What Time Will the Polls Close?
Posted November 6, 2018 7:32 a.m. EST
Two years after President Donald Trump’s surprising victory, voters across the country will once again head to the polls Tuesday.
In the House, Democrats need to pick up 23 seats to win control and they appear to have the advantage. The Senate map is trickier for Democrats because a number of vulnerable incumbents must defend their seats in states Trump won. Outside of federal races, voters will also decide on state and local contests, including 36 seats for governor.
The first polls close at 6 p.m., Eastern time, and the last closes seven hours later in Alaska.
— 6 p.m. ET
Most of Indiana, eastern half of Kentucky
What to watch: Keep an eye on the most watched race in Kentucky: the 6th Congressional District, where Amy McGrath, a former Marine, is trying to unseat a male Republican incumbent, Rep. Andy Barr. This race is likely to provide an early glimpse into whether the so-called blue wave is on. The big prize in Indiana is the Senate race, where Joe Donnelly, a Democrat, is trying to hold on to his seat.
— 7 p.m. ET
Georgia, most of Florida, New Hampshire, rest of Indiana, western Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia
What to watch: The critical contests closing at this hour include a hotly contested governor’s race between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp in Georgia, and races for governor and a Senate seat in Florida. With a focus on the 5th, 7th and 10th congressional districts in Virginia, Democrats are hoping the state will launch them into a dream scenario, where the control of the House is virtually settled before 8 p.m. Eastern.
— 7:30 p.m. ET
Ohio, North Carolina, West Virginia
What to watch: In Ohio, the 12th Congressional District remains the Democrats’ best hope for a House pickup in the state. North Carolina has several swing districts, and in West Virginia, Sen. Joe Manchin — once considered an endangered incumbent— is now a front-runner, particularly after becoming the lone Democrat to support Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
— 8 p.m. ET
Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida Panhandle, Illinois, most of Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, most of Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, eastern half of South Dakota, Tennessee, most of Texas
What to watch: By this time, voters in more than half of the states will have cast their ballots and polls will have closed in a number of high-profile races. One of the most talked-about races in the country — and among the most expensive — is the Texas Senate race between Democratic candidate, Beto O’Rourke, and Ted Cruz, a Republican. In Tennessee, Taylor Swift’s endorsement of two Democrats has added excitement to a House and Senate race there. In Missouri, Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, faces one of the nation’s toughest re-election races. In deeply blue New Jersey, Bob Menendez, the Democratic incumbent, is in an unexpectedly close race, partially fueled by ethics troubles. There are also critical House races in New Jersey, including the Republican-held 7th Congressional District, one of Democrats’ prime targets.
— 8:30 p.m. ET
What to watch: The only semi-competitive district is Arkansas’s 2nd District, which recently was in the news because of a controversial ad supporting French Hill, the Republican incumbent. Hill is favored to win.
— 9 p.m. ET
Rest of Kansas, Louisiana, rest of Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, western half of South Dakota, rest of Texas, Wisconsin, Wyoming
What to watch: Led by Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic governor candidate, Michigan’s almost all-female ticket is set to create big gains in state and federal races. Whitmer is one of the Democrats’ best hopes to win a governor’s seat in a state Trump won in 2016. In Wisconsin, all eyes are on Republican Scott Walker, who after years of seeming invincible, is facing his toughest re-election yet. Democrats are also hoping for a symbolic victory in the seat vacated by retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan. In Minnesota, the 1st Congressional District is considered Republicans’ best chance to unseat a sitting Democrat. Republicans also have their eyes set on the attorney general race, where accusations of domestic abuse against Keith Ellison, the Democrat, has created an opening for his opponent.
— 10 p.m. ET
Arizona, Colorado, southern half of Idaho, Montana, Nevada, most of North Dakota, southeast corner of Oregon
What to watch: Three important Senate races dominate this Western collection of states: two women are vying for the open seat in Arizona vacated by Republican Jeff Flake; Sen. Dean Heller, a Republican, faces a tough re-election in Nevada; and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota is considered the most vulnerable Democrat. Expect results from these races to trickle in. The fate of the House may well be decided at this point in the night.
— 11 p.m. ET
California, northern part of Idaho, Iowa, rest of Oregon, Utah, rest of North Dakota, Washington
What to watch: If control of the House comes down to California, you may as well go to sleep. The notoriously slow-counting state has multiple swing districts, and it allows mail-in ballots all the way until Election Day. If the races are close, this could lead to high drama. The best hope for Democrats in Washington is the open seat in the 8th Congressional District, which crosses the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle. Democrats are also eyeing Iowa’s 4th Congressional District, where Republican Rep. Steve King has repeatedly rankled feathers by supporting white nationalists and neo-Nazi sympathizers on Twitter.
— Midnight ET
Most of Alaska, Hawaii
What to watch: A governor’s race in Alaska surprisingly became competitive after Bill Walker, the independent incumbent, dropped out and endorsed the Democrat, Sen. Mark Begich. The race had been a close three-way battle, but now that it is just Democrat versus Republican, the seat is up for grabs.
— 1 a.m. E.T.
Rest of Alaska
What to watch: Voting will have been completed in all states.
— When to Expect Results
There is a difference between when polls close and when races are called. Ballots have to be counted and some counties are notoriously slow. Most election night experts believe the first swing races will be called around 10 p.m. Eastern time. Though some trends may be apparent earlier in the evening, do not expect an answer on which party has won the House until after 11 p.m. Eastern.
Sources: Ballotpedia (statewide poll closing times); The Cook Political Report (House race ratings).