US midterms: Rolling coverage, part one

By Emiliya Mychasuk, FT.com’s US news editor, and Alan Rappeport, FT reporter, in New York. All times are eastern standard.

8:56pm - Losing West Virginia makes it virtually impossible for Republicans to win the Senate, notes Ms Fifield. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chairman Robert Menendez offered this congratulations for Mr Manchin:

“Congratulations to Senator-elect Joe Manchin for his victory tonight in West Virginia.  Although nobody can ever take the place of former Senator Robert Byrd, Joe has been a tireless fighter for the people of his state for close to three decades.  Despite the best efforts of National Republicans, who poured millions of dollars into the Mountain State, West Virginians cast aside the misleading attacks ads because they know Joe has always been there for them.  I look forward to serving with Senator-elect Manchin, as he continues to put the people of West Virginia above all else.”

8:47pm – Mr Beattie, our International Economy Editor, looks for a silver lining for Mr Obama, and notes that signs of a Republican takeover of the House will make it easier for the president to push his free trade agreement as he heads to South Korea next week for the G20 meeting.

8:38pm – Observers are focusing on West Virginia’s senate race to see if Mr Manchin, a Democrat, will take the senate seat. CNN projects that he will win, filling Mr Byrd’s seat. TPM says that this is crucial for Democrats because if they underperformed polls in that state the senate would be more solidly in play for Republicans.

8:29pm – Republican John Boozman has unseated Sen. Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas, according to CNN. Its tally says that Republicans need 9 more wins to take control of the Senate. The network also reports that Richard Blumenthal has defeated Linda McMahon, a Republican and former wrestling executive, for the senate seat in Connecticut. CNN reports that the gender gap greatly harmed Linda McMahon because early exit polls report the contender trailing 60 to 39 per cent among women, notes Lauren Schmidt, our correspondent in Washington.

8:20pm – Stephanie Kirchgaessner reports that in a brief appearance, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged voters on the West Coast to cast their ballots and said Americans were choosing whether to support a party that wanted to protect Medicare and Social Security, or privitise the government sponsored programmes.

“Many of us have to get back on the phones to try to get people out to vote,” she said. Democratic campaogn officials then shuttled reporters out of the room and said Ms Pelosi would not make another appearance. It was potentially the last one by the first female speaker of the house.

8:10pm – AP reports that Rep. John Yarmuth, a Democrat, will hold on to his hotly contested seat in Kentucky. As we noted earlier, this was a key seat for Democrats to hold.

7:58pm – Christine O’Donnell, a Republican Tea Party candidate running for a Delaware senate seat, lost to Democrat Chris Coons, CNN projects. Ms O’Donnell was plagued by remarks she made in the 1990s that she dabbled in witchcraft and by controversy surrounding her financial history. Meanwhile, Republican Marco Rubio has defeated Charlie Crist for the senate seat in Florida. CNN says that 62 per cent of Latinos supported Mr Rubio.

7:48pm - Stephanie Kirchgaessner, an FT Washington correspondent, reports a grim mood enveloping Democrats. At a reception for Democratic congressional campaign headquarters in Washington, reporters were forbidden from talking to Democratic officials and party supporters. The mood could not be more different from the electric atmosphere of 2008. Two big television screens were left – not even showing election result – and there was no music.

7:40pm – Bankers and Bush are still the ones to blame for the economy, according to exit polls reported by Marc Ambinder, the Atlantic’s political guru. Bankers take 34 per cent of the blame, followed by George W. Bush with 29 per cent and President Barack Obama with 24 per cent.

7:28pm – West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, a Democrat who is running for Senate to replace the late Robert Byrd, is leading in exit polls, according to CNN. Meanwhile, the AP says that Rob Portman will keep Ohio’s senate seat in the Republican column.

7:14pm – CNN projects that Republicans Rand Paul, a Tea Party favourite, and Don Coats will win their senate races in Kentucky and Indiana. According to Politico, Mr Paul is winning by a margin of 54.8 per cent to 45.2 per cent with 26.9 per cent of precincts reporting.

7:04pm: Huffington Post and Drudge are both leaking some fresh exit polling from several states:

Blumenthal (D-CT) +8

Rubio (R-FL) +21

Blunt (R-MO) +10

Boxer (D-CA) +8

Kirk (R-IL) +6

Paul (R-KY) +11

NV–EVEN

Bennet (D-CO) +2

Toomey (R-PA) +4

Murray (D-WA) +6

Manchin (D-WV) +7

Johnson (R-WI) +5

7:00pm – From Anna: Politico reports that Frank Luntz, an influential Republican  pollster,  is predicting that Harry Reid, the majority leader in the Senate fighting for his political life in Nevada, will win re-election. He has faced a surprisingly strong challenge from Sharron Angle, a Tea Party-backed Republican and one of the more idiosyncratic candidates running this election. If even Mr Luntz gives him a victory, that is a good sign for Democrats. The pollster is suggesting Republicans will win seven Senate seats and 50 House spots, Politico reports.

6:52pm – Anna Fifield, our US political correspondent, notes that Mr Obama is thinking about baseball even as he watches the returns come in. The White House sent out an alert that the president put a call into the San Francisco Giants to congratulate them for winning the World Series on Monday. He said he enjoyed watching the game and wondered if Brian Wilson, the team’s closer, really has magic in his beard that’s dyed black.

6:51pm – Swing State Project has a great chart and map using polling data to estimate which directions congressional races should be “leaning”. Races that go the other way could be could give an early sense on how the night will go. Chandler and Yarmuth both lean toward the Democrats in Kentucky and should be among the earliest results. (H/T Kos)

6:40pm – It’s getting aggressive up and down the ballot in New York. Reid Epstein, of Newsday, says that a volunteer for Brian Foley, a State Senate candidate, was shot by a pellet gun by a man speeding by in a pickup truck. The truck was carrying a sign for Lee Zeldin, Mr Foley’s Republican rival.

6:30pm – Exit polls in Kentucky show Republican Rand Paul leading Jack Conway 55 per cent to 45 per cent in the closely watched Senate race there. Although that’s only with 1 per cent of districts reporting, Daily Kos reminds that more liberal urban areas tend to report first in Kentucky, with rural/conservative districts reporting later. That does not bode well for a late surge for Mr Conway.

6:23pm – Alan Beattie, our International Economy Editor in Washington, just noted that he is betting (in the DC bureau office pool) that the Republicans will take the US Senate. That’s not because he thinks that it will necessarily happen but because the expected return from betting on an outlier is higher than betting on an outcome toward the middle of a cluster. Enjoy the free advice, for what it’s worth.

6:12pm – Turnout in Nevada, home to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, has been lighter than expected so far. The Las Vegas Sun reports that in Clark County, the registrar of voters had initially expected to see 190,000 voters, but was downgrading his forecast. Democrats in Nevada were not holding their own in early voting. Although they held a 9,000 voter edge, the Sun reports, there are more than 60,000 registered Democrats in the state, meaning that Republicans are outperforming at the polls.

6:02pm – The White House has added two last-minute media interviews for President Obama, who is making a final case to voters on behalf of his party. He’ll do the Doug Banks Show and WVON Chicago.  On Wednesday Mr Obama will hold a post-mortem  news conference in the East Room of the White House at 1pm.

5:56pm – CNN is reporting on some preliminary exit polling that shows voters still see the Democratic Party more favourably. While 53 per cent of voters are unhappy with both Republicans and Democrats, 43 per cent have a positive view of Democrats and 41 per cent view Republicans favourably.

5:50pm – It’s election night in America and we’ll be bringing together results and reporting from our network of correspondents as they trickle in. The first polls close in Indiana and Kentucky at 6pm EST.

Visit ft.com’s special page for news and analysis of the US midterms

Clive Crook’s blog

This blog is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

I have been the FT's Washington columnist since April 2007. I moved from Britain to the US in 2005 to write for the Atlantic Monthly and the National Journal after 20 years working at the Economist, most recently as deputy editor. I write mainly about the intersection of politics and economics.

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