We’re still trying to get a clear sense of the legal mechanics of Sessions de facto firing. There are legal particulars about the President’s powers depending on whether a cabinet secretary resigns or is fired. What seems clear is that this is the beginning move in ending the Mueller probe or, at least for now, putting it under the control of a Trump loyalist who is on the record saying that he believes the investigation is in fact illegitimate. The White House knows Mueller’s office is or was about to come out of pre-election hibernation and likely move to a series of new indictments.
We need to remember the context. The President and members of his entourage conspired with a foreign power to ascend to the presidency and has spent the bulk of his two years in office trying to evade the law. Rod Rosenstein had been suggesting to some of his more apolitical colleagues at the DOJ that they should be prepared for dramatic changes in leadership in the first days of November.
I’m going to start this morning with an email from TPM Reader JF. It’s a deeply pessimistic look at last night’s results. I thoroughly disagree with it. I’m publishing it partly because I like JF and like sharing a range of reader opinions but more because it’s a good statement of the view I disagree with. So it’s helpful to put out there as a clear, smart statement of the take I disagree with. Read More
Let me try to put this whole erratic evening into some perspective. This was definitely not one of those nights when a triumphant party drives everyone before it. The Senate results were brutal. There was a half hour or so mid-evening when it looked as though the whole thing might be a replay of the brutal 2016 result. There were key gubernatorial wins but also some disappointing misses – particularly Florida and Ohio. But I come out of tonight feeling good about the result. Why? The country is in a position where we don’t have the luxury of getting everything we want or getting overly disappointed if we don’t. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am that Gillum went down to defeat. But there was one absolutely critical thing that had to happen tonight: the Democrats had to reclaim a foothold of power in Washington to place a check on President Trump.
They did that. It wasn’t close. The victories had geographical breadth. That is critical.
A close race all night in TX-23. But it was finally called for incumbent Republican Will Hurd. But now 100% of the vote is in and his challenger Gina Ortiz Jones is ahead by almost 300 votes.
2:20 AM: We don’t have network calls yet. But the Nevada Independent says Heller lost. That means he lost. Meanwhile, it’s starting to seem like Tony Evers is going to beat Scott Walker. If he does that’s both a big moral victory and a critical political victory, looking forward to both 2020 and redistricting in 2021/22. Big deal. Finally, Karen Handel is up by just 57 votes after 100% of the precincts are reporting. That must mean a recount, though I confess I don’t know the precise rules in Georgia.
1:51 AM: Here’s a surprising one. President Trump basically ran Mark Sanford out of congress. Democrat Joe Cunningham seems to have won his seat.
2:00 AM: This is the guy who knows Nevada. Pretty clear to me Heller will go down to defeat.
Clark in, big leads for Sisolak and Rosen. This is almost over.
— Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) November 7, 2018
2:07 AM: Remember the state legislatures …
Here is our 2 am roundup:
7 Chambers Flipped blue:
WA Senate (Nov 2017)
— Jessica Post (@JessicaPost) November 7, 2018
2:14 AM: You can take this to the bank …
Rosen and Sisolak are going to win.
— Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) November 7, 2018
Interesting. Stacey Abrams’s campaign manager says they think this race will go to a run off. In Georgia you need to get over 50% to win. Right now it’s 51 to 48. Very hard to see how Abrams can possibly come back. But she doesn’t need to. She needs him to come under 50%. Then there’s a run off.
Now if it does go to a run-off that’s a tough position for Abrams since the Libertarian candidate, who got about 36,000 votes gets eliminated and presumably his votes mainly go to Kemp. I know party operatives also were worried about whether Abrams turnout coalition could manage the same blitz again in a month or so. Who knows? But this one may not be over.
Don’t forget this. Florida’s results tonight were bitter for Democrats. But Amendment 4 won. That’s the amendment to end the state’s practice of lifetime felon disenfranchisement. Allegra Kirkland wrote about the amendment in one of the installments in our voting rights and democracy series.
This is not only an importance victory on principle, for democracy and voting rights. It’s also an important development for the future shape of the Florida electorate.
Nets calls it for Spanberger, a key win, taking down a truly odious tea partier in what’s been a very Republican district.
Let me revise an earlier point. In the House, this is looking like a Democratic wave. There’s no inherent meaning to these words. It’s about interpretation and judgment. But this isn’t a squeak through result for the Democrats. They’re winning a lot of seats and in a lot of different kinds of districts. CNN just called Tenney and Faso going down to defeat in New York. We still haven’t gotten to California where Democrats could pick up several more seats.
New York State is looking very good for House Democrats.
NY-19: Delgado (55%), Faso (43%) with 38% in.
NY-22: Brindisi (53%), Tenney (47%) with 60% in.
Collins has been up and down, still a lot of results to go. Max Rose has already won the State Island district.
Look at the latest results in the map down to the right. Or you can go to this page.
LATE UDPATE: Delgago and Brindisi win, according to CNN call.
The Democrats are winning the House. This is the critical, critical result. Heartbreak in Florida and Georgia. But this is the critical thing for the future of the country.
10:11 PM: A good pick up for Dems. Max Rose defeats Dan Donovan in NY-11.
10:16 PM: No call but starting to seem like Abigail Spanberger is going to pull this off. She’s up by more than 2,000 votes with over 98% reporting.
10:23 PM: Collin Allred appears to have defeated Pete Sessions in Texas. Major pick up for Democrats.
10:26 PM: With about 50% reporting, Tony Evers has a 50,000 vote or so lead over Scott Walker. Not clear to me what the internal county breakdowns are there. But that’s a nice lead with 50%+ in.
Let’s take a deep breath. We’re not looking at a wave election, if by that we mean a night when all the races fall in one direction. The Senate almost certainly remains in Republican hands. But we knew that. Democrats remain traumatized by the shock results from 2016. Tonight has had more than a few moments that recalled that trauma and disappointment. But Democrats are putting together the numbers of flipped seats they will need to take the House. That is critical. Take a deep breath. A lot more votes to count. Democrats absolutely need to get a hold of a foothold of power in Washington. They appear to be on the way to do that.
Let’s say it. This is a much tighter, harder fought night that a lot of people thought. Joe Donnelly lost his seat in Indiana. Republicans have held Tennessee. It looks very tight in Florida and Republicans have the advantage in the Senate and Governor’s race. Democrats are still fairly well positioned to take the House. But it’s much more of a district by district slog than a wave. And there’s no guarantee as of 9:17 PM. A lot of counting to go.
9:25 PM: Here’s what the guy I follow in Florida says: “Florida Senate race is almost surely going to be in recount range. With what’s out in S FL, it should get very tight.”
9:31 PM: This has been a stressful night and we’ve already booked some key disappointments for the Democrats. But as of this moment Democrats appear to be booking the House victories they need for a majority in the House. I don’t mean they’ve won it. And it’s much closer than expected. But this is a district by district struggle now. And they’re – so far – getting the seats they absolutely need. Weirdly, it’s looking like Texas may net real pick-ups for the Dems.
9:42 PM: Perhaps this is stating the obvious. But the big take-away for tonight so far was that Democrats were energized but so were Republicans. That created big problems for Democrats in the Senate. And it at least limited Democratic gains in the House. Still a long way to go.
Nail biting time for the Dems. Top of the ticket races in Florida are super tight. Gillum and Nelson really need a lot of the votes in the South and it’s going to be tight.
Cook Report is calling KY-6 for Barr over McGrath. That’s a big win.
8:49 PM: AP calls Indiana for Braun.
8:51 PM: Spanberger now has a minuscule lead in VA-7. Other movement for Dems in Virginia too.
9:03 PM: Spanberger holding on to tiny lead.
A ton of results coming in. A bunch of calls Senate Dems. But all ones that were expected.
8:08 PM: We’re started to see GOP holds in key House races. Not big surprises. But they’re notching them up. Rep. Brian Mast (R) in Florida. GOP is ahead in VA-5 and they’re ahead in VA-7.
8:17 PM: This is pretty nailbitey.
Still early, still uncertain, a lot of key races which are basically tied and bouncing between the Republican and Democrats with small leads. But we’re starting to see a key thing, maybe three of four House races that were not really on people’s radars where Republicans are now in tough races against Democrats. None of these races are necessarily Democratic wins. But in wave elections you get surprised on election night that races that weren’t competitive, didn’t seem competitive, actually are. That’s what a wave looks like, national trends are showing up in districts people weren’t watching.
7:50 PM: We’ve got an early confirmed pick-up, Jennifer Wexton in VA-10. This isn’t a surprise. This was seen as a very likely Dem pick up. But it’s a pick up. Meanwhile, the guy who I follow on everything Florida seems to be seeing good things.
7:53 PM: Remember 8 PM eastern is the flood. We who are about to be overwhelmed, salute you!
7:55 PM: Republicans seem to have won FL-25, Diaz-Balart. That was a real reach for Dems. But it was one to watch.
7:59 PM: Another Dem pick up: FL-27. But again, this was one of the low hanging fruits.
7 PM is when this really starts. Polls close in all or most of Florida, Virginia and Georgia. We’ll get a bunch of results pretty quickly. Here’s my results watching guide. Of course, you can find all results in our map right you can see to the right. In these states we also have big governors races.
7:07 PM: We’re seeing a lot of bouncy numbers out of Florida. These results can only be be interpreted by seeing what counties and regions they’re from. I’ll try to give indications of what those are telling us.
7:16 PM: Results out of Florida shows some positive signs in the details. Still way to early to say anything with confidence – that’s for Senate and Gov. Also decent signs on the House side in Florida. Check the map for all the results or you can go directly to my races to watch in my guide.
7:21 PM: Meanwhile, these very lopsided numbers for Donnelly in Indiana are not going to stay that lopsided. But that race is looking considerably more promising for Republicans than Florida.
This is key re early leads for Dems in FLA House races …
— Taniel (@Taniel) November 7, 2018
7:27 PM: I’d heard some words of caution about McGrath’s numbers in KY-6. But she’s got a decent lead with 40+% of the vote. Results here.
7:32 PM: VA-7, Brat v Spanberger is now coming into view. Basically tied with a few votes. Here’s the results.
7:37 PM: I’d say we’re seeing the outlines on the east coast of the range of wins Democrats need to win the House majority. Again, predicting nothing. But they’re running well or ahead in the key seats. But still early.
Here’s my guide to watching tonight’s results and my list of the early races to watch to get a sense of what to expect over the course of the evening. Here’s some exit polls – which will be updated over the course of the evening. You can look at exits for different states, nationwide, etc.
Here’s the race I’m watching right now: Kentucky 6. (This race will be an important tell. But so far we only have a thousand votes – 6:22 pm.)
Also. This guy (Steve Schale) knows Florida. Watch his updates.
6:34 PM: Basically we have some results from Indiana and Kentucky. But tiny amounts. Really nothing that tells us anything. At 7 PM we get Florida and Virginia and some of Georgia. We’ll know a lot pretty quickly then.
6:46 PM: Okay, we’re starting to get some actual numbers from KY-6. Basically tied, with minuscule lead for McGrath. But again, sub-1% reporting. Counting real slow.
6:59 PM: About 6% in and KY-6 is really straight up tie, keeps going back and forth.
So here we are, not much left but the counting. We’ll be hosting election results on the front page of the site. But you can bookmark this page too, where you can find all the results for Congress, governors and major state propositions and referenda. If you want a list of people who are highly knowledgeable and try to make sense of the numbers in real time, here’s my Twitter list of smart election data people.
Below is a list of races to watch in the early evening to get a sense of where things are going.