidates must be at least 25 years old.
Frost celebrated on Twitter: “WE WON!!!! History was made tonight. We made history for Floridians, for Gen Z, and for everyone who believes we deserve a better future. I am beyond thankful for the opportunity to represent my home in the United States Congress,” Frost tweeted.
Races in South Carolina and Vermont called
Right as polls closed in South Carolina and Vermont, AP made its first calls in U.S. Senate races. Republican Tim Scott won reelection in South Carolina, while Democrat Peter Welch was elected from Vermont.
In defeating Trump-endorsed Republican Gerald Malloy, Welch — who has served in the House of Representatives for 16 years — becomes the junior senator from Vermont while independent Bernie Sanders becomes the state’s senior senator. Longtime U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy is retiring after serving 48 years, AP’s Wilson Ring reports.
– The Associated Press
Several Republican senators win re-election
Several Republican senators easily won re-election in U.S. midterm elections that could usher in an era of divided government and scale back President Joe Biden’s power in Washington.
With polls closed in six states, the initial results would not alter the balance of power in the 50-50 Senate, which Democrats currently control with a tie-breaking vote.
Edison Research projected that incumbent Republican Senators Tim Scott in South Carolina and Todd Young in Indiana would win re-election. Fox News projected Republican Rand Paul would win re-election in Kentucky and Democrat Peter Welch would win an open Senate seat in Vermont.
First U.S. midterm election polls close in some states
A fierce competition for control of Congress along with dozens of governors’ mansions and key election posts was unfolding Tuesday as polls began closing in several closely watched states along the East Coast.
Polls close in some states: Polls closed in Kentucky and Indiana at 6 p.m. Eastern. The next wave of closures will be in New Hampshire, Vermont, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Polls close or begin to close in those states at 7 p.m. Eastern.
The outcome of races for House and Senate will determine the future of President Joe Biden’s agenda and serve as a referendum on his administration as the nation reels from record-high inflation and concerns over the direction of the country. Republican control of the House would likely trigger a round of investigations into Biden and his family, while a GOP Senate takeover would hobble Biden’s ability to make judicial appointments.
Democrats were facing historic headwinds. The party in power almost always suffers losses in the president’s first midterm elections, but Democrats had been hoping that anger from the Supreme Court’s decision to gut abortion rights might energize their voters to buck historical trends.
Even Biden, who planned to watch the evening’s election returns at the White House, said late Monday night that he thought his party would keep the Senate but “the House is tougher.” Asked how that would make governing, his assessment was stark: “More difficult.”
Republicans are betting that messaging focused on the economy, gas prices and crime will resonate with voters at a time of soaring inflation and rising violence.
Polls were still open: In several states with high-profile races for Senate or governor, including Pennsylvania, Nevada, Wisconsin, Arizona and Michigan, polls were still open. Voters in many of these states were also choosing secretaries of state, roles that typically generate little attention but have come under growing scrutiny as GOP contenders who refused to accept the results of the 2020 campaign were running to control the management of future elections.
– The Associated Press
A political safe space for the left in Texas shifts right
Hispanic-Americans have been among the most reliable voters for Democrats. But there are signs of change in this key area of the country that may spell trouble for President Joe Biden.
The Rio Grande Valley has long been a Democratic stronghold in Texas. It’s home to the 15th congressional district, one of the first Hispanic-majority districts in the U.S., and has never elected a Republican representative since its formation 102 years ago. But national tracking firms such as the Cook Political Report say the district now leans Republican.
Many Republicans see the Hispanic community, with its higher rates of religious adherence and social conservatism, as a natural fit. “I don’t think the Democratic Party down here even understands what has hit them,” said Roman Pérez, a political commentator and vice-chair of the Cameron County Republican Party.
The Globe’s Nathan VanderKlippe reported from McAllen, Tex., on how some Hispanics are flocking to the Republican Party.
Issues on the ballot this election
There’s some cognitive dissonance in this election between the very immediate issues that are affecting people’s lives – inflation being the most obvious – and the big existential battle over the future of American democracy that the political parties are fighting.
President Joe Biden has made multiple speeches warning that Donald Trump’s acolytes will start trying to overturn elections if they win, setting the country on the path to autocracy.
If you spend a lot of time around Republican Party activists, you’ll hear a lot of talk about (imagined) election fraud – people being bussed into swing states to vote illegally, the Venezuelan government controlling the machines that tabulate ballots, fake votes being brought into counting stations late at night.
In most polling, though, all of this takes a back seat to bread-and-butter economic concerns. That dynamic may be bad news for Democrats, who seem to wish voters would care more about election denial than the price of groceries.
“I understand democracy might not seem like a top priority right now when gas prices are high and grocery bills are high,” former president Barack Obama said in Pennsylvania the other day. But “we’ve seen throughout history, we’ve seen around the world, what happens when you give up on democracy.”
– Adrian Morrow
Counting by hand?
Among the core tenets of election denialism in the U.S. is a suspicion that electronic tabulators — the machines that count votes — can’t be trusted. Vanishingly little evidence supports such mistrust: tabulating machines have been shown to count accurately and election officials have gone to great lengths to be transparent. Some have even kept cabling exposed in video-monitored rooms to allay concerns about interference.
Nonetheless, far right candidates have called for the machines to be unplugged and replaced by hand-counts.
There are early indications that it’s not going well. Take Nye County in southern Nevada, which pledged a hand-count this year in parallel with a machine count. But the process has been plagued by so many problems that the state shut it down until after election day.
Among the issues: other observers could hear when the hand-count votes were read aloud, a violation of rules against early release of results. There were no procedures in place — like the wearing of gloves — to prevent accidental marking of ballots as they were handled. And the process was ponderously slow. The Associated Press calculated ballots counted at the rate of 50 per three hours per counting team, as mistakes forced repeated recounts. The county has more than 33,000 registered voters.
Nye County intends to continue counting by hand. County officials have discussed removing the machines entirely by 2024. But first they have to finish the 2022 count, a task that must be complete by Nov. 18.
– Nathan VanderKlippe
Georgia could be the tipping point for the Senate
In Georgia’s Senate race, current polling shows Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock in a dead heat with Republican Herschel Walker, a former football star.
On the campaign trail, Mr. Warnock invoked his long history of activism for health care expansion and voting rights to highlight Mr. Walker’s status as a political newcomer. Two women, meanwhile, have come forward to say Mr. Walker paid for their abortions after they became pregnant by him. Mr. Walker supports a countrywide ban on abortion and has denied the women’s stories.
Polling shows Mr. Walker performing worse than Republican Governor Brian Kemp, who is up for re-election in a rematch of his 2018 race against Stacey Abrams. It suggests the Senate could turn on a chunk of Republicans and independents who are cool to Mr. Walker.
The Globe’s Adrian Morrow reported from Atlanta, Ga., on the race that could tip the Senate.
Republican votes cite immigration, violent crime as key midterm issues
About three-quarters of Republican supporters say immigration and violent crime are very important to their midterm votes, amounting to their No. 2 and 3 issues of highest concern, behind the economy, according to an October survey from the Pew Research Center. By comparison, fewer than half of Democratic supporters say those topics are very important.
On the flip side, about eight in 10 Democratic backers say health care is very important to their vote – but only half as many Republican supporters feel the same. The largest gap is for climate change: nearly seven in 10 Democratic voters say it’s very important, but just 9 per cent of Republicans.
There are, however, some points of overlap. For instance, fewer than one-third of voters on both sides of the aisle say COVID-19 is heavily influencing their decision.
And in both parties, the future of democracy in the U.S. is highly important. But that is likely for different reasons. On the campaign trail, President Joe Biden has warned that “democracy itself” is at stake in the midterms, citing instances of voter intimidation, the Jan. 6 Capitol riots and the recent attack of Paul Pelosi, husband of House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi. The Republicans, meanwhile, have fielded a slate of candidates that is crowded with deniers of the 2020 presidential election results.
– Matt Lundy
In Arizona, Brexiteer Nigel Farage hopes Trump favourite Kari Lake will win
Donald Trump once called Nigel Farage “the Brexit guy,” a laudatory label for the British conservative who did more than just about anyone else to prod the United Kingdom out of the European Union.
Now Mr. Farage is in Arizona, hoping for a chance to witness a new kind of political disruption. He was in Florida the day Mr. Trump endorsed Kari Lake as the Republican candidate for Arizona’s governor. On Tuesday, he was at the Scottsdale resort complex where Ms. Lake will be the main attraction at an election night party, alongside other candidates who have together been called the “Trump ticket.” Polls suggest a close result, but indicate Ms. Lake may have reason to celebrate.
Mr. Farage has professional reasons to be in Arizona. He is now a broadcaster with GB News, a right-wing media startup in the UK. He has personal reasons to be here, too. When it comes to Ms. Lake, he is something of a fan.
“I’m here because I think she’s going to win,” Mr. Farage told The Globe and Mail. “I’m here because I think she has a very big future in terms of American conservatism,” which he describes as oriented around a traditional definition of family values and “quite Christian.”
A friend of Peter Thiel, the financier who has backed several of Mr. Trump’s preferred candidates in the mid-term elections, Mr. Farage sees the potential for Ms. Lake, a telegenic former news anchor, to step onto the national stage.
“I have a strong suspicion that Trump will have her as his running mate,” he said. Ms. Lake once again threw water on that suggestion Tuesday, saying “I am going to not only be the governor of Arizona for four years, I’m going to do two terms.” She then promised to the journalists covering her: “I’m going to be your worst fricking nightmare for eight years.”
Ms. Lake has been described, including by those who mean to flatter her, as “Donald Trump in heels.” Mr. Trump has intimated that he will announce his intention to run again for president next week.
If Ms. Lake wins, “the first thing it says is that the conservative party in America has shifted for good — and it’s not going back,” Mr. Farage said. “Whether that wins elections is your next question, and I don’t know the answer to that any more than you do.”
But, he said, “what this does is it sets a very clear course for American conservatism for at least the next decade.”
– Nathan VanderKlippe
Election results in close races
In at least three crucial states – Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin – the Republicans are already suing to throw out thousands of mail-in ballots. Democratic voters are more likely to cast absentee ballots than Republicans, so these moves could hurt the Democratic candidates if the races in those states turn out to be close.
It may be a preview of what to expect this week. The election outcome in close states may not be clear for a few days, given that it takes longer to process mail-in ballots, which could provide an opening for losing election-denier candidates to do what Donald Trump did in 2020: Baselessly claim voter fraud. If that happens, we could be in for weeks of legal and political wrangling over the results of some races.
There’s also some fear of political violence after a man broke into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s house last month and beat her husband with a hammer. The suspect in that case, a 42-year-old Canadian named David DePape, appears to have posted a bunch of conspiracist material online.
Nevada governor’s vote pits a sheriff against a businessman
The Nevada governor’s vote is a contest between a Republican sheriff and a Democratic businessman. But its outcome may lie in the hands of the state’s Hispanic population, whose faltering allegiance to the Democratic Party has boosted the fortunes of conservative candidates across the U.S.
Hispanics make up 28 per cent of the population in Nevada (only four other states have a higher proportion) and are likely to cast one in five votes this year, according to estimates by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Education Fund. “Latinos are poised to determine the outcome of the state’s congressional elections,” fund CEO Arturo Vargas said earlier this year. That includes a closely watched Nevada Senate race that could determine the balance of power in that chamber of Congress.
But the Hispanic vote is also likely to prove decisive in choosing a governor. Republican challenger Joe Lombardo has edged ahead of incumbent Democrat Steve Sisolak in recent polls, with at least one survey showing a shift in Hispanic preferences. In early November, Emerson College Polling found majority Hispanic support for Mr. Lombardo. That poll showed dramatically different results from a survey conducted just a week earlier, which showed 60-per-cent Hispanic support for Democratic candidates. The competing polls illustrate the tightness of the race in Nevada – and just how important the Hispanic vote will be.
How the midterms could affect Donald Trump’s political future
Donald Trump’s name is not on today’s ballot, but he remains one of the most potent forces in the midterm elections. The vote will demonstrate how much of the Republican Party he has cast in his mould. It may even sway the former president’s decision to run again.
The midterm elections not only act as a referendum on the performance of Joe Biden’s presidency, they also serve judgment on Mr. Trump and the ways he has transformed U.S. politics.
Among voters, Mr. Trump himself registers low on the list of priorities. But Jai Chabria, a Republican strategist in , says the issues that have surged to the fore reflect a lack of faith in the institutions of U.S. government – the very same institutions Mr. Trump has proven effective in criticizing.
The former president has become arguably the most important figure in the Republican Party, which is remaking itself in his image in terms of the policies it pursues and the often raucous way it pursues them.
Read Nathan VanderKlippe’s report on what the U.S. midterms will say about Trump’s future.
Economic issues top of mind for voters
About eight in 10 registered voters said the economy was very important in making their decision, making it the top issue in the midterms, according to an October survey from the Pew Research Center.
In some respects, economic conditions are strong. The unemployment rate in October was 3.7 per cent – near the lowest levels seen in the past half-century. The U.S. economy has managed to claw back all the jobs lost during the pandemic, a process that took more than two years.
Even so, Americans are coping with the largest inflation surge in four decades. In September, the annual change in the Consumer Price Index – a popular measure of inflation – was 8.2 per cent. Inflation seems to have peaked in June at 9.1 per cent, but is still far too high for comfort. And to wrestle inflation back down, the Federal Reserve – the U.S. central bank – is raising interest rates in aggressive fashion. The idea is to raise borrowing costs and curb demand for goods and services, thereby bringing back price growth back to the Fed’s 2-per-cent target.
As the rate-hiking process unfolds, Americans are feeling the financial effects. Stock markets have plunged. (So far this year, the S&P 500 index is down roughly 20 per cent.) Broadly speaking, U.S. home prices have declined slightly after a meteoric rise in 2021. Meanwhile, wages for the average worker are growing quickly – just not enough to match inflation.
It’s no wonder that consumers are feeling glum. The University of Michigan has been tracking consumer confidence for decades, and in June, the results were the worst on record. Since then, there has been an uptick, but sentiment is still near historic lows. (The Michigan survey is heavily influenced by personal finances, a big part of why the results are so poor.)
The Michigan pollsters recently asked consumers whether they thought a Congress controlled by Democrats or Republicans would be more favourable to the economy and their personal finances. On both questions, a plurality thought neither party was better. (Put another way, “no difference” was the most popular answer, but short of a majority.) However, among those who expressed a preference, the Republicans fared much better.
Arizona ‘Trump ticket’ races could shape balance of power in Washington
They are the “Trump ticket”: Blake Masters, Kari Lake, Mark Finchem and Abraham Hamadeh, the Republican candidates for the top offices of government in Arizona, each a close political follower of the former president.
Perhaps nowhere else in the country is the imprint of Donald Trump, and with him the outlook for U.S. democracy, more closely bound to Tuesday’s midterm elections.
What happens in Arizona stands to shape national politics, with Mr. Masters, the Republican Senate candidate, vying to unseat Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly. Republicans need to gain just one Senate seat to assume control of that chamber, with its powers to confirm or deny presidential appointments.
The success or failure of the Trump ticket in Arizona will also measure what hold the former president and his election denialism continue to exert on U.S. politics.
The Globe’s Nathan VanderKlippe reported from Scottsdale, Ariz., on the Trump-backed midterm hopefuls.
Tina Kotek and Christine Drazan face off in Oregon
Democrats may have held the governor’s office in Oregon with one of the least popular state leaders in the country. But they had reason to be confident: A Republican has not been governor of the progressive bastion since 1987.
This year, however, Democratic candidate Tina Kotek is in a fight for her life against Republican Christine Drazan, a pro-Trump, anti-abortion candidate. Poll aggregator FiveThirtyEight.com shows the two separated by a single percentage point. Democrats have blamed a third-party spoiler, Betsy Johnson, a former Democrat who has run on her own ticket. But support for Ms. Johnson has fallen dramatically as election day nears.
Instead, Oregon has become a particularly striking example of how frustrations regarding crime and the economy are driving voters to the Republican Party. Portland was once at the vanguard of calls to “defund the police”; this summer, it declared a crime state of emergency after setting new records for numbers of homicides.
Ms. Drazan also has a rich benefactor. Billionaire Nike co-founder Phil Knight has vowed to do anything to prevent her Democratic opponent from winning. Victory for Ms. Drazan would be a landmark Republican breakthrough, ending the Democratic lock on governors’ offices up and down the Pacific Coast.
Drugs, abortion and debt collection: Other big issues on U.S. ballots
Most Americans will be voting on more than who controls Congress. Voters in 37 states will also be deciding on 132 state-wide ballot measures. Here are some notable ones:
- This year, there will be six ballot measures addressing abortion. That is the most in a single year, according to Ballotpedia, a nonpartisan online encyclopedia about U.S. politics. It also follows a Supreme Court decision in June to overrule Roe v. Wade, granting states the power to regulate abortion, except where federal law pre-empts state law. Abortion-related measures will be on the ballot in California, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana and Vermont. In California, for instance, Proposition 1 would amend the state constitution to include the individual’s fundamental right to reproductive freedom, including the choice to have an abortion or use contraceptives.
- Much like in recent years, a handful of U.S. states will be voting on the legality of recreational cannabis use: Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota. In Missouri, Amendment 3 would also “allow persons with certain marijuana-related non-violent offenses to petition for release from incarceration or parole and probation and have records expunged.”
- Sports betting is a big decision in California. The state has two propositions on the ballot. The first concerns the legality of online and mobile sports betting. (Most of the taxes and licensing revenue collected would go toward homelessness programs.) The second concerns the legalization of in-person sports betting at tribal casinos and racetracks. According to Ballotpedia, spending in support and opposition to the two propositions is roughly US$595-million – or a majority of contributions to all ballot measure campaigns in 2022.
- Colorado was an early adopter in legalizing cannabis. Now, the state is turning its focus to psychedelic plants. Proposition 122 would classify dimethyltryptamine (DMT), mescaline, psilocybin (magic mushrooms) and other plants as natural medicine and decriminalize the personal use, possession, growth and transportation of them. In 2020, Oregon became the first state to legalize psilocybin.
- In Arizona, Proposition 209 would place new restrictions on debt collection for medical expenses. Specifically, it would reduce the maximum interest rate on medical debt to 3 per cent from 10 per cent. It would also allow the courts to reduce the amount of disposable income garnished from borrowers, among other changes.
Key races to watch
Seven races are likely to determine control of the U.S. Senate. Currently, each party holds 50 seats; with Vice-President Kamala Harris voting to break ties, this gives the Democrats the narrowest of majorities.
The Republicans’ best chances of taking Democratic seats are in Georgia, Nevada, Arizona and New Hampshire. The Democrats’ best shots at winning seats currently held by Republicans are in Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Carolina.
Some of the candidates in these contests are interesting in their own right.
In Georgia, former professional football player Herschel Walker is trying to unseat Raphael Warnock, the pastor at Martin Luther King Jr.’s former church.
In Arizona, Republican Blake Masters supports election denial and opposes aid to Ukraine; he’s up against Mark Kelly, a former astronaut.
Pennsylvania is a battle between John Fetterman, the tattooed, hoodie-wearing state lieutenant-governor, and Republican Mehmet Oz, the TV doctor.
In Ohio, Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance is selling himself as a Donald Trump superfan after repeatedly badmouthing him just a few years ago. He’s up against Tim Ryan, a congressman trying to prove Democrats can still win by appealing to blue-collar workers who have watched factory jobs vanish.
The governorships are up for grabs in all five of the swing states that tipped the 2020 election to Joe Biden: Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Wisconsin. In all but Georgia, the Republican gubernatorial nominees are election deniers.
In the U.S., election rules are set state-by-state, so controlling the state government can be crucial in future elections. In 2020, Mr. Trump (unsuccessfully) put pressure on state officials to overturn Mr. Biden’s victory. Election deniers being in charge after today could open the door to efforts to throw out future election results.
U.S. midterm elections: What’s at stake today
U.S. voters will decide today who controls Congress for the next two years, with all 435 House of Representatives and 34 of 100 Senate seats at stake in midterm elections. In 36 states, voters will also be electing governors and other state officials.
There is an almost insanely large number of major issues shaping the election. Inflation is at a 40-year high, crime rates have yet to fall to pre-pandemic levels in some places, and Republicans are hammering Democrats on the U.S.-Mexico border and undocumented immigrants.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade’s protection of abortion rights this summer has galvanized some voters in the hope that legislators can restore the right to the procedure.
Looming over it all is the future of U.S. democracy itself. More than 300 election deniers – people who support Donald Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen – are running for various offices, raising serious concerns that they will try to overturn the results of future elections.
In recent days, the momentum (at least in the polls) has seemed to favour Republicans taking control of the House. The Senate remains a toss-up.
We should start to see results around 7 p.m. ET, when the first polls close on the East Coast, but the full results may not be clear for days in some tighter races.