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What to Watch for Tonight in the Federal Elections

Nicole Lee, American voter

Watching the returns of the federal election this evening is going to be very simple. There is almost no chance of the Republicans losing the House so the important fights are in the Senate.

Among all the senate races this year, only about eight are reasonably close: Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, New Hampshire and North Carolina.

Three of them we likely won’t know the results by the end of the day. The polling indicates in Louisiana and Georgia no candidate will likely get 50 percent today so both will probably result in a run off. In addition, because of Alaska’s large size, it often takes a few days to get the final results from there.

The first important result will probably come from North Carolina (polls close at 7:30 Eastern) and New Hampshire. In both, polls indicate the Democratic incumbents hold a very narrow lead. If Democrats lose one or both, the Republicans are effectively guaranteed to win the Senate. This will be the sign of an actual GOP wave.

After that the next big set of results will be from Colorado, Kansas and Iowa in that order. In Kansas, Independent Greg Orman holds only a tiny one point lead in the polling. Democrats need him to win and decide to caucus with them. In Colorado and Iowa the Democratic candidates are trailing in the polls. Winning all three would give Democrats 50 seats allowing them to narrowly hold on to the Senate tonight. At minimum, Democrats probably need to win at least two of these race to even have a shot going forward.

Republicans are the clear favorite in Alaska, Georgia and Louisiana. It would be difficult for Democrats to win even one of these seats and very unlikely they would win two.

One positive note for progressives is polling indicates the measures on the ballot this year will probably show this election is a rejection of Democratic leadership (i.e. President Obama) and not a rejection of liberal policies. We will likely see victories for marijuana legalization, sentencing reform, and minimum wage initiatives tonight.

Photo by Nicole Lee under Creative Commons license

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at