Everything you need to know about Tuesday’s midterm election

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When voters head to the polls on Tuesday, there’s a lot at stake both locally and nationally, with a number of hotly-contested races.

In Illinois, Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner spent Monday traveling the state in one final campaign push to try to separate themselves from the other while Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight predicts Quinn will win.

Nationally, the Florida governor’s race between former Republican Charlie Crist and Gov. Rick Scott is as tight as can be. Control of the Senate also is up for grabs.

With all of the various storylines, it’s a lot to take in.

Here’s (mostly) everything you need to know heading into Tuesday’s midterm election:



Even though Vice President Joe Biden is confident Democrats will hold onto control of the Senate, it could be a big night for Republicans. Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight says Republicans have a 76 percent chance of taking over the Senate. And a tea party group has put on the full-court press with robocalls, urging Republicans to get out to vote to make “Barack Obama cry.”

Republicans also have put significant effort into turning this election into a referendum on Obama’s presidency.

“This is really the last chance for America to pass judgment on the Obama administration and on its policies,” Mitt Romney said in a message echoed by Republicans across the country over the weekend.

  • Governors across the nation are struggling to keep their seats, and there are five key things to watch for as the day progresses.
  • Republicans need to gain six net seats to get control of the Senate. Three, in states where Democrats are retiring, seem nearly certain: West Virginia, Montana and South Dakota. Republican are looking to flip seats in Arkansas, North Carolina, Colorado, New Hampshire, Alaska and Louisiana. In all, 36 seats are being contested.
  • Of the hotly-contested Senate races, two of them are in Kentucky and Iowa. Republican Joni Ernst is hoping grease her way to a win over Bruce Bailey thanks to her hog castrating ads. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has a lot riding on Tuesday’s outcome against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes. If it’s a good night, he could become the majority leader — and if it’s a bad night, he could be unemployed. In Colorado, Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and Republican Rep. Cory Gardner are in a fierce race, as are Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and Republican Bob Beauprez.
  • No one doubts the GOP will keep control of House; the question is how many seats they’ll gain.
  • According to the Center for Responsive Politics, an estimated $4 billion will have been spent on this election.
  • There is a Bush on the ballot, but not the one you’re thinking of. George P. Bush, the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, is running for Texas land commissioner.
  • Many of the nation’s incumbent state CEOs are vulnerable, more so than usual. A half-dozen Republican governors who swept into office, some with tea party support, in 2010 are struggling to hang onto office.
  • Once the voting is over, how (and when) are winners declared in races? It’s all about having good data to analyze.
  • Marijuana measures are on the ballot in three places: Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C.
  • Do you need an ID to vote? This interactive chart breaks down voter ID laws by state.


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