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Up In The Air

Plan on following the midterm results on Tuesday? Here's what to watch out for

If you plan on following the midterm results, here’s what’s expect to make it easier for you to spot a political upset.

Midterm Option 2 (1)

SO WE’RE ALMOST at the US midterms. For those that want to follow the results to see how well the Republicans and Democrats do, here’s a quick briefing on what we’re expecting to happen.

To clarify: this isn’t what we want to happen. Based on the information we already have, polls, and the way certain states tend to vote, as well as the analysis by experts, we’re expecting a few things.

Firstly, we’re expecting the House of Representatives to go back into the hands of the Democrats. Their candidates are performing strongly in the polls, and they’ve a strategic advantage. Incumbent candidates tend to have an advantage in elections, but a record number of Republicans – 39 – aren’t rerunning for office in these midterms. That gives new candidates a great chance at gaining seats.

The Senate is expected to stay in Republican control, which is vital to offset any threat of impeachment. Further from that, it’s likely that Republicans will gain seats. A third of the 100 Senate seats are up for grabs in this midterm; of those 35 seats, 26 are Democrat seats and just 9 are Republicans’, meaning the GOP have less to lose in this election.

Of those 26 Democrat seats, 10 of them are in states that Donald Trump won during the 2016 presidential election.

We’re also expecting turnout to be higher than an average midterm – which is an important indicator. If the turnout is higher than the midterm average of in the 40-percentiles, it would indicate that Democrats are turning up to vote, as traditionally Republicans are more likely to vote in the midterms.

Finally, as we watch the midterm results roll in on Tuesday night, they will come from the east coast first, and gradually move across the country, with states like California coming in last.

We’ll be Liveblogging the results from 10pm if you’d like to keep up with the main flashpoints of the election results. 

Reactions to U.S. Presidential Election Results in Recife SIPA USA / PA Images SIPA USA / PA Images / PA Images

Here’s where to keep an eye out for on election night as an early indicator on whether it’s a ‘blue’ or ‘red wave. Let’s start with the Senate.


There’s a good chance the Republicans will make gains in the Senate. This is because of the 26 Democratic seats up for grabs, 10 of them are in states that Trump won in 2016.

The Republicans are defending just one seat that’s in a state won by Hillary Clinton.

Here’s some of what we’re expecting.

Arizona will get its first female senator no matter the vote on Tuesday: the latest poll shows that Republican  Martha McSally has a comfortable lead over Democrat Krysten Sinema in a 52%/45% split.

In Florida, a state which is always vital in the presidential race, Trump won in 2016, one of the early indicators that he would go on to defeat Hillary Clinton.

Democrat Senator Bill Nelson is defending his seat in this state against Republican Governor Rick Scott. The race is seen as close but is perhaps a must-win for Democrats – at the moment the share is 52% to 48% in their favour.

Similarly in Indiana, the incumbent Democrat Senator Joe Donnelly is defending his seat against Mike Braun. Trump carried the state comfortably in 2016, but Donnelly is inching ahead in the polls.

Nevada is another interesting one. A recent New York Times poll put Republican Dean Heller just two points ahead of Democrat Jacky Rosen, so it could go either way on the day. The Guardian called Heller “the most vulnerable Republican incumbent”. 

In West Virginia, Joe Manchin is one of two Democrats poised well for a chance at claiming a Senate seat in the strongly Republican state: but often takes conservative positions – but both are at odds with their own party on many issues. Richard Ojeda, the other Democratic state Senator running in West Virginia, voted for Trump.

Should Republicans steal Nevada, North Dakota or Indiana — the party is likely to retain its Senate majority, according to some experts.

If the Senate is split 50-50 after the midterms, the Republicans will have an advantage as Vice President Mike Pence holds a tie-breaking vote.

The House

Fox News The Fox News prediction for the House. Fox News Fox News

Because we’re dealing with a lot more numbers here, and a random allocation of House seats per state, things are a little more complicated here.

According to the NPR politics podcast, Pennsylvania is seen as one of the most important states by both parties. Democrats are already almost certain to win four seats – if they get up to 6, that would be an early sign that Democrats will have gained a majority in the House.

In New Jersey, the suburban state has four seats formerly held by Republicans that Democrats feel they have a chance of winning.

One of those seats is held by Tom McArthur, a Republican who was strongly against Obamacare. As the Democrats have been focusing on access to healthcare as a major issue in the run up to the midterms, if that seat is won by the Democrats, it’s another indicator of a possible win for the party.

Map midterms We can't praise this enough: An interactive map from FiveThirtyEight on their Midterm election predictions. FiveThirtyEight FiveThirtyEight

Florida – which, to reiterate, is always a key state – has 27 House seats to fill, 11 of which are held by Democrats and 15 by Republicans. At the moment, it’s too close to call what the final result will be. Keep an eye on this one if you’re only to pick one to watch.

Wisconsin was one of the states that was seen as a Democratic certainty during the 2016 Presidential election, but that Trump won in the end. The former House Speaker Paul Ryan, who retired this year and Rience Priebus, who left as Trump’s chief of staff after 6 months, are both from this state.

In the latest poll, Republican Scott Walker is behind his Democratic challenger Tony Evers by 5 points.

California The prediction for California. FiveThirtyEight FiveThirtyEight

If the results are slow to come out, or if it’s evenly split, California could be a tie-breaker. There’s a lot of seats where Democrats are trying to pick off Republican incumbents. Many in California vote by mail, so it could roll into the next day before the majority in the House is revealed, if the race is very close.

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