Julia Kurnik is also a co-author of this Guide.
If this night is great for Republicans and a nightmare for Democrats, well those headlines were written weeks, if not months, in advance. The mid-point of expectations is that Democrats will lose seats in the Senate but will maintain their majority by one to three seats, lose enough seats to give Republicans control of the House of Representatives and get shellacked in governors races while also losing control of many state legislatures. This, sadly for Democrats, is the scenario we will call "On Trend."
We will call the best scenario for Democrats the "Blue Escape" which is anything that involves retaining control of both sides of Capitol Hill, which really means holding onto control of the House of Representatives -- even by a single seat. It wouldn't hurt to win a few more than half of the too-close-to-call senate and gubernatorial races, but if you are a Democrat holding on to hope as long as possible, keep you eye on the House races unless and until the networks call control of the House. If this happens fairly early, say before 10:30 EDT or so, you may not want to stay up late. Read on and we will tell you what to watch to know if this will happen before the networks make their calls.
The best Republican scenario, "Red Wave" is anything that involves taking control of the Senate, or racking up truly historic gains in the House (beyond 50 to a 60 or 70 seat gain). We will get some evidence of whether this type of wave really did materialize for Republicans in the House fairly early, but any realistic hope for Republicans to win control of the Senate will only come quite late, likely needing victories in some or all of the western states' Senate races in Nevada, California, Washington and Alaska.
The CenteredPolitics Hour-by-Hour Guide will keep your attention tuned to the races that will determine which of these scenarios rule the evening (and perhaps the next morning -- and perhaps several following days as late votes are counted, or re-counted, and the efforts to spin continue.)
We will keep our eye on about half of the 37 Senate seats up for election. It would be a major surprise if Democrats lose any of their 6 solid seats including Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon, Vermont, two seats in New York, and we can put Delaware in this category as well with Christine O'Donnell as the Republican nominee. Keeping those 7 seats would assure the Democrats at least 47 seats, three short of the number they need (50 with the Vice President as tie breaking vote) heading into Election Night.
The Republicans only have 23 seats that are not up for election in 2010. In addition there are 12 solid Republican seats: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah. Adding these together Republicans start the evening with 35 seats and needing to win 16 of the 18 remaining seats to get to 51 seats and control of the Senate in January (without any party switching going on).
The 18 Senate races to watch sorted by poll closing times with links to latest polls from Pollster:
(Republicans need 16, Democrats need just 3 - all times EDT):
*Polls close at different times throughout the state, so the time listed is the first time when a majority of polls in the state will be closed - this is the earliest time a network might choose to call a race.
The unbolded seats in the list above are most likely to come in for the Republicans, but even if they all fall into line, Democrats just need to win 3 of the 9 bolded contests to deny GOP a majority in the Senate.
We will also be following key races needed for control of the House of Representatives. While all of the seats in the House are up for election, there are about 70 seats that are truly going to decide control of the chamber. Watch these races closely, especially the ones that close early in the evening, in order to predict the outcome at the end of the night when all of the votes have been counted. These 70 races are detailed in the hour by hour guide below.
Finally, 37 of the 50 states will be holding gubernatorial elections as well and 13 of these are the most competitive.
The thirteen key Governors races sorted by poll closing times (EDT):
So go get whatever you're drinking and some crudités from the buffet and get ready for a long evening. Here is the CenteredPolitics.com Hour by Hour Guide to Election Night 2010.
6:00 PM EDT: Polls close in most of Indiana and just over half of Kentucky. The other parts of both states are in the Central Time Zone and their polls will close at 7 PM EDT, but if one candidate is doing well enough against their projections, the networks could make a call in the Kentucky Senate race as early as 6:00 PM.
Senate: The first big race to watch of the evening is the race for Jim Bunning's seat that pits Rand Paul (R, son of Ron Paul, a Tea Party and libertarian favorite) against Jack Conway (D, State Attorney General). Paul had some early stumbles, particularly over his views on the 1964 Civil Rights Act, but the latest polls put him well ahead. Kentucky Democrats and the progressive blogosphere hope Paul will suffer a late slide due to an incident where Tim Profitt, a volunteer Paul Campaign Coordinator assaulted Lauren Valle, a MoveOn.org activist outside a recent debate. A close race and a slow decision would be good signs for Democrats. Kentucky is one of the 18 states Republicans need to get 16 from, so an unlikely Conway win would by itself almost completely derail the Red Wave scenario. Pollster rating - Lean Rep.
D -- R
__ __ KY-6/Lean Dem:The first House race to watch of the night pits Ben Chandler (D) trying to hang onto his seat versus Garland Barr(R). Chandler voted for the Recovery Act and against health care reform.
7:00 PM: All polls close in Georgia, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia. Most of the polls close in New Hampshire, but thirteen towns keep their polls open an hour later. The majority of the polls also close in Florida and Indiana, but portions of each of these states are in the Central Time Zone and close an hour later.
Florida, Indiana, and New Hampshire are expected to give Republicans three more of the 16 out of 18 seats they need to win control. In Florida, former State House Speaker, Marco Rubio (R, Tea Party) continues to gain ground as moderates split their votes between Congressman Kendrick Meek (D) and Governor Charlie Crist (Ind), who lost the Republican primary to Rubio and is running as an independent (a close advisor to Crist told Washington Wire that Crist would caucus with the Democrats). With the 3-way race and votes to be counted in the Central Time Zone Panhandle, expect the announcement to come later in the evening.
Handicappers would view it as a major upset if Brad Ellsworth (D) were to beat former Senator Dan Coats (R) to retain Evan Bayh's former seat in Indiana, but we will not know until the votes are counted. Judd Gregg (R) is retiring in New Hampshire leaving an open seat. Former State Attorney General Kelly Ayotte (R) had a close win over a Tea Party candidate to get the Republican nomination, but is now in a strong position over Congressman Paul Hodes (D). The vote count is worth watching because New Hampshire voters are notoriously hard to predict.
House: There are fifteen CenteredPolitics Top-70 races as polls close at 7 PM, and Florida has six of them.
D -- R
__ __ NH-1/Lean Rep: Incumbent Carol Shea-Porter (D) is fighting for a third term against former Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta (R).
__ __ NH-2/Toss Up: The open seat race (Paul Hodes-D is running for senate) pits former Rep. Charlie Bass (R) against Ann McLane Kuster (D) in a close contest.
__ __ VA-5/Lean Rep: Incumbent Tom Perriello (D) versus State Senator Robert Hurt (R) is a race to watch. Perriello won this traditionally Republican district that includes the University of Virginia in the 2008 Obama surge and cast brave votes for health care reform, cap and trade, and the rest of the Obama agenda and has trailed all year. Can an Obama rally, and a Presidential mention on the Daily Show, and then an appearance on the Colbert Report lift him to victory?
__ __ VA-2/Lean Rep: Incumbent Glenn Nye (D), also an Obama surge freshman, is more conservative but faces a tough challenge from car dealer Scott Rigel (R) in a conservative military district.
__ __ SC-5/Lean Rep: Incumbent John Spratt (D) is hoping to defeat Mick Mulvaney (R) who is challenging Spratt's votes for TARP, the Recovery Act, and healthcare.
__ __ GA-2/Toss Up: Incumbent Sanford Bishop Jr. (D) is looking for a 10th term against State Rep. Mike McKeown (R).
__ __ GA-8/Lean Rep: Incumbent Jim Marshall (D) is one of the most conservative Democrats, so this race against State Rep. Austin Scott (R) has been more about personal attacks than policy.
__ __ FL-2/Lean Rep: Incumbent Allen Boyd (D - Blue Dog) is being challenged by Steve Southerland (R) in this panhandle district where his vote for healthcare reform is as problematic as his 14 years in Washington.
__ __ FL-8/Lean Rep: Incumbent Alan Grayson (D) gets noticed for his outbursts on the House floor, but now faces a tough battle against former State Senator Daniel Webster (R).
__ __ FL-12/Toss Up: This Republican leaning I-4 corridor district has an open three-way race (Adam Putnam-R is retiring) pitting Dennis Ross (R) against Randy Wilkinson (Tea Party) and giving Lori Edwards (D) a rare opportunity to score a pick up for the Democrats.
__ __ FL-22/Lean Rep: Incumbent Ron Klein (D) is trying hold off Iraqi war veteran Allen West (R) in a rematch of a close 2008 race, in this senior heavy gerrymandered district along the beach from West Palm to Pompano.
__ __ FL-24/Lean Rep: Incumbent Suzanne Kosmas (D) is looking to hold onto a seat she barely won in the 2008 Obama surge. She voted "yes" on healthcare reform so Republicans are pouring in money to help Sandra Adams (R).
__ __ FL-25/Toss Up: This open seat in a largely Cuban district pits Joe Garcia (D) against David Rivera (R). This is a "Red to Blue" target for the DCCC.
__ __ In-2/Lean Dem: Incumbent Joe Donnelly (D-Blue Dog) is facing State House Leader, Jackie Walorski (R) and is trying to convince voters he's independent of Speaker Pelosi.
__ __ In-9/Lean Dem: Another incumbent Blue Dog, Baron Hill (D), is battling lawyer Todd Young (R) and trying to defend challenges to his votes for healthcare reform, cap and trade, and the Recovery Act.
Governor: New Hampshire Governor John Lynch (D) should win re-election over John Stephen (R), and in South Carolina Mark Sanford is expected to be followed by another Republican, Nikki Haley. The more competitive races closing at 7:00 are Florida -- Alex Sink (D) vs. Rick Scott (R), Georgia -- former Governor Roy Barnes (D) vs. Rep. Nathan Deal (R), and Vermont where Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie is trying to keep this blue state governorship in Republican hands against State Senate President Peter Shumlin.
7:30 PM: Polls close in North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia.
Senate: West Virginia is the first true toss-up of the night. Popular long-time Senator Robert Byrd (D) died earlier this year, and his temporary replacement, Carte Goodwin, is not running. Governor Joe Manchin (D) and businessman John Raese (R) have been locked in a tight race about who can be more anti-liberal agenda. If Manchin wins, the magic number for Democrats in the Senate would drop from 3 to just 2 but don't expect a quick call. Pollster rating - Lean Dem.
House: Six Top 70 races (5 D incumbents and 1 open D seat) close at this time.
D -- R
__ __ NC-7/Lean Dem: 14 year incumbent Mike McIntyre (D) is in a close race against Ilario Pantano
__ __ NC-8/Toss Up: Incumbent Larry Kissell (D) is another Obama surge Democrat, getting a lot of help from the NEA in a conservative district.
__ __ OH-6/Toss Up: Congressman Charlie Wilson (D) is fighting for a third term against Bill Johnson (R), but is busy defending votes for healthcare and the stimulus in this economically hard-hit area of Ohio.
__ __ OH-18/Toss Up: Fellow Ohio incumbent Zack Space (D), running in a neighboring district, is also hoping for a third term, but is in a tight race against Bob Gibbs (R).
__ __ OH-16/Lean Rep: Freshman incumbent John Boccieri (D) is being challenged by Jim Renacci (R) as he tries to keep his seat after being elected as part of the Obama surge.
__ __ WV-1/Lean Dem: Congressman Alan Mollohan held the seat since 1983 but lost in the primary to State Senator Mike Oliverio (D), a far more conservative Democrat who is battling former State Rep. David McKinley (R).
Governor: Ohio, a traditional swing state, has a divisive battle for governor. Incumbent Ted Strickland (D) is seeking re-election against former Congressman John Kasich (R). This state is getting a lot of national attention, since both parties would be eager to have the state's governor's seat going into the 2012 election for President. Pollster rating - Toss Up.
All times are Eastern Daylight Savings Time (EDT.)
8:00 PM: The pace picks up quite a bit with polls closing statewide in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. The majorities of Michigan and Texas will also close, but small pieces of each state are in Mountain Time and will close at 9 PM EDT. Polls begin to close in South Dakota and Kansas, but the majority of these state's polls will not close until 9 PM.
Senate: As many as eight races could be called quite quickly including Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) who should win easily for the Republicans and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) should be called quickly for the Democrats. With the defeat of Mike Castle by Christine O'Donnell in the Republican primary, Joe Biden's former seat in Delaware also looks like a fairly early call for Democrat Chris Coons.
Republican chances for a takeover of the Senate would be helped a great deal if they could take Chris Dodd's former seat in Connecticut. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) appears to be pulling ahead of professional wrestling magnate Linda McMahon (R) and if he notches a win this would be counted among the three victories Democrats need to maintain control of the Senate. Both candidates were engaged in street campaigning during the final days leading up to the election. Pollster rating - Strong Dem.
If Connecticut is moving toward the Democrat, Missouri seems to be leaning toward the GOP. Handicappers would be surprised if Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) managed to beat former Representative Roy Blunt (R) in, but the votes have not yet been counted. Pollster rating - Lean Rep.
In Pennsylvania, Progressive darling Representative Joe Sestak (D) defeated the establishment candidate Republican-turned-Democratic Senator Arlen Specter, in the Democratic primary, after Specter switched parties. He is now in an uphill battle against Pat Toomey (R), who is backed by the Tea Party. There have been attempts to link Toomey to Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell in neighboring Delaware. Pollster rating - Lean Rep.
The 8:00 hour brings one real toss-up race that we expect to be watching as votes are counted for many hours, President Obama's former seat in Illinois. Embattled Senator Roland Burris is not running for election, leaving an open seat between State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D) and Representative Mark Kirk (R). Do not expect an early call in this close and contentious race that would count toward the Democrats' magic number of 3 if Giannoulias were to pull ahead.
House: A lot happens at 8 PM in House races as well with an additional 22 of CenteredPolitics' Top-70 races closing. At this juncture we should have some idea which scenario is coalescing. If the marks below, combined with the ones coming in from earlier closing states, are split fairly evenly, we are On Trend. More than half and the RED Wave is cresting. The Blue Escape would need nearly all of them to fall in the D column.
D - R
__ __ PA-3/Lean Rep: This is one of five races in PA where Democratic incumbents are looking to keep their seats. In the northwest edge of the state, Kathy Dahlkemper (D) won the seat in 2008 and has been successful at fundraising, but her "yes" vote on healthcare is being challenged by her opponent, former Notre Dame football star Mike Kelly (R).
__ __ PA-8/Toss Up: North of Philadelphia, Iraqi war veteran Patrick Murphy (D) is fighting for re-election after four years in office, challenged by Michael Fitzpatrick (R) in a well-funded race on both sides.
__ __ PA-10/Toss Up: Near Scranton, incumbent Chris Carney (D) has also been in the House for 4 years and is being challenged by Thomas Marino (R). Vice President Biden has come to campaign in his hometown and Carney has far out-raised Marino, but Republican PACs are pouring in money.
__ __ PA-11/Toss Up: In the neighboring district including Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, Paul Kanjorski (D) is also enjoying Biden's support. Kanjorski has held the seat since 1984 and is facing Lou Barletta (R) for the third time in the closest race yet.
__ __ PA-12/Lean Dem: This southwestern district leans Democratic, but newly appointed Mark Critz (D) but who replaced John Murtha about 6 months ago is in a close race against Tim Burns (R).
__ __ NJ-3/Toss Up: Freshman John Adler (D) is hoping to win re-election against former Eagles football star Jon Runyan(R). Adler voted against healthcare, and is now facing allegations that he helped get a Tea Party candidate on the ballot.
__ __ MI-7/Lean Dem: Incumbent Mark Schauer (D) fasces Tim Walberg (R) in a rematch of 2008.
__ __ MI-9/Lean Dem: Freshman Congressman Gary Peters (D) faces Rocky Raczkowski (R). Peters has the fundraising edge but is being challenged to defend his support for nearly all of the "Obama/Pelosi agenda."
__ __ MO-4/Lean Dem: Long-time incumbent Ike Skelton (D) is proving that over three decades in the House no longer guarantees easy re-election. Vicky Hartzler (R) is challenging Skelton in a region that used to be solid, rural Democratic territory.
__ __ MS-4/Toss Up: A 22 year House veteran, Gene Taylor (D) is counting on a large African American turnout to hold off Steven Palazzo(R).
__ __ MS-1/Lean Rep: Freshman Travis Childers (D) faces Alan Nunnelee (R). Childers is also being hit from the left by MoveOn.org for taking funding from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
__ __ TN-8/Lean Rep: John Tanner (D), one of the original Blue Dogs is retiring after 22 years and throwing his support behind Roy Herron (D) who looks to follow in his footsteps if elected. He faces farmer and gospel singer Stephen Fincher (R).
__ __ TX-17/Lean Rep: Incumbent Chet Edwards (D) has kept his seat in a Republican leaning district, including Waco, for twenty years. He is being challenged by Bill Flores (R). Hispanic voters are the key to this one.
__ __ TX-23/Lean Rep: In the southwest, Ciro Rodriguez (D) is seeking a third term against Quico Canseco (R) in a districts that is two thirds Hispanic.
Governor: There are five key Governor's races that close at 8:00: Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Illinois.
Democratic Incumbents are looking to defend their seats in Maryland, Massachusetts, and Illinois. In Maryland, Martin O'Malley (D-MD) is battling former Governor Robert Ehrlich (R) in a re-match of 2006. Pollster rating - Lean Dem.
In Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick (D) is running for a second term against former health executive Charlie Baker (R) and State Treasurer Tim Cahill (Ind). He is ahead in polls, but no one would rule out another Massachusetts surprise in this election. Pollster rating - Lean Dem.
In Illinois, Governor Patrick Quinn (D) is facing conservative State Senator Bill Brady (R). Brady has little name recognition, particularly in Chicago, but Quinn is still facing a tough battle. His state has a $12 billion deficit and he was Lt. Gov. under Rod Blagojevich, giving him quite a hole to climb out of in order to win. Pollster rating - Lean Rep.
There are open seats up for grabs in Maine and Minnesota. In Maine, Governor John Baldacci (D) is term-limited. State Senator Libby Mitchell (D) is battling Waterville Mayor Paul LePage (R). Mitchell only enjoys lukewarm support, but LePage may be too conservative for this moderate state and former aide to Senator Edmund Muskie, Independent Eliot Cutler is rising in late polling. Pollster rating - Lean Rep.
There is also a three-way race going on in Minnesota. Governor Tim Pawlenty (R) is retiring, and former senator Mark Dayton (D) is ahead in polls over State Representative Tom Emmer (R) and Tom Horner (Ind.). Pollster rating - Lean Dem.
Incumbent Governor Rick Perry (R) is leading Houston Mayor Bill White (D) in Texas. In Connecticut, Governor Jodi Rell (R) is retiring, and Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy (D) is in a tight race with former Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley (R). Pollster rating - Toss Up.
Handicappers would be taken by surprise if Democrats were to capture any of the open seats in Alabama, Michigan, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. In Alabama, State Congressman Robert Bentley (R) is running against Commissioner of AgricultureRon Sparks (D). In Michigan, embattled governor Jennifer Granholm (D) is stepping down due to term limits, leaving a fight between Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero (D) and businessman Rick Snyder (R). In Oklahoma, Lt. Gov Jari Askins (D) is trying to keep this seat blue but it looks like former Lt. Gov. and now Congresswoman Mary Fallin (R) will pull through. In swing-state Pennsylvania, Governor Ed Rendell (D) is term-limited. State Attorney General Tom Corbett (R) is trying to beat out Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato (D). Finally, in Tennessee, Governor Phil Bredesen (D) is yet another term-limited Democrat. Mike McWherter (D) is fighting an uphill battle against Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam (R).
8:30 PM: Only Arkansas closes at 8:30 PM.
Senate: Congressman John Boozman (R) leads incumbent Blanche Lincoln (D-AR). Senator Lincoln faced an extremely tough primary challenge, with progressive-supported Bill Halter forcing the race into a run-off. Yet, after barely overcoming the challenge from the left, with support from former President Bill Clinton, she now is seen as likely to lose to the right. Her "yes" votes on TARP, the Recovery Act, and healthcare reform have set her up as a primary target for Republicans in this conservative state. Pollster rating - Strong Rep.
House: Just one of CenteredPolitics' Top-70 races is closing at this time, but it is attracting national attention.
D - R
__ __ AR-1/Toss Up: Incumbent Marion Berry (D) is retiring after 14 years. His former staffer Chad Causey (D) is facing Rick Crawford (R). This seat has been in Democratic hands for over a century, but Republicans believe it is theirs in 2010.
Governor: In Arkansas, incumbent Mike Beebe (D) enjoys widespread popularity and should coast to a victory here over Jim Keet(R).
9:00 PM: A lot of mountain and Midwestern states are closed at this point, giving us an idea how this region is voting. The remaining eastern states also close. Statewide polls close in Colorado, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The rest of the polls in South Dakota close at this point. Polls continue to close in Kansas and networks may call the state at this time, but a few polling stations will remain open as late as 11 PM, making this state potentially tricky to call.
This is likely to be the hour where the pace of news is almost as important as the news itself. Republicans would, of course, like to hear House race after House race called their way as the Red Wave develops. If the evening feels like it is grinding to a halt, it may mean better news for Democrats, with slower vote counting suggesting closer races making the expected On Trend scenario more likely, and opening the possibility for the Blue Escape if most races fall to their side.
An early announcement that Democrats have retained control of the Senate is possible but not very likely during this hour, but it matters a great deal whether the Democrats' magic number has dropped from 3 to 2 (most likely with a win for Blumenthal in Connecticut), or even 1 (perhaps with a Manchin win in West Virginia).
Senate: There are two seats up for election in New York because state law requires Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) earn the seat she was appointed to fill when Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State. Neither this seat nor that of Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) seems likely to fall to the GOP, and calls are likely to be made fairly quickly. Jerry Moran (R-KS) should easily win in Kansas, keeping Sam Brownback's seat in Republican hands, and Senator John Thune (R-SD) is not even facing a Democratic challenger.
Incumbent David Vitter (R-LA) will most likely win re-election in Louisiana against Congressman Charlie Melancon (D). Melancon's hard hitting ads reminding voters that Vitter has faced prostitution charges don't seem to have had an effect, but voters' negative feelings about President Obama and the Democrats in Washington have.
In Wisconsin, three-term incumbent Senator Russ Feingold (D) is facing a very tough challenge from businessman Ron Johnson (R) who has had success painting Feingold as a "Washington insider." Feingold has fashioned himself as an independent progressive Democrat with a "no" vote on TARP because it didn't go far enough, but "yes" votes strongly defended for the Recovery Act and healthcare reform, despite the omission of the "public option" which Feingold championed. Pollster rating - Lean Rep.
Colorado is another true toss-up race that could determine control of the Senate. Senator Michael Bennet (D) was appointed to fill Ken Salazar's seat and barely survived a challenge from the left by Andrew Romanoff. His opponent, County District Attorney Ken Buck, defeated mainstream candidate Lt. Gov. Jane Norton to win the Republican primary by running at her from the right. Buck has strong support from the Tea Party, has compared being gay to alcoholism and supports repealing the 17th Amendment allowing for the direct election of senators.
House: Eleven races are worth watching at this hour. New York finally closes its polls at this hour, bringing three of them.
D -- R
__ __ NY-19/Toss Up: Incumbent John Hall (D) hopes to claim a third term against Nan Hayworth (R) in this close race. He is a reliably liberal vote, voting for healthcare reform and the Recovery Act, in a swing region.
__ __ NY-23/Lean Rep: Incumbent Bill Owens (D) won here a little over a year ago in a special election after a moderate Republican dropped out and endorsed him to prevent a Conservative Party candidate from winning. He now defends his seat against Matt Doheny (R) as well as Doug Hoffman (Conservative), the same spoiler from a year ago.
__ __ NY-24/Lean Dem: Congressman Michael Arcuri (D) won this typically Republican seat in 2006, but nearly lost it to Richard Hanna (R) in 2008, who is challenging him again this year.
__ __ LA-2/Lean Dem: Cedric Richmond (D) is positioned to win against one term incumbent Joseph Cao (R) who won in this traditionally Democratic district due to scandals faced by former Rep. William Jefferson. Both candidates are expressing support for Obama and pointing to their agreement with his policies in this district which is over 60% African American.
__ __ KS-3: Incumbent Dennis Moore (D) is retiring, but his wife Stephene Moore (D) hopes to keep the seat in the family. She is running against Kevin Yoder (R).
__ __ WI-7/Lean Rep: Congressman Obey is retiring, and State Senator Julie Lassa (D) hopes to keep this seat blue against Real World cast member Sean P. Duffy (R), who enjoys Tea Party support.
__ __ WI-8/Lean Rep: Congressman Steven Kagen (D) is defending his votes for healthcare reform and the Recovery Act while pointing out that challenger Reid Ribble (R) has questioned the legitimacy of Social Security. Many voters remain undecided quite close to Election Day.
__ __ SD-1/Toss Up: Incumbent Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D) is a conservative Democrat hoping to keep her seat against a challenge from Kristi Noem (R), a far-right conservative.
__ __ CO-3/Lean Rep: Incumbent John Salazar (D), brother of Ken Salazar, is defending his seat of six years against Scott Tipton (R) for the second time. He is generally moderate in this district which is balanced by rural Republicans and the liberal, wealthy ski crowd.
__ __ CO-4/Lean Rep: Congresswoman Betsey Markey (D) is a freshman elected during the Obama surge hoping to continue to represent this district, but is being challenged by State House Minority Whip Cory Gardner (R). On the Daily Show, President Obama praised Markey for taking "tough votes."
__ __ NM-2/Lean Rep: Incumbent Harry Teague (D) is a freshman who won in the Obama surge after over 30 years of Republican rule in this district. Teague is defending his votes for the Recovery Act and cap and trade while trying to win against former Representative Steve Pearce (R). Both candidates are criticizing each other as the true "Washington insider" in this contentious race.
Governor: Republicans should have wins with Senator Sam Brownback (R) in Kansas, Governor Dave Heineman (R) in Nebraska, Dennis Daugaard (R) in South Dakota, and Matt Mead (R) in Wyoming. Democrats should have no trouble holding on to New York with Andrew Cuomo (D) and Colorado with Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper (D).
With Bill Richardson (D) retiring, New Mexico will most likely go to Dona Ana District Attorney Susana Martinez (R), but Lt. Gov. Diane Denish is still fighting hard. Denish is opposed to Arizona's new immigration law and Martinez supports it. Pollster rating - Lean Rep.
Rhode Island and Wisconsin are the states to watch this hour. In Rhode Island, Donald Carcieri (R) is leaving due to term-limits and a three-way race is on to replace him. His aide, John Robitaille (R) is unlikely to win, but may prove the spoiler in a race between State Treasurer Frank Caprio (D) and former Senator Lincoln Chafee (Ind.). Pollster rating - Lean Ind. In Wisconsin, Governor James Doyle (D), is retiring due to low popularity, leaving an open seat behind. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) is running against Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker (R). Pollster rating - Lean Rep.
10:00 PM: Statewide polls close in Arizona, Iowa, Nevada, and Utah. The majority of polls close in Idaho at this point and networks may feel safe to call the state, but a portion of Idaho is on Pacific Time and so those polls will not close until 11 PM. Polls also begin to close in North Dakota, but time zones and poll closing times vary, with the rest of polls not closing until 11:00 PM EDT. If the race is looking safe, though, networks may call North Dakota before 11:00 eastern.
Senate: There is really the only state to watch at this hour, Nevada. Incumbents John McCain (R-AZ), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Mike Crapo (R-ID) should all win easily. With the retirement of longtime Senator Byron Dorgan (D), it looks like John Hoeven (R) will turn North Dakota red. Incumbent Bob Bennett (R-UT) was ousted by primary voters, but his seat should be very safe in this Republican state, sending former Alito Clerk Mike Lee (R) to Washington, D.C.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is in a neck-and-neck battle with the far-right, Tea Party backed, Sharron Angle (R) who defeated several establishment candidates for the Republican nomination. Reid is deeply unpopular in his home state, but Angle is extremely gaffe-prone and has faced intense scrutiny on several issues such as the repeal of Social Security. This one will be decided by get out the vote efforts in this strong union state, and how large the Hispanic vote is and how it breaks. Pollster rating - Lean Rep.
House: Seven of CenteredPolitics' Top-70 races close at this hour, but Arizona is really the state to watch, with four Democrats looking to defend their seats.
D - R
__ __ IA-3/Lean Dem: Congressman Leonard Boswell (D) seeking an eighth term is defending his votes for TARP, the Recovery Act and healthcare reform while challenger Brad Zaun (R) trumpets smaller government.
__ __ ND-1/Lean Rep: Longtime incumbent Earl Pomeroy (D) is hoping he can keep his seat against Rick Berg (R) in this difficult election and despite Senator Dorgan's retirement.
__ __ NV-3/Lean Rep: Freshman Dina Titus (D) hopes to continue to represent this district just south of Las Vegas. She is challenged by Joe Heck (R) in a close race that may go the same way as the Senate race.
__ __ AZ-1/Lean Rep: Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick (D), a freshman, has been defending her votes on healthcare reform and the Recovery Act. Dentist Paul Gosar (R) hopes that the current anti-establishment climate and Kirkpatrick's opposition to Arizona's immigration law is enough to defeat her.
__ __ AZ-5/Toss Up: Harry Mitchell (D) was elected in 2006 in this Republican leaning district. He defeated David Schweikert (R) in 2008, but is now in a closer race in this year's rematch.
__ __ AZ-7: In the southwest corner bordering Mexico, incumbent Raul Grijalva (D) is defending his seat of eight years against Ruth McClung (R). Grijalva lost support when he called for a boycott of his own state after Arizona's tough new immigration law passed. Handicappers Charlie Cook and Larry Sabato have changed their rankings to reflect a tightening race.
__ __ AZ-8/Toss Up: Incumbent Gabrielle Giffords (D) has raised a lot of money to keep her seat after 4 years in office. Challenger Jesse Kelly (R) is pointing to Giffords' voting record on cap and trade, healthcare reform, and the Recovery Act to argue that she is out of touch with her conservative district.
Governor: All 5 gubernatorial races shutting down at 10 PM should go to the Republicans. Four of these seats are currently held by the Republican Party, with only Iowa switching sides here.
In Iowa, incumbent Chet Culver (D) has had a rough first term and former Governor Terry Branstad (R) seems likely to take back the Mansion. In Arizona, Governor Jan Brewer (R), infamous yet popular in-state for her anti-immigration law, should easily win over Attorney General Terry Goddard (D). Utah incumbent Gary Herbert (R) should also keep his seat against Peter Corroon (D) in a special election. In Idaho, yet another incumbent, CL Otter (R) seem on track to defend against former Harvard professor Keith Allred. And finally, in Nevada, Rory Reid (D), son of Harry Reid, looks to be in trouble against Judge Brian Sandoval (R).
11:00 PM: At this point, all of the 48 contiguous state polls will be closed. Statewide polls close in California. Most of the polls in Washington and Oregon officially close at this time, but don't be surprised by an early call - they may be called earlier in the evening. The majority of voters in these two northwestern states vote by mail, an unusual process, and therefore the large majority of ballots may already be counted earlier in the evening.
Senate: Incumbent Ron Wyden (D-OR) is quite secure and this should be called quickly. California and Washington are both tight races, however, and if the Democrats' magic number is still 2 heading into these races then they will need to win both of them to retain control of the Senate. If the magic number is just one then they only need one of them.
In California, Senator Barbara Boxer (D) is seeking a fourth term. Boxer has maintained a lead, gaining support with women and independent voters, by hammering her opponent Carly Fiorina (R) for her record on jobs while she was CEO of Hewlett-Packard and by forcefully defending health care reform and the Recovery Act. Pollster rating - Lean Dem.
In Washington another "Year of the Woman" Democratic incumbent, Senator Patty Murray (D), is facing a tough challenge from Dino Rossi (R), who has lost bids for the governorship twice but remains popular statewide. Murray's leadership role in the Senate and close proximity to Harry Reid are hurting her and late polls show the race tightening to a dead heat. Pollster rating - Toss Up.
House: The House may be decided by the time these polls close if this is a Red Wave election or even if things are merely playing out On Trend, but if the Blue Escape scenario is still in play, the night may be long and the races in the Pacific states might write the ending of the story.
D -- R
__ __ OR-5/Toss Up: Freshman Kurt Schrader (D) is running against Scott Bruun (R) in this Democratic-trending district. In most years Schrader would be in good shape, but the anti-incumbent sentiment this fall has kept this close.
__ __ WA-3/Lean Rep: Congressman Brian Baird (D) is retiring after 12 years in office. Former State Rep. Denny Heck (D) is trying to keep the seat for Democrats against State Rep. Jaime Herrera (R). This district has extremely high unemployment.
__ __ WA-8/Lean Rep: Suzan DelBene (D) hopes to unseat six-year incumbent Dave Reichert (R). The area trends Republican in general but gave Obama 57% of the vote in 2008.
__ __ CA-3/Lean Rep: West of Sacramento, this gerrymandered Republican district has faced a massive housing bust. Incumbent Dan Lungren(R) still has the edge, but Ami Bera (D) has far out-raised him and is making a fight for this potential Democratic pick-up.
__ __ CA-11/Lean Rep: Incumbent Jerry McNerney (D) was first elected in 2006 and survived a tough race in 2008. This time around, he is being challenged by David Harmer (R). The district East of San Francisco is a quarter Hispanic and 13% Asian.
__ __ CA-20/Lean Dem: In this heavily Hispanic district south of Fresno, incumbent Jim Costa (D) is defending his seat of 6 years against Andy Vidak (R). Costa has the edge but Vidak has had a successful fundraising campaign.
Governor: The last two gubernatorial swing races close at 11 PM. In California, former Governor Jerry Brown (D) has opened up a lead against E-bay CEO Meg Whitman (R) despite record levels of advertising spending. Pollster rating - Lean Dem.
In Oregon, incumbent Ted Kulongoski (D) is term-limited and former governor John Kitzhaber (D) wants to keep this seat blue. He is being challenged by former NBA player Chris Dudley (R). Pollster rating - Toss Up.
12:00 AM: Statewide polls close in Hawaii. Most of the polls in Alaska close, but a few small islands keep their polls open later. Since so few people live on those islands, the state is usually called at this point.
Senate: Democrats are almost definitely assured of one piece of good news as the night turns to November 3, since Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) should easily win re-election for the 9th time.
Alaska is heavily leaning Republican, but might throw up a late surprise. Incumbent Lisa Murkowski (R) has held the seat for 10 years but fell to a challenge from the right when war veteran Joe Miller (R) was endorsed by Sarah Palin and secured the Republican nomination. Senator Murkowski is now running as a write-in candidate against both Miller and Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams (D), who hopes that somehow Murkowski and Miller split the Republican vote and he is able to sneak out a surprise win. Miller has had some missteps, leaving the race wide open. Should she win, Murkowski has confirmed that she will caucus with the Republicans.
House: To close out the night, Democrats hope to capture a Republican seat in Hawaii as the last race to watch of the night.
D -- R
__ __ HI-1/Toss Up: Incumbent Charles Djou (R) has been in office for less than year, winning a special election when Neil Abercrombie left to run for governor. He is being challenged by Colleen Hanabusa (D).
Governor: Alaska and Hawaii both have gubernatorial elections governor, but it is unlikely that either race will bring many surprises. Governor Sean Parnell (R), the replacement for Sarah Palin, is running for his first full-term in Alaska against Ethan Berkowitz (R) and should win easily.
In Hawaii, Governor Linda Lingle (R) is term-limited. Former Congressman Neil Abercrombie (D) should be able to beat Lt. Gov.Duke Aiona.
At some point the vote counting will stop, and we can start analyzing what went right and wrong over the past two years and what we can do about all of the issues the next Congress will face. Whatever happens on Election Night, it is worth remembering that America will still be, as John Stewart and Stephen Colbert sang here in Washington on Sunday, "the greatest, strongest country in the world." We will have a lot to do to solve our problems but nothing to fear that is a greater threat than fear itself.