By Ryan Teague Beckwith
November 6, 2018

The 2018 midterm elections Tuesday will have an outsized effect on American politics for the next few years.

A historic number of women and minorities are running, meaning that it’s very likely that America’s political class could start to look more like the people who elect it. If Democrats retake the House of Representatives, as expected, they could gain new powers to investigate President Donald Trump’s Administration and block his agenda.

And changes at the state level could touch on everything from gerrymandering to recreational marijuana to climate change.

With so many races, it can be hard to keep track, so News time has put together a rough guide to some of the most interesting questions that will be settled by Tuesday’s election results.

Here are some of the races to watch in the 2018 midterm elections.

Will Democrats take the House?

Races to watch:

  • Amy McGrath (D) vs. Andy Barr (R) for Kentucky’s 6th congressional district
  • Jennifer Wexton (D) vs. Barbara Comstock (R) for Virginia’s 10th congressional district

Democrats are projected to win the House of Representatives, but there’s a slim but still real chance that Republicans could hang on. To get a sense of how the night is going to go, watch for races featuring Republican incumbents like Rep. Andy Barr in Kentucky and Rep. Barbara Comstock in Virginia, where polls will close early. If the incumbents can hang on in those races, it will be a sign the night may be more favorable for House Republicans than expected.

Wis. Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Wis.) talks to the crowd before U.S. President Donald Trump makes an appearance at a rally on October 24, 2018 in Mosinee, Wisconsin.
Andy Manis—Getty Images

Did Trump help Republican candidates?

Races to watch:

  • Tammy Baldwin (D) vs. Leah Vukmir (R) for Wisconsin senator
  • Bill Nelson (D) vs. Rick Scott (R) for Florida senator

A number of Republican candidates have decided to embrace Trump in hopes that he’ll energize the conservative grassroots to turn out for them. There’s a risk in some purple states that they could also energize liberal voters, but candidates for senator and governor have decided it’s worth the tradeoff. If the gamble works, that will solidify Trump’s hold over the party, but if it fails, it could lead to an internal debate within the GOP over its future.

Read More: Republican Senate Candidates Are Gambling on Trump

President Donald Trump listens as Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., talks about Trump and her Senate bid during a rally in Johnson City, Tenn., on Oct. 1, 2018.
Susan Walsh—AP/REX/Shutterstock

Will Republicans keep the Senate?

Races to watch:

  • Phil Bredesen (D) vs. Marsha Blackburn (R) for Tennessee senator
  • Kyrsten Sinema (D) vs Martha McSally (R) for Arizona senator

Republicans are projected to maintain control of the Senate, but there is a narrow path for a Democratic upset. It would mean troubled Democratic incumbents like Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota win while Republican incumbents such as Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada lose. While every race would count, two of the more interesting ones to watch involve the seats left vacant by retiring Trump critics Bob Corker of Tennessee and Jeff Flake of Arizona. Also of note: Can Taylor Swift’s endorsement help?

Read More: A Crucial Senate Race in Tennessee Is Coming Down to the Wire

Democratic Georgia gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams (C) speaks to supporters while flanked by Boston City Council woman Ayanna Pressley (R) and Democratic Senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren during a campaign rally in Morrow, Georgia, USA, October 9, 2018.
John Amis—EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Will more women get elected?

Races to watch:

  • Stacey Abrams (D) vs. Brian Kemp (R) for Georgia governor
  • Deb Haaland (D) vs. Janice Arnold-Jones (R) for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District

Women have already broken the records for the number of candidates for governor and Congress, and there are signs that they could make history again in the midterms. That includes both potential firsts, such as the first Native American woman in Congress and the first African-American woman to serve as governor, as well as what some observers have predicted could be a “pink wave” of historic numbers of women winning races for the House and Senate.

Read More: Here Are Some of the Women Who Could Make History in the Midterm Elections

Democrat Andrew Gillum makes a point during his debate with Republican Ron DeSantis at Broward College October 24, 2018 in Davie, Florida.
Wilfredo Lee-Pool/Getty Images

Will young voters turn out?

Race to watch:

  • Andrew Gillum (D) vs. Ron DeSantis (R) for Florida governor

Young voters have strongly negative views of Trump and the Republican Party, but they do not turn out to vote as reliably as older Americans, who are more supportive, especially in midterms. There are signs that this election may be different, however. Youth turnout rates among early voters are already much higher than 2014, while a poll from the Harvard Institute of Politics showed voting among younger Americans could reach record levels this year.

Read More: Inside a 22-Year-Old’s Campaign for a Connecticut State Senate Seat

President Donald Trump (L) and Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, participate in a groundbreaking ceremony for the $10 billion Foxconn factory complex on June 28, 2018 in Mt. Pleasant, Wisconsin.
Scott Olson—Getty Images

How is Trump doing in the 2020 battlegrounds?

Races to watch:

  • Gretchen Whitmer (D) vs. Bill Schuette (R) for Michigan governor
  • Tony Evers (D) vs. Scott Walker (R) for Wisconsin governor
  • Bob Casey (D) vs. Lou Barletta (R) for Pennsylvania senator

The President is not on the ballot this year, but many election watchers are keeping a close eye on races in three states he narrowly won in 2016 for clues to how his re-election effort may fair. In Wisconsin, Republican Gov. Scott Walker is facing a tough fight for a third term in office, while Democrat Gretchen Whitmer is in Michigan’s open gubernatorial race. Meantime, in Pennsylvania, incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Casey appears to be cruising to victory.

Read More: These Races for Governor Are Really Tight — And Could Impact You Even If You Don’t Live There

Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas (R) listens as Democratic challenger and US Representative from Texas Beto O'Rourke (L) gives his final remarks during a debate before the US Midterm elections in San Antonio, Texas, on Oct. 16, 2018.
TOM REEL—POOL/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Will Texas become a purple state?

Race to watch:

  • Beto O’Rourke (D) vs. Ted Cruz (R) for Texas senator

Democrats have not won statewide in the Lone Star State since 1994, but three-term Rep. Beto O’Rourke is seeking to upend that trend through massive small-dollar fundraising and aggressive campaigning. While O’Rourke has captured the imaginations of many Democrats, it’s still an open question of whether he can beat incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz. But even if he loses, he could help other Democratic candidates down-ballot, and a strong showing would portend a shift in Texas politics.

Read More: Can Beto O’Rourke Win? Texas Democrats Hold Their Breath

Will voters approve a carbon tax to fight climate change?

Ballot measure to watch:

  • Initiative 1631 in Washington state

The Trump Administration has prioritized rolling back climate change measures, leaving many state and officials to pick up the slack. Voters in Washington state will decide whether to enact what would be one of the biggest steps to filling the void on global warming void with what would be the country’s first carbon tax. Observers say that a success would likely inspire similar efforts in other states and shape a burgeoning effort at the federal level.

Read More: Climate Change Is on the Ballot in Washington State. Here’s Why It Matters

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