Record turnout expected at US midterms as both sides ‘energised’
Democrats seek to win back control of both houses of Congress as Trump rallies voters
US president Donald Trump arrives for a “Make America Great Again” campaign rally at McKenzie Arena, in Chattanooga, Tennessee on Sunday. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images
Americans go to the polls on Tuesday in one of the most consequential midterm elections in decades, as Democrats seek to win back control of both houses of Congress from Republicans.
With a record number of early votes cast, analysts predict that turnout could beat midterm records, with both parties claiming that their voters are energised.
Polls open at 7am, with the first polls closing in Indiana and parts of Kentucky at 6pm eastern time. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are on the ballot as well as 35 senate seats and 36 governor positions, including high-profile races in Georgia and Florida. Approximately 70 House seats are seen as “toss-ups”, meaning they could go either way, though Democrats have been consistently leading in polls. Less certain is Democrats’ path to the Senate, where the minority party is facing a difficult political map, and fighting to retain seats in states won by Donald Trump in 2016.
The US president, who has held dozens of rallies in the run-up to the mid-terms, made a final whistle-stop tour of three states on the eve of the election. Beginning in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, where he campaigned for Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine, Mr Trump was due to travel on to Indiana to campaign for Senate candidate Mike Braun, before holding his last rally of the campaign in Missouri, where 38-year-old state attorney-general Josh Hawley is taking on incumbent Democratic senator Claire McCaskill.
Speaking as he left for the trio of rallies, Mr Trump predicted that “something is happening”.
“There is a great electricity in the air like we haven’t seen, in my opinion, since the ’16 election,” he told reporters.
Throughout the day Mr Trump tweeted support for several Republicans facing tight election races in states across the country.
“If @AndrewGillum did the same job with Florida that he has done in Tallahassee as Mayor, the State will be a crime ridden, overtaxed mess,” he said of the Democratic nominee for governor in Florida, adding: “@RonDeSantisFL will be a great Governor. VOTE!!!!!!”
First and centre
According to CNN’s final midterm poll, Mr Trump’s approval rating is at 39 per cent – much lower than any other recent president at this point in the midterm election cycle. Nonetheless, the president has put himself first and centre in this election, despite the fact that his presidency is not on the ballot.
While the president focused on three mid-western states in the final day of campaigning, he has stayed away from states where his brand of republicanism seems to be less popular, such as Arizona and Nevada. Democrats are hoping that those two states offer them an opportunity to win two Senate seats.
Mr Trump was also heavily criticised for running ads that linked the murder of two police officers in California in 2014 to the caravan of migrants making its way through central America. Fox News, NBC and Facebook followed CNN and pulled the ads on Monday. NBC had faced a backlash for carrying the ad during a prime time football game on Sunday night.