Keep it right here, LU Nation.
We’ll be manning the blog throughout the day to bring you the latest on exit polls, returns, laughs, gaffes, the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat.
We want to hear your stories too. Long lines at the polls? Ghost town? Surly poll workers? Sneaky Acorn-type tricks? Mysterious visitations from Unexplained Ballots? (Remember to get video if you see shenanigans.)
While you’re here, vote in LU’s own poll on the outcome of tonight’s election. You will find it in the righthand column beneath the LU Web Crawler. Just don’t tell anyone you voted twice. That could lead some on the right to allege there is voter fraud in the country.
In the meantime, a few encouragements from social media.
The 2×4 to the head.
The classy inspiration from history.
The kick in the tailbone.
— Janie Johnson (@jjauthor) November 4, 2014
Go forth and conquer, troops.
*UPDATE 12:03 PM ET* Flotsam and jetsam: Early exit polling reveals 18 million ballots having been cast so far in 32 states. Spring-like weather on the East Coast has contributed to brisk voting. Ezra Klein has an article noting that “if the 2012 election was only in the states voting for Senate today, Romney would have won.”
*UPDATE 12:51 PM ET (HP)* I decided to wait until the shank of the lunchtime rush hour to venture over to my local polling place to do my civic duty. Here is what I found: I once visited a ghost town out West and it was crowded by comparison. There was a minor point of confusion on how to dispose of your paper ballot. Off to the left of the semi-private voting booths was a bank of scanners, highlighted in the detail below: A second scanner, available to hapless voters who turned right instead of left, had eaten the ballot of a woman voting before me. The staff was working assiduously to figure out some way of retrieving it.
*UPDATE 1:22 PM ET* Some comments in from our friend Raffi Williams, Deputy Press Secretary of the Republican National Committee, on what the GOP did differently this time around, followed some details on the state of the races:
1) We fundamentally changed our strategy by expanding the electorate to turn out low propensity Republican voters and to turn them out early. We have changed the makeup of the electorate before Election Day when we traditionally do very well. Based on our predictive analytics we have produced significant “new votes” from people who had a certain unlikelihood of voting. We are winning with first time registrants and people who haven’t voted since 2006 in nearly all states.
2) We made a strategic decision to prioritize low propensity voters before Election Day. We’re winning in early vote where we historically shouldn’t be and in others we should be down by much larger margins. Democrats are not where they need to be today.
3) We invested in a new ground game that has outperformed a top-notch, better funded Bannock Street Project. For the first time we’re running a permanent ground game to have Republican messengers in the field 365 days a year. This time we started more than 12 months earlier on the ground than we did in the 2012 Election cycle. We’ve made tens of millions of voter contacts emphasizing quality of contact over volume of contact for the first time and are talking to voters everywhere – at their doors, on their phones, in their mailboxes, on their Facebook accounts and through other digital mediums.
STATE OF THE RACES:
ALASKA: Republicans have over-performed in absentee ballots vs. 2010 by over 4000 while the Democrats over-performed by just 856. Both parties have over-performed in early vote by the same numbers. Republicans have turned out more non-2010 voters than Democrats by 8%.
ARKANSAS: Republicans have surpassed our 2010 early vote by 27k voters compared to just 23k for the Democrats. Republicans have turned out 20% of our non-2010 voters while the Democrats just 19%. Eight of the top 10 counties in early voting are historically Republican leaning counties.
COLORADO: Republicans are leading Democrats by 111k ballots and we only led by 52k votes in 2010 at this point. Nearly 30% of the GOP’s lowest propensity voters have turned out compared to 21% of theirs. We’re also winning in the next tier of low propensity 38% to 28%. Republicans have turned out 34% of our non-2010 voters compared to 26% for the Democrats. Our social pressure messaging is working – a lot of the people who filled out commitment cards (pledge to vote concept) earlier in the process have mailed in their ballots.
GEORGIA: Republicans currently lead by 19k ballots cast. Four of the top 5 Republican counties are above 2012 turnout and only 3 of 5 top Democrat counties are above 2012 turnout. We have a very strong ground game in Georgia, it’s going to be close but we’re confident.
IOWA: Republicans are over-performing 2010 numbers with nearly 30k more absentee ballots and 15k more early votes. In 2010, Democrats led in returns by 20k and by 56k in 2012. Today that lead is down to just 8k heading into Election Day. Republicans have turned out 19% of our non-2010 voters. In the past our program wasn’t designed to turn these voters out which means we’re working with an expanded electorate. For the first time in modern Iowa early voting history the Republican Party has been neck and neck with the Democrats on absentee and early vote which shows the Democrats aren’t where they need to be and we’ve changed our game.
NORTH CAROLINA: Republicans are over-performing 2010 with 12k more absentee ballots and 16k more early votes heading into Election Day. In 2012 Republicans trailed going into Election Day by 420k votes but Romney won by nearly 100k voters even though the party registration make-up was 38% D and 35% R. We’re turning out 11% of our non-2010 voters. In the past our program wasn’t ever designed to turn these voters out which means we’re working with an expanded electorate and in a good position to win.
LOUISIANA: Both parties are outperforming party registration by 6 points and as with many southern states, our models are showing these Democrats voting with us. Mary Landrieu’s numbers have been stagnant for far too long to see how a ground game is impacting this race in their favor. Today is Landrieu’s endgame, she has trailed in every head-to-head against Cassidy and by her own team’s admission “she’s doomed” if it goes to a runoff. She’s not going to get 50% today and we’ve been on the ground with a robust operation since early 2013, that’s only set to increase dramatically in a runoff.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Polls have been consistently moving in our direction. Brown has the momentum and things feeling are good on the ground. KANSAS: Republicans in deep red Kansas are coming home to Senator Roberts. Where is Orman’s ground game? It’s going to be close but things are moving our way.
*UPDATE 2:40 PM ET* (JED) Reports of balloting problems — machines flipping votes from Republican to Democrat, or blanking out non-Democratic candidate choices, or refusing to accept a Republican vote — reportedly coming in from across the nation. (Stand with Arizona says on Facebook that there are reports of “hundreds” of incidents. Still digging into where that number comes from.)
One collection of reports from southeastern Virginia here. Major problem in Texas: Machines in San Antonio don’t have Greg Abbott’s name in the list of gubernatorial candidates at all. Twitchy has the story.
— Jade Stanford (@stanford_jade) November 4, 2014
Exit question: who is going to hold the county and state election officials accountable for the the interference these “glitches” undoubtedly represent with the vote?
*UPDATE 2:58 PM ET* (HP) What a difference a month makes. When asked in September whether he thought Democrats would retain control of the Senate, Barack Obama replied “Yes, I do.” From Reuters:
President Barack Obama, citing an economic rebound, said in a CBS interview he feels Democrats can keep control of the U.S. Senate in November elections, although he acknowledged many Americans did not feel the economy was recovering. Republicans need to gain six seats to recapture Senate control, which would dampen prospects for Obama’s agenda in the last two years of his presidency. He has been struggling in opinion polls and faces a series of international crises. Asked in a ‘60 Minutes’ interview that aired on Sunday if he thought Democrats could hold the Senate, Obama replied: Yes. I do.’
A short time, ago Fearless Leader was on Connecticut radio. His revised sense of the election is reflected in this tweet by Reid Epstein:
Obama, on CT radio, on the 2014 Senate map: “This is probably the worst possible group of states for democrats since Dwight Eisenhower.” — Reid J. Epstein (@reidepstein) November 4, 2014
*UPDATE 5:00 PM ET* (JED) In case you haven’t seen what it looks like to try to vote for the Republican congressional candidate in a Virginia Beach district, here’s a video that captures the problem one voter was having earlier today. Clearly, this isn’t a case of sloppy screen interaction.
Via Jim Geraghty at NRO’s Campaign Spot, we learn that at least one North Carolina voter tried to vote for a Democrat (Kay Hagan) and found the machine registering his vote for Thom Tillis instead. Interestingly, the voter seemed to have no question afterward that the machine was, in fact, promptly taken out of service. The voter was issues a paper ballot and completed his vote that way. Unlike situations reported in other states, he didn’t have to beg or argue with poll workers.
That said, the question remains: what will be done about the remarkable number of voting machine “glitches” surfacing across the country? I’m curious as to whether there will be a number of precincts in which the vote is — quite legitimately — called into question.
*UPDATE 5:26 PM ET* (HP) According to political forecasters, New Hampshire and North Carolina are the two states to watch early in order to get a sense of how the election breaks nationwide. Reuters reports that “turnout was unusually high for a midterm election … with Secretary of State Bill Gardner estimating it could top 50 percent, which would be a record for a non-presidential year.” Still awaiting word on North Carolina.
*UPDATE 6:10 PM ET* (JED) I’m not seeing anything to be surprised about in the first tranche of exit polls, but a quick look turns up these remarkable numbers cited by The Hill:
The vast majority of Americans — 69 percent — rate the state of the economy negatively, and about a third each say it’s getting better and worse. Still, 78 percent say they’re worried about the country’s economic conditions — and another 65 percent say the country is overall on the wrong track.
“This could,” says The Hill, “be problematic for Democrats.” Gee, ya think? Another sentiment registering in supermajority territory: 72% of respondents are worried about a major terrorist attack.
*UPDATE 7:00 PM ET* (HP) The polls just closed in five states, including Kentucky, where Fox News is calling the race. With 6% of precincts reporting, Fox is projecting that Mitch McConnell will defeat Alison Lundergan Grimes and hold onto his Senate seat. If Republicans gain control of that chamber, McConnell may see his status change as well, from Minority Leader to Majority Leader. Fox is also reporting that the Senate race in Virginia is too close to call but closer than originally envisioned.
*UPDATE 7:55 PM ET* (JED) Everyone is calling West Virginia’s Senate seat for the Republican, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (over Democrat Natalie Tennant). Campaign polling indicated this race was unlikely to spring any surprises, but it’s the first Senate pick-up of the night for the GOP and bears noting. The surprise at the moment, which I’m seeing on Fox, is that Ed Gillespie has a big lead over Mark Warner in Virginia. The bean-counters still all consider this one too close to call.
*UPDATE 8:25 PM ET* (HP) With 46% of the precincts reporting in in Virginia, the race is still too close to call in what is clearly the biggest repudiation of Barack Obama’s policies. According to the Real Clear Politics Average, the Republican, Ed Gillespie, has 52.1% of the vote as compared with incumbent Mark Warner’s 45.4%. This just in: In Arkansas, Fox News is projecting that GOP challenger Tom Cotton will defeat incumbent Mark Pryor, giving Republicans a pickup of 2 seats.
*UPDATE 8:45 PM ET* (JED) I voted (inland southern California) about an hour and a half ago. I drove by a couple of polling places early this morning and didn’t see much traffic, but business was brisk at my polling place around 4:00 PM (Pacific). No line, but people were in and out and all the voting niches were occupied while I was there. Experts have been predicting a record low turnout in California today, but you couldn’t prove it by me. We’ll see what the statewide numbers look like when the polls close in 2.5 hours. A high school polling station did have to be closed for several hours this morning due to a bomb threat (Temescal Canyon near Pacific Palisades).
*UPDATE 9:10 PM ET* (JED) Latest call by Fox puts the GOP net gain in the Senate at +3. Republican Mike Rounds is projected to defeat Democrat Rick Weiland in South Dakota. Fourteen more states closed the polls at 9 PM Eastern/8 PM Central, and we are likely to see more updates soon.
*UPDATE 9:45 PM ET* (JED) Big Fox projections just made: Jeanne Shaheen, IRS targeting conspirator, will defeat Scott Brown in New Hampshire; and the Louisiana Senate race will go to a runoff between Mary Landrieu and GOP challenger Bill Cassidy. (Fox shows Landrieu up 45-42% over Cassidy with 8% of the vote counted. The last comprehensive figures I saw showed the spoiler, Rob Maness, with about 10% of the vote, presumably pulled mostly from Cassidy.)
Of course, there’s a real possibility that the Republicans will take the Senate tonight, even without the Louisiana seat. Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia are still up in the air. Thom Tillis has surged to a tiny lead in North Carolina — about 2,000 votes — with nearly 55% of the vote tallied.
*UPDATE 9:55 PM ET* (JED) Huge call: Fox has Cory Gardner picking up the Colorado seat from Democratic incumbent Mark Udall. 61% of the vote is in, and the breakout is Gardner 50%, Udall 44%. This puts the GOP net gain at +4.
*UPDATE 10:05 PM ET* (JED) Whoa — GOP now up a net 5 in the Senate, with Republican Steve Daines being projected (by Fox) to defeat Amanda Curtis in Montana. This was an expected outcome. And we still have Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia too early/close to call.
****** Let’s summarize here, at the 10 PM mark on the East coast. We have a net GOP Senate pick-up of 5 seats so far: in Arkansas, Colorado, Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia. Races in Georgia (which may go to a runoff), North Carolina, and Virginia remain too close to call. The key races in Iowa and Kansas are too close to call right now as well. ******
*UPDATE 10:25 PM ET* (JED) Scott Walker now being projected to defeat Mary Burke in Wisconsin. He’s had a big lead (in the 60s) since the count started, but we’ve been hearing the counts are still too incomplete in the big urban areas. Looks like the squirrels pedaling behind the curtain at Fox have decided there’s enough to make the call on anyway.
Extremely tight in Virginia. Who knew? With about 96% of the vote tallied, Ed Gillespie has a razor-thin lead over Warner, 48.83 to 48.46%. The difference between them is about 8,000 votes at the moment. I don’t know what the recount trigger is, but I’d be betting on one.
Thom Tillis is opening a lead on Kay Hagan in North Carolina. It’s about 30,000 votes right now, with not quite 80% of the vote tallied. Perdue is way up on Nunn in Georgia, about 57 to 41% right now, but reportedly there’s a lot of the Atlanta metro left to count.
Pat Roberts opening his lead over Greg Orman in Kansas, although it’s still not very wide. About 50.5% to 45%, with 32% of the vote counted.
*UPDATE 10:45 PM ET* (JED) Hey, we haven’t been ignoring Texas — we just had no doubt how things would turn out there. Greg Abbott has soundly walloped Wendy “Bless her Heart” Davis and will be the next governor of Texas. John Cornyn, to no one’s surprise, will retain his Senate seat.
Republican Rick Snyder is being projected, meanwhile, to hold the governorship in Michigan.
*UPDATE 10:50 PM ET* (JED) ***HUGE*** – Fox projects Pat Roberts will hang on in Kansas, turning back the challenge from Fake-Independent Greg Orman. This means the GOP doesn’t have to worry about a major “minus-sign” hit in its quest to bag a net gain of 6 in the Senate.
Also hearing that Scott Brown hasn’t conceded yet, even though everyone has called New Hampshire for Shaheen. Hard to quibble with his reasoning. He’s within 2,000 votes of Shaheen at this point, and there are still more than that to be counted. It’s extremely tight going into the final precincts.
*UPDATE 11:05 PM ET* (JED) And there you go: Fox projects that Dave Perdue will beat Nunn in Georgia, with the majority needed to avoid a runoff. The challenge in Georgia — where Saxby Chambliss is retiring — was potentially another one where the GOP might incur a minus sign in the net tally for the Senate. But a Perdue win will keep the seat in Republican hands. So we’re still at +5 for the GOP in the Senate.
In Iowa, Joni Ernst is picking up steam, pulling within about 3 points of Braley as the count stands at 20% of the vote. We’re not hearing much about what’s been counted versus what remains in this one. Still appears up in the air. No word on Virginia or North Carolina yet.
*UPDATE 11:15 PM ET* (JED) Hoo boy – don’t want to get ahead of ourselves here, but the NBC affiliate in Des Moines has already called the Iowa race for Republican Joni Ernst. (The latest count had her surging to 50-47% over Braley, with a vote advantage of about 18,000.)
*UPDATE 11:25 PM ET* (JED) … and… it’s official! Iowa called for Joni Ernst; GOP takes the Senate! Before midnight Eastern, to boot.
*UPDATE 11:35 PM ET* (JED) And the hits just keep on coming. Two minutes ago: Fox called North Carolina for Thom Tillis. That makes the GOP net gain 7 seats. Virginia is still in play, and may go to a recount (Warner has gained the lead but it’s still very tight, 49.1 to 48.44%,with less than 1% of the vote still to count).
Another BIG call: Republican Bruce Rauner to beat Pat Quinn in the gubernatorial race in Illinois. Wasn’t expecting that one. It’s anything but a boring night, that’s for sure.
*UPDATE 11:50 PM ET* (JED) Well, shooo-WEE! Republican Charlie Baker knocks off Martha Coakley in the gubernatorial race in Massachusetts. That makes gains in two very blue states, Illinois being the other one.
*UPDATE 11:55 PM ET* (JED) Scott Brown is on the tube as I type conceding to Shaheen. It was a good run, Brownie.
Great, now we’re interviewing the back-room number-crunchers on Fox. Always a sign the news cycle is slowing down. I suspect we won’t know what happens in Virginia until Wednesday morning. Alaska is going to take quite a while too. Still waiting for a call on the Florida governor’s race, although the Florida affiliates are reporting that Charlie Crist has already conceded to Republican Rick Scott.
*UPDATE 12:30 AM ET 5 Nov * (JED) And another governor’s office switches hands. Larry Hogan, GOP candidate in Maryland, is now projected to win the governor ship in that very blue state. (His Democratic opponent is Anthony Brown.)
Fox also projects Sam Brownback prevailing over Democrat Paul Davis in what was thought to be a tough uphill climb for the Republicans in Kansas. Republican Brownback will serve another term as governor of the Sunflower State.
*UPDATE 12:50 AM ET* (JED) Even us Left coast types are starting to fade, and now Fox is having its panelists dress up as cowboys, which is just a bit too Rocky Horror for this old seadog. The news has slowed considerably. Just a couple of updates and your full-service Team Liberty Unyielding will be calling it a night.
Megyn Kelly just told us they’re projecting at least a 12-seat gain in the House for the Republicans.
And they reported about 10 minutes ago that they’re getting close to calling the Colorado gubernatorial contest for Republican Bob Beauprez. That would be another blue-to-red swap in the governors’ mansions, on top of Illinois, Massachusetts, and (!) Maryland.
I saw a Facebook friend calling this a “nuclear chain reaction,” and I assess that to be hyperbole. Excessive. An exaggeration. Over the top. There were still an awful lot of votes for some very stupid and radical Democrats. The fight has only just begun. But — more on this tomorrow — the forces of liberty have not yet begun to fight.
Let freedom ring.