The Top Ten Races I’ll Be Tracking Tonight

Today Americans all over the country finally get to speak more loudly than the most obnoxious tweet from Donald Trump. There is no one presidential race to consume all of the attention, but thousands of races all over the country from local to state to federal, not to mention ballot initiatives that will have a huge effect on hundreds of thousands of people. So buckle up…we’re about to go for a wild ride.

In order to help us wade through the myriad of results, a lot of people are publishing timelines and guides for what races to watch as the polls close. You’ll find a couple of the best at Daily Kos and FiveThirtyEight. Also, Daniel Nichanian has published a printable worksheet you can use to keep score yourself. It includes not only Senate, House and governors races, but a way to track state legislatures, ballot initiatives, and important local contests for prosecutors, sheriffs, and secretaries of state.

I’m someone who can get lost in all the details of so many races to watch. While I’ll keep my eye out for big news anywhere it happens, here are the races I’ve highlighted to track myself. As I wrote last week, I’m most interested in results that will indicate whether we’ll be talking about a blue wave when all of the ballots have been counted. So here’s my list (all times are EST):

6:00 pm – polls close in parts of Indiana and Kentucky

The first race to keep an eye on is for the congressional seat in Kentucky’s 6th district between incumbent Republican Andy Barr and Democrat Amy McGrath. You’ll remember the latter because of her introductory campaign ad.  The latest NYT/Sienna poll has the race tied.

7:00 pm – polls close in most of Florida, Georgia, the rest of Indiana, the rest of Kentucky, most towns in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia.

Right away it will be possible to get overwhelmed with too many races to watch. I’ll be focusing on the governors race in Georgia between Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp. Also of interest will be the congressional race in Georgia’s 6th district. This is the one we all heard so much about when Republican Karen Handel ultimately beat Jon Ossoff in a special election. This time Handel faces Democrat Lucia McBath, whose son Jordan Davis was shot and killed by Michael Dunn at a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida. McBath went on to be a leader in the Mothers of the Movement advocating for common sense gun laws. The latest NYT/Sienna poll has McGrath ahead by two.

8:00 pm – polls close in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, the rest of Florida, Illinois, most of Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, most of Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, the rest of New Hampshire, New Jersey, some counties in North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, eastern South Dakota, most of Texas, Tennessee.

This is the motherload of the evening, but I’ll be focusing on two races. With all of the polls closed in Florida, the governors race between Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum will take center stage. As Vann Newkirk wrote recently:

Gillum’s candidacy is a turning point for the state’s black and Latino populations, and his campaign hopes rest on expanding the electorate as much as possible. His success could mean the realization of a major political shift in Florida—one that will most certainly have major repercussions nationally in 2020 and beyond.

In addition to that one, polls will have closed in the Dallas/Forth Worth area of Texas. So I’ll be watching the returns on the congressional race in the 32nd district between incumbent Republican Pete Sessions and Democrat Colin Allred. I’ve written about that one previously and you might want to check out Jim Newell’s piece titled, “Uncle Pete’s in Trouble.” NYT/Siena recently polled this race and found Allred ahead by 4.

9 pm – polls close in Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, the rest of Kansas, the rest of Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, the rest of North Dakota, the rest of South Dakota, the rest of Texas, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

The congressional race I’ve chosen to focus on in that field is the one taking place in Minnesota’s 1st district between Republican Jim Hagedorn and Democrat Dan Feehan. This one’s an open seat that most prognosticators have listed as a toss-up with almost no polling. Given that Hagedorn is such an awful candidate, Republicans have pinned their hopes on one of the most outrageous ads produced this year by the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Of course, I’ll also be keeping an eye on two senate races that are the most likely to decide which party will gain a majority in that body. That includes the one in North Dakota between incumbent Democrat Heidi Heitkamp and Republican Kevin Cramer as well as the biggie in Texas between incumbent Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Beto O’Rourke.

10 pm – polls close in southern Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Nevada, part of one county in Oregon, Utah.

While polls close in Arizona at 9 pm eastern, that state doesn’t report any results until an hour later and then makes a big dump all at once. So I’ll be watching what they show at 10 pm for the senate race between Republican Martha McSally and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. Polls give the latter a slight edge. The other senate race to keep an eye on is the one in Nevada between incumbent Republican Dean Heller and Democrat Jacky Rosen. Most prognosticators are calling that one a toss up, but polls in that state have historically underrepresented Democrats.

11 pm – polls close in California, Hawaii, the rest of Idaho, the rest of Oregon, Washington.

By this time we’ll hopefully have a pretty good idea of whether or not a blue wave materialized, so I haven’t chosen any of the races in these states to focus on. That will leave us with plenty of interesting things to talk about on Wednesday.

That’s my list. Feel free to include your own in the comments and we’ll see you back here for the results later tonight.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.