5 things to watch for on Election Day

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NEDRA PICKLER
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A look at the news, events and the stories to watch for on Election Day:

ALL EYES ON THE SENATE

Republicans need six seats to take control, and they’re in good shape to get them. A GOP takeover would leave President Barack Obama with no allies in the congressional majority to advance his agenda in his final two years in office. But with two races possibly headed to runoff elections, we may not know who will hold the gavel for a few more weeks.

CAN DEMOCRATS RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR BUCK THE GOP TREND?

Democrats hoped races for governor would be a bright spot this election year. But even in Democratic-leaning New England, they’ve been playing defense against strong Republican challenges. Obama went out on the campaign trail for governors in the final push, so their performance will be an indicator of whether he can still rally the party faithful.

REPUBLICANS LOOK TO MAKE HISTORIC GAINS IN THE HOUSE

Democrats don’t really have a shot at winning back the House. The question is how big a majority the GOP will run up. The catchy slogan for House Republicans is “Drive for 245″ — a pickup of 11 seats. That would top the 2010 tea party wave that led to 242 GOP representatives. If they can win more than 246 seats, they would top the party’s post-World War II record, set in the 1947-49 Congress during the Truman administration.

POT POLITICS

Among the 140 ballot measures to be decided Tuesday are four initiatives to legalize the use of marijuana. Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia are deciding whether to allow recreational use, while Florida has a measure to legalize medical use. Colorado and Washington state legalized recreational use two years ago on the wave of young voters who came out for Obama. Can backers get enough support in a midterm, when the electorate tends to skew older and more conservative?

TECHNOLOGY’S IMPACT ON TURNOUT

Americans historically vote in lower numbers in midterm elections than when motivated by a presidential race. Can modern technology change the game? Both parties are using sophisticated methods to find and recruit voters from the 2008 and 2012 campaigns. And they are using more targeted methods to get them to the polls, including trained volunteers and paid workers. Democrats have the most at stake, since their voters are more likely to drop off in a midterm, and are pinning their hopes on the strategy.

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Follow Nedra Pickler on Twitter at https://twitter.com/nedrapickler

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