Hello! The first polls are closing in about 15 minutes. While we wait, here’s a rundown of the races we need to watch closely.
Going into the midterms, the Democrats control 220 seats and the Republicans have 212, with three seats vacant. The Republicans need to flip just five seats – a miniscule number by historical standards – to win control of the House.
Over in the Senate, things are even tighter. The chamber is currently split 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris holding the casting vote. A single net gain for the Republicans would flip that chamber as well.
Then there are the state races – voters are electing new governors, state legislatures and attorneys-general. There is added significance to the state level contests this year, because a high number of Republican candidates do not accept the results of the 2020 presidential election, and should they win today, they will be in a position to influence the results in 2024.
Anyway. Key races. Here’s a very limited selection:
– Pennsylvania Senate
Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, a Democrat, is up against Mehmet Oz, a heart surgeon best known for his roles on television. Mr Fetterman suffered a stroke recently and is still recovering – he was favoured to win this race before the pair met for a televised debate, in which he performed abysmally.
– Georgia Senate
Former football player Herschel Walker, a Republican, is trying to unseat the incumbent Democrat, Raphael Warnock. Mr Walker’s personal life has dominated the campaign – he is vocally anti-abortion, yet is alleged to have paid for women to have abortions. Go figure.
– Ohio Senate
Republican J.D. Vance, most famous for writing the memoir Hillbilly Elegy, is favoured to beat Democrat Tim Ryan. Vance is very much from the Trumpian wing of his party, and Donald Trump won Ohio comfortably in 2020.
– Arizona Senate
Another big Trump fan, Republican Blake Masters, is trying to take down Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly, a former astronaut. Mr Kelly is married to former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot in 2011.