How to watch the midterm elections

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Are you gnawing pencils and pulling out your hair waiting to know how the 2018 vote is going to? Well, snap out of it! 

If you’ve already voted there’s nothing left for you to do but wait and see. And in fact, this can be a great deal of fun if you know where to watch and what to watch for.

On the Fox News Decision Desk we’re employing what we believe is the best method yet devised for not only making quick, accurate calls on races as well as the composition of the House and Senate but also to find out what’s motivating different groups of voters.

The new Fox News Voter Analysis will also give us some majorly cool prediction tools that you can watch on television starting at 6 p.m. ET tonight. Plus, you can watch our dials do their thing and keep track of every Senate and gubernatorial race as well as all of the hot House races at our midterms page. When you’re there, you can also explore all of the data we’re able to get from the FNVA. 

But you don’t need a probability meter and crosstabs to get a sense of which way things are heading.

Start with the basic understanding that the expected outcome is that Democrats will do well enough in the House to get more than the 23 seats they need to take the majority and that Republicans will do well enough in the Senate to protect or expand their one-seat majority there.

Less likely, but not remote, are two other scenarios. One is that polls have missed a considerable number of new and low-frequency Democratic voters and the Blue Team is headed for a smashing victory in the House and may even put the Senate in play. The other is that suburbanites will come back to the GOP and help Republicans hold the House and make bigger gains in the Senate.     

With scenarios A) the expected split, B) the blue wave and C) the red wall in mind, you can watch the election unfold with an eye on key races as polls close hour by hour. 

(All times Eastern Standard)


Kentucky House District 6

REPUBLICAN INCUMBENT – Republican seat since 2013

REPUBLICAN: Rep. Andy Barr won a third term by 22 points in 2016 election. He has been a lawyer, a political appointee and an elected congressman for the majority of his career

DEMOCRAT: Amy McGrath is a former Marine fighter pilot. McGrath has spent money in unorthodox ways. She has opened field offices in each of the district's 20 far-flung counties, no matter the population. She has not run traditional attack ads, but outside groups have run negative ads on her behalf.

RACE NOTES: President Trump carried this district by 15 points in 2016. McGrath has outraised Barr and is running neck-and-neck with him in a district that has been trending Republican. It’s also a good test because the district includes the younger, more liberal voters around the University of Kentucky, affluent suburbanites and rural, blue-collar voters. The race tests key components of the parties’ coalition. 

If this one is even close, it’s good news for Democrats, but within the confines of Scenario A. If McGrath is leading, it would be the first sign of Scenario B and a short, unhappy night for Republicans. And if Barr is leading like he did in 2016, Republicans can start chilling their Scenario C champagne.   


Indiana Senate

DEMOCRAT INCUMBENT - Democratic seat since 2013

DEMOCRAT: Sen. Joe Donnelly in 2012 nabbed this seat which had been in Republican hands since 1977 after Republicans fumbled their primary. He’s a lawyer and former congressman from the North Central part of the state that includes the city of South Bend.

REPUBLICAN: Mike Braun represented a district in the southwestern corner of the state in the Indiana House of Representatives from 2014 to 2017. He won the Republican nomination when the frontrunners, two congressmen, ripped each other to shreds and left him the last man standing. He’s the CEO of an auto parts distribution company.  

RACE NOTES: Part of the reason for the Republican’s dreadful primary was that this looked like the most easy-to-flip Senate seat at the start of the cycle. The more valuable the prize, the more intense the competition. But Donnelly has proved harder to beat, even in Mike Pence’s home state where the GOP won bigly in 2016.

This is where Scenario B will meet its first must-pass test. Donnelly ended the campaign with a narrow edge in the polls. If Democrats really have a shot at squeezing Republicans’ majority, Donnelly will have to deliver. Conversely, a decisive win for Braun would be all about Scenario C.    

Georgia governor
OPEN SEAT – Governor Nathan Deal (R) is term-limited, Republican held since 2003

REPUBLICAN: Brian Kemp has been Georgia’s Secretary of State since 2010. Before that he was a state Senator from 2002-2006.

DEMOCRAT: Stacey Abrams was a state representative from 2006-2017, holding the title of state House Minority Leader, from 2010-2017. She would be the first black woman to be elected governor in the U.S.

RACE NOTES: The fact that this race is even competitive is a testament to a few things: It’s a good year for Democrats, Georgia is getting more competitive and Republicans shot themselves in the foot in their primary.

Both parties eschewed moderation in their primaries, but in Kemp has been one of the most extreme candidates anywhere in the country this cycle. His primary campaign touted his truck for deporting illegal immigrants and his general election argument sounds like Steve Bannon is his campaign manager. Further, he has sharply politicized his office. Abrams, while quite liberal, has managed to strike a moderate-sounding tone.

For all that, this race shouldn’t be as close as the polls show. Georgia is still a very Republican place. But if you see this one in a dead heat as the polls suggest, that will be an indication that Democrats really are turning out new voters this year.  


West Virginia House District 3

OPEN SEAT – Republican incumbent resigned; appointed to W. Va. Supreme Court

REPUBLICAN: Carol Miller has been in the West Virginia House of Delegates for more than a decade and along with her husband own one of the largest car dealerships in Southern West Virginia. She can also claim family ties to Congress as the daughter of longtime Ohio Rep. Samuel Devine who represented an Ohio district for decades. Leaning heavily on her fellow social conservatives, she fought her way through a primary that turned sharply competitive when Jenkins announced his ill-fated run for a Senate seat. 

DEMOCRAT: Richard Ojeda is like a lot of Democrats in the district in that he voted for Donald Trump in 2016. What he’s getting ready to find out in a district that favored the GOP by nearly 50 points two years ago is how many others agree that Trump hasn’t delivered. Or, as Iraq and Afghanistan veteran Ojeda said, Trump “hasn’t done s--t” for the district. Ojeda knocked off a well-connected Democrat incumbent in a 2016 state senate primary. He used that perch to become a vocal advocate for the state’s striking teachers union and became a favorite of organized labor

RACE NOTES: The 3rd District is shaped like a scruffy beard at the bottom of the Mountain state, curving from the traditionally Democratic precincts in and around Huntington on the Kentucky border all the way around to historically Republican-leaning spots on the border with Virginia. If voters here are either not turning out for Trump or reverting to their old Democrat ways it will be a dangerous sign for lots of other districts in the Rust Belt and Upper Midwest


Florida Senate 
DEMOCRAT INCUMBENT - Democratic seat since 2001

DEMOCRAT: Sen. Bill Nelson has been in state politics since 1972, climbing from Tallahassee to Washington the statehouse, first in the House and for the past 18 years, the Senate. He has leaned on his military service during the Vietnam War and then, in 1986, his trip aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia, when he became the first member of Congress to travel to space. But after so long in Washington, Nelson has seen his connection to a changing Florida weaken. 

REPUBLICAN: Rick Scott won two narrow victories as governor during very strong Republican years. A former health insurance executive, Scott spent massive sums to win, just as he hopes to do this year. Scott has won generally good marks as governor, but has been hurt by public dissatisfaction with Trump and his administration’s environmental policies in light of a toxic algae bloom fueled by fertilizer runoff.  

RACE NOTES: This one will tell us so much about the chances for our various scenarios. Scott trailed by a small but consistent margin in the closing weeks of the campaign. He’s struggled also with the less successful gubernatorial campaign of Rep. Ron DeSantis against Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. If Scott can come from behind to win, Republicans will have lots of reason to cheer. If Nelson has breathing room, Scenario B will be on the table. 

This will come in an avalanche of poll closings. Here is where we will start to really see the shape of the night.

Connecticut governor 
OPEN SEAT – Governor Dannel Malloy (D) is retiring 

REPUBLICAN: Bob Stefanowski has served as an executive at General Electric and UBS Investment Bank and has no political experience. He successfully secured the GOP nomination against four others, and with that he secured the president’s endorsement.

DEMOCRAT: Ned Lamont ran for Governor before in 2010. Prior to that he made a run for Senate in 2006. He successfully ran against Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary, but ultimately lost to Lieberman, who ran as an independent, in the general election.

RACE NOTES: Recent polls show Lamont up by single digits. Retiring Gov. Dannel Malloy is extremely unpopular in the state, giving Republicans an opportunity. The general election can be boiled down to Republicans successfully tying Lamont to Malloy and Democrats successfully tethering Stefanowski to Trump. If you see Stefanowski ahead, as some polls have shown, it will be a reasonable sign that the undercurrent of any blue wave isn’t reaching down to state races.


Wisconsin governor 


REPUBLICAN: Gov. Scott Walker is on the ballot for a fourth time in eight years and was in many ways the harbinger of Republican’s success in breaking the blue wall in the Upper Midwest in 2016. Walker’s failed bid for the GOP presidential nomination and accompanying rightward lurch hurt him at home, as has the state’s move away from Trump, who narrowly won Wisconsin two years ago. 

DEMOCRAT: Tony Evers has served as the state superintendent of schools since 2009. His success in the Democratic primary reflects just how much the Blue Team has remained focused on Walker’s successful effort to limit the bargaining power of government worker unions.

RACE NOTES: Walker sounded the alarm in Wisconsin in January, when a Democrat won a shocking landslide in a special election for a state Senate district that Trump had carried by 17 percentage points. The trend continued in April, when the Democrats’ favored candidate easily won a state Supreme Court election, and in June, when another Republican-held Senate seat flipped.

If Walker can defy the odds again and win a third team, Republicans have good reason to hope that Scenario C is happening. The coalition of blue-collar voters and traditionally Republican suburbanites who delivered for Trump and Walker can save the House for the GOP. But if Walker gets smoked like a summer sausage, the GOP will have an unhappy night in this part of the country.  


Nevada governor
OPEN SEAT— Governor Brian Sandoval (R) is term-limited; Republican held since 2001 

REPUBLICAN: Adam Laxalt is the state attorney general, and the grandson of former Nevada Governor and Sen. Paul Laxalt, and a son of former New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici. He served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. Laxalt has the support of President Trump as well as wealthy conservative casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

DEMOCRAT:  Steve Sisolak is chairman of the Clark County Commission, elected in 2008. He has the strong support of the state’s union Democrats and is well known to voters in the most electorally powerful county of the Silver State.  

RACE NOTES: Sandoval, one of the most popular governors in the country, has not made an endorsement in the race perhaps because Laxalt, a hard-nosed conservative, offers a departure from Sandoval’s more conciliatory approach. Nevada is a blue state but one that has remained hospitable to Republicans like Sandoval. If Laxalt really can win we expect that not only would we see Sen. Dean Heller hang on but also lots of other Republicans in the Southwest. This race comes down to Hispanic turnout in a big way, and if Democrats aren’t getting the job done in that regard, they may well come up short.  


California House District 48

REPUBLICAN: Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is the current representative of this California district and is perhaps best known for his enthusiastic pro-Putin views. 

DEMOCRAT: Harley Rouda is a lawyer and real estate businessman. In the primary season he was endorsed by both Our Revolution, a progressive group, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

RACE NOTES: This district has never been represented by a Democrat, but this may be the year. Hillary Clinton won the district by two points in 2016 and the race appears to be highly competitive. If Democrats can’t unseat a weak incumbent like this one, their hopes of flipping a number of Southern California seats will be very much in doubt.

Washington House District 5

REPUBLICAN: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers has been a member of the House GOP leadership since 2012 and currently serves as the only female. She has been a high-profile supporter of the party’s agenda and is a public face of Trump administration policies.

DEMOCRAT: Lisa Brown is a former Washington State University Spokane chancellor who is making her first try for federal office. Brown is also the former leader of the state Senate and has name recognition in the district. 

RACE NOTES: After 14 years in office support for McMorris Rodgers may not be as deep as it once was. In this August’s open primary, McMorris Rodgers took just 49 percent of the vote to 45 percent for Brown. If McMorris Rodgers loses it will be a sign that Democrats are hitting the high end of their register – maybe as many as 50 seats.

“The regular distribution of power into distinct departments; the introduction of legislative balances and checks; the institution of courts composed of judges holding their offices during good behavior; the representation of the people in the legislature by deputies of their own election: these are wholly new discoveries, or have made their principal progress towards perfection in modern times.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 9

History: “[On this day] Abraham Lincoln is elected the 16th president of the United States over a deeply divided Democratic Party, becoming the first Republican to win the presidency. Lincoln received only 40 percent of the popular vote but handily defeated the three other candidates… Lincoln, a Kentucky-born lawyer and former Whig representative to Congress, first gained national stature during his campaign against Stephen Douglas of Illinois for a U.S. Senate seat in 1858. The senatorial campaign featured a remarkable series of public encounters on the slavery issue, known as the Lincoln-Douglas debates, in which Lincoln argued against the spread of slavery… Lincoln lost the Senate race, but his campaign brought national attention to the young Republican Party. In 1860, Lincoln won the party’s presidential nomination. … The announcement of Lincoln’s victory signaled the secession of the Southern states, which since the beginning of the year had been publicly threatening secession if the Republicans gained the White House.”

Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.

“I think it’s the only way to save this country.” – Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., referencing the House Problem Solvers Caucus. During his re-election campaign Fitzpatrick has brought up the caucus many times, saying it is “America’s best hope of learning to accept people’s differences.”

“Ahhh, Chris!!! I can’t even read your final rankings. It’s too stressful!” – Katie Hacker, Evington, Va. 

[Ed. note: All is well, Katie! Every two years, politicians tell us that THIS is the most important election in history. And they’re never telling the truth. Now, 1864, that was a doozy! This midterm will decide which party will preside over a House that accomplishes relatively little. The stakes in the Senate are a bit higher as it relates to executive nominations, but there’s no chance of any kind of lopsided majorities that could do more than nudge the needle on the ideology and qualifications of nominees. Most of the emotional fugue state in which the electorate finds itself is about just wanting to win for the sake of winning. But I promise there is nothing to be afraid of. Whatever happens and whomever wins, you will still live in a beautiful part of a wonderful commonwealth in the greatest, freest nation the world has ever known. We live in a time of unequaled prosperity, security and comfort. And God will still be in His Heaven. This is a day to enjoy, not to fret over. Promise!]       

“Thankfully, our two (2!) Senate races in Mississippi have been fairly calm and flying below national radar. Hoping for a clear Senate majority, one way or the other, after tomorrow’s election; the very last thing we need is for the Senate majority to teeter on the probable runoff between a Democrat (Mike Espy) and a Republican (likely Cindy Hyde-Smith, but slight possibility of Chris McDaniel) in a month. I don't think anyone wants to be under a media microscope these next few weeks. Looking forward to your coverage on Tuesday night. Thanks for all the clarity you bring to a complicated process.” – Mary Carol Miller, Greenwood, Miss.

[Ed. note: And yet it might! And if it does, I may get to go to Mississippi so that would be an upside!]

Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

The [Columbus, Ind.] Republic: “A local man who told officers he was late for work was arrested after he led officers on a vehicle pursuit that lasted more than a mile. Columbus police officers … were patrolling at 9:55 a.m. … when a vehicle approached the officers’ patrol car from behind… The driver, later identified as Jacob T. Waltermire, 28, was flailing his arms and honking the vehicle’s horn behind them. The officers pulled over to see if Waltermire needed help, but the driver continued past the officers... Officers saw that Waltermire’s car had only one working brake light and they attempted to stop the vehicle but Waltermire refused to pull over. The officers pursued Waltermire with their patrol car’s emergency lights and siren activated for more than a mile before he pulled into a parking lot…  Waltermire quickly left the vehicle and told officers that they had been driving too slow when he first encountered them and the officers were making him late for work.”

“Every two years the American politics industry fills the airwaves with the most virulent, scurrilous, wall-to-wall character assassination of nearly every political practitioner in the country - and then declares itself puzzled that America has lost trust in its politicians.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Oct. 28, 1994.  

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.