10:25: Heidi Heitkamp has been declared the loser in North Dakota. Congratulations to Kevin Cramer, the next GOP Senator from that state. At this point, the GOP is poised to gain seats in the upper chamber, not lose them. Tomorrow we’ll come back with some analysis of what this portends, but honestly, not a lot has changed. The blue wave hit a red wall in the Senate and in the House, the wave was more of a ripple by historical standards.

9:30: We’re getting slow results from North Dakota, but here’s an early look. It’s not bad for the GOP. (Click for full size image.)

9:10: No idea how he did it, but Joe Manchin has been projected to win. That’s a solid hold for the Democrats. The GOP needed to flip that one to get any sort of “red wave” in the Senate. Still waiting on North Dakota.

9:00: In North Dakota, Heidi Heitkamp is performing better than expected, while still behind, and it’s still too close to call. It would be a major shock if he comes back for the win.

8:26: It’s still early, but as expected, ABC is calling New Jersey for Menendez. Apparently a hung jury is good enough to carry the day.

8:15: Amazingly, New Jersey is too close to call. I’m not getting my hopes up yet, but if Bob Menendez is going to win he’s going to have to fight for it.

7:30: As expected, the West Virginia polls have closed but the Manchin race is too close to call. But when some of the larger districts start reporting we might still have an answer fairly early.

[Original post follows]
We’ll just set the scene up front since there won’t be much to discuss until the actual results start rolling in a couple of hours from now. At that point, I’ll add updates at the top and keep this at the bottom of the article for a starting point.

The three states I’ll be keeping a particularly close eye on are in the title. I’ll start with New Jersey since it’s closest to home for me. There are a couple of interesting House races, but the big ticket item is Bob Menendez’s Senate seat. Despite his deadlock corruption trial and persistent rumors of a certain “fondness” for underage “professional women/girls,” it looked like the Senator was a shoo-in for re-election most of the year. Then, in just the past month, the polls started to narrow. At one point in late October, Emerson had Bob’s lead down to only 5. But then Quinnipiac showed him back up to +15 this weekend, so it’s not looking good for his opponent. I’d venture to say that Menendez still gets over the finish line with at least a ten point margin.

In North Dakota, it’s all about Heidi Heitkamp. The Democrat’s numbers have been tanking and many pundits have already written her off, but you never know what a high turnout election might bring. This race is key because it’s one of a handful of Democratic-held seats where the GOP can flip it to red, making the minority party’s climb to control of the Senate all the steeper. And we may have to offset a few losses, so the GOP can’t afford to lose this one.

West Virginia is our other featured Senate race (and possibly a House seat or two) to keep tabs on. Joe Manchin should have been vulnerable. Every political operative playbook would tell you that he’s ripe for the picking. And yet Joe Manchin is still riding a series of polls showing him with a five-point lead. Unless President Trump really brings every last Republican out of the woodwork and drives a few independents in the other direction, Joe may be sticking around for six more long years.

On with the show!