Counting votes will take time, but watch these races for trends – JP
And calling which party wins the majority in the Senate could take days — or even weeks. Close races in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Arizona will certainly stretch beyond Tuesday, because those states won’t start counting mail-in ballots until Election Day. The hard-fought battle in Georgia between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker likely will not be decided until a Dec. 6 runoff in part because the Libertarian Party candidate has been consistently polling at 2 percent to 3 percent, enough to deny either major-party candidate 50 percent.
Despite those caveats, some early results from the East Coast will offer important clues about which party is in line to control the House and the Senate for the next two years. Here are some bellwether races and when all polls will be closed — in Eastern Standard Time — in those states.
7 p.m.: Virginia and Indiana
Virginia has several races that could signal fairly early whether Republicans are having a good night, or if Democrats might buck predictions and hold on to House control. Three members of the blue wave class of 2018 — Elaine Luria, Abigail Spanberger and Jennifer Wexton — all are facing strong GOP challenges. Luria, who is running against Republican state Sen. Jen Kiggans in the 2nd District, is one of the party’s most vulnerable incumbents. If Luria were to win, it would be a sign of Democrats overperforming expectations. Losses by Spanberger and especially Wexton — whose Northern Virginia seat is considered safer for Democrats — would suggest “a huge night” for Republicans, said CQ JP elections analyst Nathan L. Gonzales.
In Indiana, Democrats have held the 1st District for more than 90 years, but Republican Jennifer-Ruth Green is hoping to change that. Green, an Air Force veteran, is seeking to unseat Democratic Rep. Frank J. Mrvan. A win by the GOP in this northwestern Indiana district could be a harbinger of Republican dominance.
7:30 p.m.: North Carolina
A strong showing by Democratic candidate Cheri Beasley in the race for an open Senate seat against Republican Rep. Ted Budd could signal a good night for Democrats. “If Beasley wins or even if it’s extremely close, it could be a sign that Democrats are holding their own,” Gonzales said. The outcome of a competitive race in the open 13th District, a newly redrawn swing seat that encompasses the Raleigh suburbs and several rural counties, could provide a hint about the strength of the Trump wing of the party. Republican Bo Hines, an ex-college football player who has embraced the MAGA label, is facing Democratic state Sen. Wiley Nickel.