How Election Day unfolded: Democrats take control of U.S. House; Kim Schrier holds wide lead

Seattle Times journalists provided live coverage of the midterm elections and up-to-the-minute results for races in Seattle, King County, Washington state and across the nation.

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Editor’s note: This is the breaking account of Tuesday’s midterm election. You can also see our full coverage of how the night unfolded in Washington state and across the nation here.

Key takeaways:

10:40 p.m. — A night of firsts

Tuesday was a night of firsts in American politics, with a number of candidates blazing trails to Washington, D.C.

  • Twenty-nine-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, is projected to be the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. The progressive candidate shocked the political world by defeating 10-term New York Rep. Joe Crowley in a Democratic primary this summer.
  • Sharice Davids, D-Kansas, and Debra Haaland, D-New Mexico, will likely share the distinction of being the first Native American women to serve in Congress. Davids is a member of Wisconsin’s Ho-Chunk Nation and Haaland belongs to the Pueblo of Laguna.
  • The first two Muslim women to earn seats in Congress were also elected. Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib, a Democratic-Socialist, is a well-known Palestinian-American activist; Ilhan Omar, a former Somali refugee, will represent Minnesota’s 5th District.
  • Alongside these pioneers, a record number of women appear to be headed for Congress. Currently, women hold about 20 percent of the 535 seats in Congress, but Tuesday results put them on pace to beat that number. Many of the newcomers are first-time candidates. Several women in Washington state’s Congressional delegation were re-elected Tuesday, including Sen. Maria Cantwell, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Rep. Suzan DelBene and Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

10:35 p.m. —Adam Smith leads in race against Sarah Smith

Washington’s Rep. Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, appears headed for a big win, gaining more than 70 percent of votes counted compared to less than 30 percent for his challenger Sarah Smith.

In a House under the control of Democrats, Smith is expected to become chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

His agenda includes  aggressive oversight of the Pentagon’s budget and weapons programs,  ensuring that the Defense Department acknowledges climate change as a national security threat and stepped up oversight of President Trump, including his policies in Russia, according to a statement released by Smith.

10:20 p.m. —Despite allegations, Manweller on track to win

Washington state Rep. Matt Manweller, a Republican from Ellensburg who has battled allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct, is on track to win re-election even though he has vowed not to take the seat next year.

Manweller was winning 64 percent of the vote in returns Tuesday, well ahead of Democratic opponent Sylvia Hammond.

In September, facing presure from GOP leaders, Manweller announced his intention to leave the Legislature. His name could not be removed from the ballot, so he urged voters to re-elect him so that he could be replaced by another Republican.

A Seattle Times story last year examined allegations that Manweller had sexually harassed students at Central Washington University, where he taught political science. In the wake of the story, the university launched a new investigation that led to his termination, and more allegations about his conduct surfaced. A story by NW News Network later detailed the account of a woman from Idaho who said Manweller, who had been her teacher in high school, had sex with her when she was 17.

10:10 p.m. — Shea takes lead in state race

State Rep. Matt Shea, who distributed a four-page manifesto titled “Biblical Basis for War,” that describes the U.S. as a “Christian nation” and condemns abortion and same-sex marriage, is leading in the race for Spokane Valley’s 4th Legislative District.

Shea, a Republican, had 58 percent of the vote in early returns in the race against Ted Cummings, a Democrat.

9:50 p.m. — Initiative 940 passes with strong support

Initiative 940, the measure that would remove a 32-year-old barrier in state law that has made it virtually impossible to bring criminal charges against police officers believed to have wrongfully used deadly force, has passed with strong support.

The measure passed with 60 percent of the vote statewide. In King County, support exceeded 70 percent.

9:30 p.m. — Democrats take the U.S. House

With sweeping wins from coast to coast, multiple media outlets projected that Democrats have won enough seats to take control of the U.S. House. The party is now looking to extend that majority with a group of other seats that remain up for grabs, including Washington’s 8th District, where Democrat Kim Schrier holds a strong lead with 53 percent of the vote.

Republicans have retained control of the U.S. Senate.

9:18 p.m. — Voters reject carbon-fee initiative

Washington state voters on Tuesday appear to have rejected Initiative 1631, a proposed carbon fee on fossil-fuel emissions that spurred the biggest ballot-measure spending spree in state history.

As of Tuesday evening, with more than 1.9 million votes tallied from all 39 counties, 56.3 percent of the voters opposed the initiative, while 43.7 percent supported the measure. There are many more votes to be counted but the lead is unlikely to be overtaken.

9:13 p.m. — Cantwell defeats Hutchison in U.S. Senate rate

Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell has defeated challenger Susan Hutchison, according to a Seattle Times analysis. Cantwell holds a double-digit lead after initial ballot counts.

9:10 p.m. — Voters pass Initiative 1639

The Seattle Times projects that Initiative 1639, a ballot measure seeking to make Washington’s firearms law among the strictest in the country, will pass. The measure has 60 percent of the vote in election-night returns.

“My generation has been defined by our elected officials’ continued and repeated inaction,” Stephen Paolini, I-1639’s 22-year-old campaign manager, said at a gathering at Seattle’s Edgewater Hotel where Tuesday’s results drew cheers. “I hope this victory is a message to our elected officials: Enough is enough.”

9:08 p.m. — Democrats on the verge of taking House

Democrats are on the verge of winning enough seats to take control of the U.S. House, and Washington state Democrat Kim Schrier is close to pushing them over the line.

Media outlets have called races that would net Democrats a gain of 21 seats, just shy of the 23 needed to reach a majority in the House.

There are about 10 other races where Democrats hold leads. That includes Washington’s 8th Congressional District, where Democrat Kim Schrier holds 55 percent of the vote, leading Republican candidate Dino Rossi.

9:05 p.m. — Satterberg poised to win in King County while Pierce County’s Lindquist trails opponent 

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg appears headed for easy re-election with about 72 percent of the vote in the first release of ballot returns. Meanwhile, in Pierce County, embattled incumbent Mark Lindquist trails his challenger with 37 percent of the vote.

9 p.m. — In wake of rape allegations, Fain holds narrow lead

Republican state Sen. Joe Fain, whose re-election campaign was thrown into uncertainty following a rape allegation, held a slight lead in election returns Tuesday night.

Fain, a two-term lawmaker in King County’s 47th legislative District, held 50.3 percent of the vote against Democrat Mona Das.

In September, a woman reported publicly that Fain had raped her in a Washington, D.C., hotel room in 2007. Candace Faber has said she would welcome an investigation, while Fain has denied the allegation and also said he would welcome an inquiry.

8:55 p.m. — Brown wins reelection for Oregon governor

Gov. Kate Brown has won reelection for governor of Oregon, beating Republican Rep. Knute Buehler, the Oregonian reported.

8:50 p.m. — Justice Gonzalez set to retain seat

Justice Steve Gonzalez, the only one of three state Supreme Court justices who drew a challenger during this election, is set to retain his seat.

Gonzalez held 68 percent of the vote Tuesday night, well ahead of challenger Nathan Choi, who had drawn scrutiny for espousing theories about “the Deep State” and the sinking of the Titanic.

8:40 p.m. — McMorris Rodgers, Herrera Beutler lead early 

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler are holding leads over their Democratic challengers as Republicans work to maintain control of Washington’s congressional districts outside the Puget Sound region. Election night told a different story for Washington’s Democratic members of the House of Representatives, all six of whom appear to be cruising toward re-election on Tuesday night.

McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, the fourth-ranking Republican in the House, leads Democrat Lisa Brown 55 percent to 45 percent with most precincts reporting, in a race that brought unprecedented amounts of political money to Eastern Washington.

Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, leads Democratic political newcomer Carolyn Long 52 percent to 48 percent.

8:32 p.m. — Effort to block soda taxes holds early lead

The soda industry’s $20 million campaign to block Washington cities from enacting new food and beverage taxes is carrying an early lead, with 54 percent of the vote among ballots counted early Tuesday night.

Backed by the soda-pop industry, Initiative 1634 would ban local taxes on any food or beverage or ingredient intended for human consumption. It would not repeal Seattle’s sweetened-beverage tax that took effect in January.

8:15 p.m. — Carbon-fee plan failing in early returns

Washington voters, in initial election results, are rejecting Initiative 1631, proposed carbon fee on fossil fuel emissions that spurred the biggest ballot measure spending spree in state history.

In early results, I-1631 was being opposed by 55 percent of the voters, while 45 percent had voted against the measure.

I-1631 would create a first-in-the nation carbon fee. It would take effect in 2020, rising year after year to finance a multibillion dollar spending surge intended to cut Washington greenhouse-gas emissions. The initiative reflects the proponents’ faith that an activist government can play a key role in speeding up a transition to cleaner fuels and helping the state adjust to a century of climate change.

8:15 p.m. — Initiative 940 holds strong

Initiative 940 appeared to hold a strong lead following the release of statewide returns Tuesday night, with 62 percent of voters approving the measure that would remove a 32-year-old barrier in state law that has made it virtually impossible to bring criminal charges against police officers believed to have wrongfully used deadly force.

Much of the support for the measure appeared centered in western Washington.

If the measure passes, prosecutors would no longer have to prove law-enforcement officers acted with “evil intent” — or so-called “malice” — when considering whether to file criminal charges such as manslaughter. Washington is the only state with such restrictive language.

8:15 p.m. — Schrier takes early lead over Rossi

Democrat Kim Schrier has taken an early lead in her party’s effort to take control of Washington state’s 8th Congressional District.

A first wave of results showed Schrier with 55 percent of the vote, ahead of Dino Rossi’s 44 percent. The 8th District has been the most expensive House race in the country following the announcement that U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, a Republican, would not run for reelection.

In the long-shot Democratic effort to win the state’s 3rd District, Democratic candidate Carolyn Long also held an early lead, with 50.4 percent of the vote. In the state’s 5th District, Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers held a lead with 54.1 percent of the vote.

8:15 p.m. —Gun-regulations Initiative 1639 takes lead 

A state gun-regulations ballot measure seeking to make Washington’s firearms laws among the strictest in the country led Tuesday with 63 percent of the vote in election-night returns.

That was with more than dozen counties reporting results, including King, Snohomish, Clark and Spokane counties. Votes will continue be counted in the coming days.

The sweeping 30-page measure known as Initiative 1639 would raise the legal age to buy semi-automatic rifles to 21. To obtain such weapons, people would need to pass an enhanced background check, take a training course and wait 10 business days after a purchase.

8:10 p.m. —First results are in

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell is on track to win a fourth term, as early returns showed her holding 63 percent of the vote over Republican challenger Susan Hutchison.

Seattle’s $600 million-plus education levy, Proposition No. 1, shows signs of success in early election returns. 

The seven-year Families, Education, Preschool and Promise Program levy (FEPP) would cost homeowners of a median assessed property of $655,000 an average of $248 a year, and requires a majority of voter approval in order to pass.

U.S. Rep Pramila Jayapal has 83 percent of the vote in early returns in the 7th Congressional District race against Craig Keller, a Republican.

7:45 p.m. —The final countdown

With about twenty minutes remaining before Washington state ballots were due at 8 p.m., Seattle Times reporter Agueda Pacheco-Flores observed a rush of voters around a ballot dropbox next to the Burien library.

7:42 p.m. — Two reactions to Ted Cruz

7:40 p.m. — From “Yes on Initiative 1631” watch party

7:35 p.m. — Democrats gain 12 seats in House

Democrats have now gained 12 of the 23 seats they need to control the U.S. House and are leading in early results from more than 20 other races.

Eyes are now turning to the West Coast, where Democrats have a series of other pick-up opportunities. Results in Washington state are expected shortly after 8 p.m., and Democrats are hopeful to flip the state’s 8th District and potentially the 3rd District and 5th District.

7:25 p.m. — Cruz holds off O’Rourke

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has held off a challenge from Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke.
NBC News projected Cruz as the winner as he held 51 percent of the vote with about 80 percent of the votes in.

Republicans have also won the Senate seat in Indiana, and they hold leads in Florida and Missouri, likely ensuring that the chamber remains in GOP control.

7:20 p.m. — Initiative 1639’s watch party

At the “Yes on Initiative 1639” watch party in Seattle, campaign manager Stephen Paolini, 22, said he felt the measure isn’t an issue for “responsible and law-abiding gun owners,” but about raising the standard and making sure people do “what every single responsible gun owner already does.”

Niko Battle, a senior at Mukilteo High School, says high school students are “forced to think about what our escape routes will be” at school.

In 2016, a teenager armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle killed three people and wounded another in an attack at a house party in Mukilteo. Paul Kramer, the father of the teenager who was injured, has become the public face for I-1639.

7:10 p.m. — Democrats flip more House seats

Democrats have now flipped five of the 23 House seats they need to win control the chamber, and they are performing well in many other critical House races.

Multiple media outlets have now declared Democratic candidates the victors in Florida’s 26th District, Florida’s 27th District, Minnesota’s 3rd District, Pennsylvania’s 17th District and Virginia’s 10th District.

Results in Washington state are expected shortly after 8 p.m., and Democrats are hopeful to flip the state’s 8th District and potentially the 3rd District and 5th District.

6:55 p.m. — GOP wins Senate seat in Indiana 

Multiple media outlets have declared Republican candidate Mike Braun the winner in Indiana’s race for U.S. Senate, likely ensuring that Republicans continue to control the chamber. While Democrats need gain two Senate seats to win a majority, Braun’s win ousts Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly.

Vote tallies also show Republicans with edges in the Senate races in Florida and Missouri, also seats currently held by Democrats.

Democrats do have a bright spot in Texas, where Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz are running close. With 75 percent of votes in, Cruz holds 50.1 percent of the vote to O’Rourke’s 49.2 percent.

6:40 p.m. — A series of firsts

In New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who shocked the political world by defeating New York Rep. Joe Crowley in a Democratic primary this summer, has become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress at age 29. Multiple media outlets are projecting that Ocasio-Cortez defeated Anthony Pappas in the race.

New York Democratic Congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez embraces a supporter at a polling site after voting, Tuesday Nov. 6, 2018, in the Parkchester community in the Bronx, N.Y. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
New York Democratic Congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez embraces a supporter at a polling site after voting, Tuesday Nov. 6, 2018, in the Parkchester community in the Bronx, N.Y. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Rashida Tlaib, who was the sole major party candidate for Michigan’s 13th Congressional District, is the first Muslim woman elected to Congress.

Kansas has elected Sharice Davids, who will be the first Native woman in Congress. Deb Haaland has the lead in early returns for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District. If elected, Haaland, an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna, would also be the first Native woman in Congress, along with Davids.

Jared Polis is leading in early returns for Colorado’s gubernatorial race. If elected, he would be the first gay man to be elected governor in the U.S.

6:20 p.m. — Republicans grab leads in key Senate races

While Democrats need to win over two seats to claim control of the Senate, Republicans have taken leads in a series of key Senate races, including three seats currently held by Democrats.

  • In Texas, GOP Sen. Ted Cruz has edged ahead of Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke. Cruz holds 50.1 percent of the vote, according to a CNN tally.
  • In Florida, Republican Rick Scott has held a slight lead in his bid against Sen. Bill Nelson, carrying 50.3 percent of the vote, with an estimated 98 percent of votes in.
  • In Indiana, Republican candidate Mike Braun is in position to oust Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly. Braun holds 54.5 percent of the vote, with an estimated 66 percent of the votes in.
  • And in Missouri, with about 11 percent of votes in, Republican Josh Hawley holds 58.2 percent of the vote in his bid to oust Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

6:15 p.m. — Felon voting

An amendment in Florida that would restore the right to vote for people with prior felony convictions is passing with 64 percent of the vote, according to the state’s Division of Elections.

The amendment wouldn’t apply to those convicted or murder or sexual offenses and only applies to those who have completed their sentences, including parole or probation.

Florida, along with Iowa, Virginia and North Carolina, currently bans people with prior felony convictions from voting, according to the ACLU. In Washington, people with felony convictions can vote once they have completed their sentences.

5:45 p.m. — An update on key Senate races

  • In Texas, with close to 4 million votes counted, Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke holds 50.8 percent of the vote in his bid to oust Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, according to a CNN tally.
  • In Florida, Republican Rick Scott has taken a slight lead in the race for U.S. Senate, carrying 50.5 percent of the vote, with an estimate 95 percent of votes in.
  • In Indiana, Republican Mike Braun holds 55 percent of the vote in his bid to oust Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly, with an estimated 56 percent of the votes in.

5:25 p.m. — Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis loses bid for reelection

In Kentucky, Kim Davis, the county clerk who became famous when she refused to sign marriage licenses for gay couples, lost to a Democrat.

Davis lost reelection for Rowan County clerkship to Elwood Caudill Jr. by about 700 votes, the Herald Leader in Lexington reported.

5:25 p.m. — Florida’s top races remain close

Florida, once again, is too close to call.

With an estimated 90 percent of votes in, according to CNN, Republican Rick Scott holds a narrow edge with 50.1 percent of the vote in the state’s race for U.S. Senate.

Meanwhile, in the state’s race for governor, Republican Ron Desantis held 49.6 percent of the vote, slightly above Andrew Gillum’s 49.2 percent.

In Florida’s 27th Congressional District, media outlets projected Democratic candidate Donna Shalala as the winner, giving Democrats their second House seat pickup of the night. They need to gain 23 seats to control the chamber.

5:15 p.m. — Beto O’Rourke takes early lead

In one of the most-watched contests in the nation, Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke has taken an early lead in election returns.

With more than 1.5 million votes counted in the state, according to a CNN tally, O’Rourke leads Republican Sen. Ted Cruz with 53.5 percent of the vote. Democrats are not expected to reclaim control of the U.S. Senate, but an upset victory in Texas would upend those odds.

4:55 p.m. — Democrats pick up first seat

In their quest to retake control of the U.S. House, Democrats have claimed their first victory.

Multiple media outlets projected that Democratic challenger Jennifer Wexton has ousted Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District.

Democrats need to gain 23 seats to take control of the House. Election forecasters believe that is likely.

4:45 p.m. — Early results are mixed

Here’s an early look at some of the competitive races we’re watching, with early results tallied by CNN:

  • U.S. Senate, Florida: With an estimated half of the vote in, Democrat Bill Nelson leads with 51.6 percent of the vote.
  • Florida governor: With an estimated half of the vote in, Democrat Andrew Gillum leads with 50.9 percent of the vote.
  • U.S. Senate, Indiana: With an estimated 29 percent of votes in, Republican Mike Braun leads with 55.2 percent of the vote.
  • Kentucky 6th District: With an estimated 33 percent of votes in, Democrat Amy McGrath leads with 54.2 percent of the vote.
  • Indiana 9th District: With an estimated 4 percent of votes in, Republican Trey Hollingsworth leads with 62.1 percent of the vote.

4:30 p.m. — Voter turnout

About 53 percent of Washington voters have returned their ballots as of 4 p.m., according to the Secretary of State’s office.

King County’s turnout is at 56 percent, Pierce County’s is 44 percent and Snohomish County’s is 45 percent.

Turnout has been high both here and nationally.

4 p.m. — What’s on your mind?

What’s high on voters’ minds this year? Healthcare and immigration, according to a national survey conducted by The Associated Press.

And two-thirds voters consider President Donald Trump a factor in how they cast their votes, the survey found.

Among those surveyed, 26 percent named health care the most important issue facing the country in this year’s elections. Immigration was the second, followed by the economy, gun policy and the environment.

3:50 p.m. — The first results

Parts of Indiana and Kentucky are starting to release the first results of the election. Both states have some polling places that closed at 6 p.m. Eastern.

Kentucky has a competitive race in the 6th District in which Democrats are hoping to pick up a seat over Republican Andy Barr. Republicans are favored to retain Indiana’s 9th District seat, but Democrats see it as another pick-up opportunity.

Meanwhile, the biggest race in the two states is the U.S. Senate contest in Indiana, where Democrat Joe Donnelly is clinging to his seat. A win by Republican Mike Braun would likely ensure the GOP controls the chamber next year.

So far, both states have only reported results from a fraction of precincts. You can follow the Kentucky races on the state’s website here. Or the Indiana results here.

In one Indiana county, polling sites are staying open an extra hour because of long lines, the Herald-Times of Bloomington, Indiana reported.

More states are set to close polls at 7 p.m. Eastern (4 p.m. Pacific), including Georgia and parts of Florida.

3:20 p.m. — Replacement ballots for students

At the University of Washington, supporters of the state initiative to set a fee on carbon emissions have been operating a super-charged, get-out-the-vote effort. On Tuesday, it included not only a polar bear mascot urging students to cast their ballot but computers to print them, tables to fill them out and a drop box.

Nearby, a sign urged a “yes” vote on the I-1631 carbon fee on fossil fuels and to “don’t believe big oil lies.”

The effort drew students who were already registered but whose ballots were elsewhere. They waited in line for their turn to log into the Washington Secretary of State’s MyVote site, where they could then get a replacement ballot.

“This is a lot more convenient,” said Sade Suleiman, a pre-med student who said her ballot was at her parent’s house in Bothell and she did not intend to go there until the weekend.

Organizers estimated that about a hundred students dropped in ballots Monday and another 250 by the Tuesday lunch hour.

— from Seattle Times reporter Hal Bernton

2:45 p.m. — Hours-long lines at the polls

We haven’t seen any major troubles with voting in Washington’s all-mail election. But the surge of voters, along with some glitches, is causing delays in states with poll booths.

In Georgia, which has a tight governor’s race that has drawn the attention of Oprah Winfrey and others, one voter reported waiting more than three hours at a polling site, according to The Associated Press. The voter, Ontaria Woods, said she saw about two dozen people leave the site because of the lines.

“We’ve been trying to tell them to wait, but people have children. People are getting hungry. People are tired,” Woods told The AP.

In Texas, which features a costly Senate race between Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Beto O’Rourke, some voters reported waiting in lines as long as an hour.

In Los Angeles, some voters have been waiting up to two hours at polling sites. New York City was dealing with a series of problems caused by a two-page ballot and broken scanners, while voters in the city also reported long lines that caused some to wait hours before casting a ballot.

2 p.m. — Gratitude and freedom

Seattle Times reader “justgym” shared this Election Day story in the comments below:

I was walking by the ballot box in Burien and there were mass people coming in all directions to cast their vote. I could feel the festivity in the air. As I walked a little further I saw two bearded gentleman wearing turbans sitting on the bench. I extended a greeting to them and one responded in kind, then both of them placed their hands together in a prayer like fashion and bowed in my direction, which I returned. I was then blessed with a feeling of gratitude and freedom. This is why I love America, this is why I fought for my country, this is why I vote.

1:15 p.m. — A last look at election forecasts

We’re just a couple hours away from the first polls closing in Kentucky and Indiana.

FiveThirtyEight, which analyzes political-opinion surveys around the country, has published its final forecast of what to expect for tonight. They project that Republicans have an 82 percent chance of keeping control of the U.S. Senate, while Democrats have an 86 percent chance of taking control of the U.S. House. Remember, while those odds are strong, they are far from certain.

The numbers are similar to the analysis of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, which believes Democrats have the potential to pick up between 20 to 40 seats in the House but, depending how the night goes, might actually lose ground in the Senate.

In Washington state’s close 8th District race – the most expensive House contest in the country – a New York Times poll that concluded on Sunday saw Democrat Kim Schrier with a slight edge over Republican Dino Rossi, but the results were within the margin of error and some voters remained undecided.

And, of course, there’s always a chance for the polling to be off. Another poll in the 8th District race earlier in October showed a dramatically different picture, with Rossi having a large lead.

12:25 p.m. — Scenes from an all-mail state

Washington state’s all-mail voting system means voters don’t have to navigate the long lines seen at polling places in many other states. But there are still plenty of people out on Election Day.

One of our reporters, Evan Bush, spent the morning talking with voters at Seattle Pacific University:

Meanwhile, in Burien:


11:15 a.m. — President Trump

After an aggressive series of rallies in the final days of the election campaign, President Trump’s feed on Twitter went relatively quiet this morning, with just a couple new posts about candidates he’s supporting in New Jersey and Michigan.

The AP reported that Trump returned to the White House in the early hours of the morning after his final campaign rallies. He planned to spend the day at the White House out of public view, having voted in New York via absentee ballot several weeks ago.

9:45 a.m. — 39 million early votes

Almost 39 million people (38,844,688 to be exact, as of the latest counts) cast their ballots ahead of Election Day this year, according to a tally today by a University of Florida professor who monitors U.S. elections and turnout. Those numbers are expected to increase as states update their early-vote tallies, but the totals are already well above the 27 million who voted early in the midterms in 2014.

Twelve states doubled their early-vote numbers compared to 2014, including Georgia, Minnesota, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

8:50 a.m. — Polling site foreclosed

There are some isolated reports of election glitches and issues around the country.

Some polling sites in Maricopa County, Arizona, weren’t ready to go when polls opened, according to local reports. One polling site was in a building that had been foreclosed overnight. Some voters reported other glitches, including precincts that ran out of ballots.

Due to overnight storms, some polling places in Tennessee lacked electricity, so voters were using paper ballots. Nobody was being turned away.

In North Carolina, high humidity was causing problems with ballot-tabulation machines, according to officials. Ballots were being stored in bins to be counted later.

A notice is seen at a polling station, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 in Chandler, Ariz. A new polling station opened four hours late after the original location did not open due to the buildings’ foreclosure overnight. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) AZRS108 AZRS108 (Rick Scuteri / The Associated Press)
A notice is seen at a polling station, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 in Chandler, Ariz. A new polling station opened four hours late after the original location did not open due to the buildings’ foreclosure overnight. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) AZRS108 AZRS108 (Rick Scuteri / The Associated Press)

8:20 a.m. — Storms are brewing

A line of storms is moving across the East Coast, raining on voters from New York to Florida.

There’s the prospect of severe thunderstorms in parts of that system. In the Northeast, winds could reach 50 mph. Parts of the Midwest could see snow.

What’s the impact of all that? Not surprisingly, research suggests that bad weather could decrease voter turnout. But, according to the New York Times, the research has also found some political impacts:

Multiple studies have shown that bad weather on Election Day can decrease turnout, which in turn tends to help Republicans, because the groups most likely to be deterred from voting are those that tend to vote Democratic. But a more recent study, published in November 2017 in the journal American Politics Research, found that the political effects of Election Day storms may go beyond turnout. Among voters who do turn out, one of the study’s co-authors said, slightly more tend to vote Republican when the weather is bad.

Voters line up in the rain outside Bright Family and Youth Center in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.  (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Voters line up in the rain outside Bright Family and Youth Center in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

7:45 a.m. — Record spending

Last-minute fundraising numbers are still coming in, but some of this year’s races have reached unprecedented levels of spending in Washington state.

Initiative 1631, the contentious plan to add fees to greenhouse-gas polluters, has drawn donations exceeding $47 million, making it the most expensive initiative campaign in the state’s history, according to state data Tuesday morning. Opponents led by BP America have given more than $31 million to defeat the measure.

Meanwhile, an industry effort to ban local soda taxes has surpassed $20 million in support, while an initiative to add strict new regulations on guns has raised more than $5 million.

And if you’ve encountered the onslaught of ads in recent weeks, it may not surprise you to learn that the Washington congressional race between Dino Rossi and Kim Schrier is wrapping up the election season ranked as the most expensive House race in the country. More than $28 million has been spent on that race.

7:25 a.m. — Massive turnout

Long lines this morning are the latest sign of a massive voter turnout for this year’s election.

In Kansas City, a voter who got to the polls at 6 a.m. likened the crowds to Disneyland. In the Atlanta area, lines were already forming even before the 7 a.m. opening of the polls. In South Carolina, some voters reported waiting 45 minutes or more to vote.

That follows huge turnout numbers in early voting. More than 2 million people voted early in Georgia, approaching the 2.6 million who voted in the entire 2014 midterms. In Texas, nearly nearly 5 million voted early, and the final tally there could potentially approach the 9 million Texans who voted in the presidential election two years ago.

In Washington state, where voters cast ballots by mail, voter-participation numbers are on track to surpass the previous midterm record, which was set amid turmoil in Vietnam in 1970. Here’s a story by political reporter Jim Brunner that takes a deeper look at the state’s numbers.

7 a.m. — Welcome to the midterms!

Today’s election, already the most expensive midterm campaign in history, will determine the balance of power in Congress. And the results here in Washington state could have ripple effects around the country.

We’ve got a congressional race that has been one of the most expensive in the country. We’ve got a couple of other congressional seats that Democrats are hoping to grab in the event of a major wave. We’ve had millions of dollars pour into statewide initiative campaigns on gun control, soda taxes, carbon fees and the police use of deadly force.

And, of course, it’s all taking place at the halfway point of the presidency of Donald Trump, who has particularly low support in Washington state.

If you’re doing some last-minute voting, here’s our election guide (ballots need to be postmarked today or at a drop-box by 8 p.m.).

Keep checking back here as the day progresses. We will be posting regular updates on turnout, developments, results and reaction across the country and our state. The first polls in Indiana and Kentucky close at 3 p.m. Pacific time. Washington state results will start arriving after 8 p.m.

Sarah Salem, 34, foreground, swims as voters cast their ballots at Echo Deep Pool on Tuesday in Los Angeles. (Jae C. Hong / The Associated Press)
Sarah Salem, 34, foreground, swims as voters cast their ballots at Echo Deep Pool on Tuesday in Los Angeles. (Jae C. Hong / The Associated Press)