If you’re reading this, you’re interested in the outcome of the elections that will determine control of Congress for the next two years of Joe Biden’s presidency.
Nonpartisan political analysts project Republicans will make the net gain of at least the five seats they need to overturn the House’s Democratic majority. The evenly divided Senate, which Democrats lead only with the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris, is more in play.
What follows is an hour-by-hour guide of what to watch in some consequential House and Senate races as Tuesday’s election results begin to arrive. The 50 states are ordered by the time when they finish voting. All times are Eastern Standard. For states with multiple closing times, the latest one is listed.
Voting ends in: Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia
Georgia will be the first Senate battleground state to complete voting, but it may be the last to determine a winner.
Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and former football player Herschel Walker (R), a friend and ally of former president Donald Trump, are in a tight race that also includes Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver, whose presence could prevent either major candidate from winning the majority of all votes needed to avoid a runoff election that would be held Dec. 6.
House races that may be early bellwethers include Virginia’s 2nd, 7th and 10th Districts — all defended by two-term Democratic women who helped their party win control of the House in 2018 and defend it in 2020.
In the 2nd District anchored in Virginia Beach, Rep. Elaine Luria, a member of the select committee investigating Donald Trump’s role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack at the Capitol, is an underdog against state Sen. Jen Kiggans (R). In the 7th District between Richmond and Washington, Rep. Abigail Spanberger courted voters mostly new to her as she competed against Yesli Vega (R), a Prince William County supervisor and former police officer.
The 10th District, where most people live in Loudoun or Prince William counties, is a more Democratic-friendly area that would have voted for Biden over Trump by 18 percentage points in the 2020 election. Still, Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D) aired late ads on Washington television attacking Republican opponent Hung Cao, a Vietnamese immigrant and retired Navy officer.
Republicans unseating Spanberger and particularly Wexton could presage large gains for the GOP later in the evening. Spanberger may trail Vega early in the evening if, as expected, rural Republican counties report vote totals before more Democratic suburban and urban areas.
Also watch Indiana’s northwestern 1st District, a longtime Democratic bastion where one-term Rep. Frank Mrvan (D) faces a serious challenge from Jennifer-Ruth Green (R), an Air Force veteran whose upset win would ensure the 118th Congress will have at least one Black Republican woman.
“If the Republicans pick up that 1st District in Indiana, that’s huge,” ex-Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), who led the House Republicans’ campaign arm in the 2002 midterm election, said in an interview.
Reps. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) and Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) won close races in 2020 but were shored up in Republican-controlled redistricting. Georgia Republican Rich McCormick, a Marine Corps and Navy veteran, is a clear front-runner in the open 6th District north of Atlanta after Republican legislators redrew it to favor their party.
Vermont probably will shed its status as the only state never to have sent a woman to Congress. State Sen. Becca Balint (D) is favored to win the statewide House seat now held by Rep. Peter Welch (D), who’s a clear favorite to win the Senate seat of retiring 48-year incumbent Patrick Leahy (D).
Voting ends in: North Carolina, Ohio, West Virginia
Senate races in North Carolina and Ohio, where Republican incumbents are retiring, merit close watch even if they haven’t commanded as much national attention as Senate contests in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
In North Carolina, Trump-backed Rep. Ted Budd (R) is opposed by Cheri Beasley (D), a Black former state Supreme Court chief justice seeking a seat in a chamber that presently has no Black women. In Ohio, once a bellwether state that’s drifted Republican, 10-term Rep. Tim Ryan (D) courted Trump voters against JD Vance (R), an author and venture capitalist who won the Republican primary with Trump’s endorsement.
The top House race in North Carolina is in the open 13th District in metropolitan Raleigh, where Democratic state Sen. Wiley Nickel is competing against Republican Bo Hines, a former college football player and self-described “MAGA warrior” endorsed by Trump.
Ohio’s two most senior House members faced tougher re-elections after redistricting. Rep. Steve Chabot (R) of the Cincinnati-area 1st District is seeking a 14th term against Cincinnati councilman Greg Landsman (D), and 20-term Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) of the Toledo-area 9th District is opposed by J.R. Majewski (R), a Trump ally who protested outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Kaptur, whose House tenure is the longest ever by a woman, would eclipse Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) as the longest-serving woman in the history of Congress if she is re-elected.
Also watch Ohio’s open 13th District, a swing area in Akron and Canton where Democrat Emilia Sykes and Republican Madison Gesiotto Gilbert are competing.
Voting ends in: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee
The marquee race in this 16-state bloc may be the Pennsylvania US Senate contest between Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) and TV doctor Mehmet Oz (R). Both nominees have serious if different vulnerabilities: Fetterman is continuing to recover from a near-fatal stroke he suffered in May, while Oz has a more unfavorable public image and thinner ties to Pennsylvania than Fetterman.
Keep an eye on New Hampshire, where Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) is trying to fend off a late surge from Don Bolduc (R), a retired Army general who wasn’t the preferred candidate of the Republican leadership. Rep. Chris Pappas (D) is opposed by Karoline Leavitt (R), a 25-year-old former Trump White House press aide, in the 1st District, the more competitive of New Hampshire’s two districts. A loss by 2nd District Rep. Annie Kuster (D) to Robert Burns (R), a Trump-aligned candidate who beat a more moderate Republican in the primary with help from a Democratic group, would be a bigger upset.
In Connecticut’s 5th District, two-term Rep. Jahana Hayes (D) has been pressed by George Logan (R), a former state senator. Redistricting barely changed the 5th, moving 5,024 people from Torrington into the 1st District, so one can compare Hayes’s performance by municipality Tuesday to her 55%-43% re-election in 2020.
At this hour in Florida, the Panhandle counties that observe central time will have joined the bulk of the state in completing voting. We may know soon thereafter how well a congressional map promoted by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who’s favored to win re-election along with Sen. Marco Rubio (R), aided his party’s campaign to win control of the House. The new 28-district map may elect 20 Republicans, up from 16 currently, and deliver an early body blow to House Democrats who want to avert big House-seat losses.
Florida districts to watch include the Pinellas County-based 13th, which was revised to be more Republican-leaning than the district ex-Rep. Charlie Crist (D) vacated in August to concentrate on his campaign to unseat DeSantis. Republican Anna Paulina Luna, an Air Force veteran and conservative media personality endorsed by Trump, is favored over Democrat Eric Lynn, a Defense Department official during the Obama administration.
In Illinois, the most populous state where a Democratic legislature’s map became law, the party’s political cartography will be tested in several districts including the metropolitan Chicago-area 6th District of Rep. Sean Casten (D) and the northwestern 17th District, where no incumbent is running.
Rep. Jared Golden (Maine), the only Democrat who voted against the $1.9 trillion pandemic stimulus package Biden signed in March 2021, is opposed by ex-Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R) in a rural pro-Trump constituency. This is a rematch of a 2018 election that made Golden the first person in US history elected to Congress by way of a ranked-choice voting process that allow voters to select multiple candidates in order of preference.
Independent Tiffany Bond, who opposed Golden and Poliquin in 2018, is on the ballot again and would trigger the ranked-choice-voting rules if neither Golden nor Poliquin wins a majority of the vote in the first vote tabulation. In 2018, more Bond supporters preferred Golden to Poliquin and Maine election officials announced Golden’s win nine days after the election.
Other House rematches to watch in this time slot include Rep. Tom Malinowski’s (D-N.J.) underdog bid against former state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R) in the 7th District, which was made more Republican in redistricting. Across the Delaware River from the 7th District in eastern Pennsylvania, there are key rematches in the Lehigh Valley-based 7th District between Rep. Susan Wild (D) and businesswoman Lisa Scheller (R) and in the Scranton-area 8th District between Rep. Matt Cartwright (D) and Jim Bognet (R), a former Trump administration appointee.
Rhode Island could elect a Republican to the House for the first time in three decades. Allan Fung (R), a former Cranston mayor of Chinese descent who ran for governor in 2014 and 2018, and Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner (D) are in a close race to succeed retiring 11-term Rep. Jim Langevin (D).
Redistricting almost certainly will net Republicans a district in Tennessee, where Republican Andy Ogles is favored to succeed Rep. Jim Cooper (D), who retired after the new map dismantled his Nashville-centered 5th District.
Voting ends in: Arkansas
There’s no drama in federal elections in Arkansas, where Rep. French Hill (R) is more politically secure in the Little Rock-area 2nd District after favorable redistricting.
Voting ends in: Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Senate elections in Arizona and Wisconsin are highly competitive; also keep an eye on Colorado. In Arizona, Sen. Mark Kelly (D) is seeking a full six-year term over Blake Masters, a Trump-endorsed candidate whose benefactors include billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel. In Wisconsin, two-term Sen. Ron Johnson (R) faces Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D) in the only state Biden won in 2020 where a Republican senator sought re-election this year. In more Democratic Colorado, wealthy businessman Joe O’Dea (R) may give Sen. Michael Bennet (D) another close race.
New York’s many competitive House races include at least three on Long Island, one in Syracuse, and three in parts of the Hudson Valley. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who leads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is in a close race with Republican state assemblyman Mike Lawler in the 17th District, which is mostly in Rockland and Westchester counties. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) is a shoo-in to win a fifth term; the only suspense is whether he will remain the majority leader of the chamber.
In Texas, Republicans are eyeing three Hispanic-majority border districts after making gains in ancestrally Democratic south Texas in the 2020 election: the 15th District, where Monica De La Cruz (R) is favored to win over Michelle Vallejo (D); the 28th District, where moderate Rep. Henry Cuellar (D) of Laredo is opposed by Cassy Garcia, a former aide to Sen. Ted Cruz (R); and the 34th District, where Rep. Mayra Flores (R) is opposing Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D) after Flores won a special election in June under the old district lines.
Iowa’s congressional delegation will be all-Republican if the GOP unseats Rep. Cindy Axne (D) in the Des Moines-area 3rd Distrrict and if seven-term Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) — 89 years old and in public office continuously since 1959 — is re-elected along with the party’s three House members.
Colorado’s 8th, a newly created district north of Denver that’s almost 40% Hispanic, is worth watching because it would have given Biden and Trump about the same vote percentages as they won in the national popular-vote tally.
House rematches worth watching include Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.) against Amanda Adkins (R) in the eastern 3rd District, and Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) versus Marine Corps veteran Tyler Kistner (R) in the 2nd District south of Minneapolis.
In Michigan, Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D) and Dan Kildee (D) were pressed for re-election in swing districts by state Sen. Tom Barrett (R) and former Trump administration official Paul Junge (R), respectively. In a Grand Rapids-area district made more Democratic in redistricting, lawyer Hillary Scholten (D) may defeat John Gibbs (R), a former Trump administration official who ousted Rep. Peter Meijer in the Republican primary after Meijer voted to impeach Trump.
House Republicans in close races include Don Bacon (Neb.), who’s opposed by Democratic state Sen. Tony Vargas in Omaha, and Yvette Herrell (N.M.), who’s up against former Las Cruces councilman Gabe Vasquez in a Hispanic-majority district redrawn by Democrats.
Wisconsin Republican Derrick Van Orden, a former Navy SEAL who was outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, is favored to capture the western 3rd District of retiring 13-term Rep. Ron Kind (D).
Voting ends in: Montana, Nevada, Utah
Nevada wields outsized influence in the contest for control of Congress, with close races for the Senate and in three of its four House districts. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Reps. Dina Titus, Susie Lee and Steven Horsford — all Democrats — are laboring to defend their seats. Cortez Masto’s opponent, former state attorney general Adam Laxalt, is a son of the late Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and a grandson of the late Sen. Paul Laxalt (R-Nev.)
Montana adding a district in the 2020 reapportionment spurred a House comeback attempt by Republican Ryan Zinke, who represented its lone statewide district from 2015 to 2017 before becoming Trump’s first interior secretary. He’s running in the western 1st District against Democrat Monica Tranel.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) is favored to win a third term over independent Evan McMullin, a former CIA officer who ran for president in 2016 as an anti-Trump conservative independent. The Utah Democratic Party backed McMullin’s Senate bid.
Voting ends in: California, Idaho, Oregon, Washington
In California, which has more districts (52) than any other state, incumbents to watch include Rep. David Valadao, the only Republican who voted to impeach Trump who advanced to a competitive general election. Valadao is opposed by California assemblyman Rudy Salas (D) in the 22nd District, which abuts the district where House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy is a shoo-in for re-election.
The California redistricting commission’s remap prompted Rep. Katie Porter (D), one of the most conspicuous progressives in Congress, to seek re-election in the mostly new-to-her 47th District. Her opponent is Scott Baugh (R), a former California assemblyman.
California has a lengthy vote-counting process and it may take more than a week to determine some winners. Under a 2021 law, every active registered voter in California was sent a vote-by-mail ballot, and mail ballots may be received up to Nov. 15 so long as they’re postmarked by election day. In 2020, when Valadao won by less than a percentage point, the Associated Press declared him the winner 24 days after the election.
In Oregon, which became the nation’s first all vote-by-mail state in 2000, Democrats controlled the redistricting process but are grappling with determined Republican challenges in three districts — the 4th, the 5th, and the new 6th — that Biden would have won by between 9 and 13 percentage points.
In Washington state, which also votes by mail, Sen. Patty Murray (D) would win a sixth term by staving off a bid by from Tiffany Smiley (R). Rep. Kim Schrier (D) is in a close race with Matt Larkin (R) in the 8th District in suburbs and farmland east of Seattle.
Voting ends in: Hawaii
Democrat Jill Tokuda, a former state senator, is favored to win the 2nd District seat that Rep. Kai Kahele (D) is giving up after just one term following an unsuccessful run for governor.
Voting ends in: Alaska
Rep. Mary Peltola (D), the first Alaska Native in Congress, may beat ex-Gov. Sarah Palin for the second time in 12 weeks.
Peltola edged Palin in an Aug. 16 special election — the first time Alaska used a ranked-choice voting system — after more than 25% of voters who preferred the third-place candidate, Republican businessman Nick Begich, listed Peltola as their second choice. All three are seeking a full two-year term.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the only Republican senator on a ballot Tuesday who voted to convict Trump at his second impeachment trial, faces Trump-endorsed Republican Kelly Tshibaka and little-known Democratic and libertarian candidates. While most Republicans may side with Tshibaka, Murkowski could stitch together a winning coalition of Republican, Democratic and independent voters.
Alaska election officials will begin releasing first-choice results soon after 1 a.m. eastern time. For any races where a winner doesn’t get a majority of the vote, the ranked-choice voting tabulations will be conducted and announced Nov. 23.
With assistance from Zach C. Cohen and Andrew Small
To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Giroux in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org