Election Countdown: Election Day edition | Hour-by-hour viewer's guide | What to watch as results come in | Pundits' predictions | Election to deliver verdict on Trump | GOP braces for possibility of losing House | Dems see slim hopes for taking Senate

Election Countdown: Election Day edition | Hour-by-hour viewer's guide | What to watch as results come in | Pundits' predictions | Election to deliver verdict on Trump  | GOP braces for possibility of losing House | Dems see slim hopes for taking Senate

This is Election Countdown, The Hill's newsletter from Lisa Hagen (@LA_Hagen) and Max Greenwood (@KMaxGreenwood) that brings you the biggest stories on the campaign trail. We'd love to hear from you, so feel free to reach out to Lisa at LHagen@thehill.com and Max at MGreenwood@thehill.com. with any questions, comments, criticisms or food recommendations (mostly the latter, please). Click here to sign up.

 

TODAY is Election Day for the 2018 midterms! (And, we're 728 days until the 2020 elections.)

 

Election Day is here! One of the most memorable, closely watched and polarized elections is coming to a close as people around the country--and world--watch results trickle in tonight.

All eyes will be on Kentucky starting at 6 p.m. and polls around the country will be closing all the way until 1 a.m. EST on Wednesday. Check out our hour-by-hour guide of poll closings

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Before all the fun really begins, check out what to watch tonight from The Hill's Lisa Hagen and Max Greenwood while you wait:

Turnout: How big will turnout actually be? If early voting is any indictor, then most likely it will be huge for a midterm year. At least 38 million already cast their vote ahead of Election Day and early vote totals in 30 states plus Washington, D.C. surpassed their 2014 early voting, according to U.S. Elections Project. Meanwhile, Arizona, Nevada and Texas already surpassed their 2014 total vote, which includes both early voting and voting on Election Day.

"Year of the Woman": They marched, they ran, and now female nominees are hoping to make major gains to make 2018 another "Year of the Woman." 2018 has seen a historic number of women win major party primaries. That means the number of women who serve in Congress is likely to grow its ranks from the current number of 84. One thing is for certain: female nominees and voters will play a central role in this midterm.

Anti-Pelosi Democrats: More than 50 House Democratic candidates have said they won't support House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiHouse Dems unveil measure to reject anti-Israel boycotts Freshman Dems to meet with Obama next week The Hill's Morning Report - Trump's intraparty feuds divide Republicans MORE (D-Calif.) for a leadership role. So if Democrats take back the House--with many of those candidates winning--the math could become complicated for Pelosi. The jockeying begins in earnest the day after the election, when it'll become clear what hurdles stand in the way for the House Democratic leader.

House majority: Democrats will pick up seats, but just how many? The party needs 23 seats to take back the House and the math is already in their favor. Keep an eye on which seats end up flipping to see if Democrats are in store for a big wave. Ones we are watching: Kentucky's 6th District, West Virginia's 3rd, Arkansas's 2nd and Maine's 2nd.

Senate majority: Republicans are heavily favored to hold onto their narrow 51-seat majority, but Democrats still have the slightest hope of finding a path--or at the very least limiting GOP gains. Democrats have a tough map since 10 of their incumbents are up for reelection in red states. But the battle for majority will go down to the wire since a handful of seats are too close to call.

Trump appeal: President TrumpDonald John TrumpClinton and Ocasio-Cortez joke about Kushner's alleged use of WhatsApp Missouri Gov. declares state of emergency amid severe flooding Swalwell on Hicks testimony: 'She's going to have to tell us who she lied for' in Trump admin MORE acknowledged at one of his campaign rallies on election eve that the midterms will be a referendum on his first two years in office. Tuesday will be a big test for Trump as he heads into his 2020 reelection bid: is he still popular in red states that overwhelmingly back him in 2016? Did his heated rhetoric on immigration help drive out the base and prove to be an effective message?

 

Make sure to come back to The Hill at 6 p.m. when the campaign team will be live blogging results and updates as polls close across the country.

 

Curious what the political watchers are thinking? Click here for The Hill's pundit predictions.

  

Senate showdown

Democrats see a surge in voter turnout as a boon to their prospects of limiting Republican gains in the Senate, The Hill's Alexander Bolton reports. The party is dealing with a largely unfavorable Senate map this year and has only slim hopes of taking control of the chamber. But they're convinced that if turnout is high on Election Day, they may see a number of hard-fought races swing in their direction.

 

It's unusual for TV news anchors to give candidate-style speeches. But that didn't stop Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro from stumping alongside Trump in Missouri on Monday night. The three were in Missouri, where the state's Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley is looking to oust Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillLobbying world Dem candidate has Hawley served subpoena at CPAC Annual scorecard ranks GOP environmental efforts far below Dems in 2018 MORE (D-Mo.) in one of the most competitive Senate races of the cycle. A Fox News spokesperson said on Tuesday that the network "does not condone" the hosts' appearances with the president.

  

Wave watch

More GOP House seats are looking vulnerable, and Republicans are bracing for the potential loss of their majority, The Hill's Melanie Zanona and Juliegrace Brufke report. Leaders recognize the numbers, but the party believes it still has a chance of holding down its majority because it is defending many districts that were drawn to protect the party from a blue wave. Democrats need to pick up at least 23 House seats to recapture control of the chamber and the electoral map is leaning in their favor.

 

Former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyComey: I'm not rooting for Mueller to demonstrate Trump is a criminal Trump's attacks on McCain exacerbate tensions with Senate GOP Former White House staffer Hope Hicks to cooperate with Dems' probe into Trump MORE spent Election Day canvassing for Democrat Jennifer Wexton, who's challenging Rep. Barbara ComstockBarbara Jean ComstockGOP lawmaker introduces bill to stop revolving door Ex-lawmakers face new scrutiny over lobbying Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign MORE (R-Va.) for her Northern Virginia House seat. Comey, a former Republican who served in the Justice Department under President George W. Bush, was fired from the top FBI post last year by Trump. Since then, he's spoken critically of the president.

 

Trump and his Republican allies are preparing for a series of possible losses in the Midwest – a region that paved the president's path to victory in 2016, Politico Magazine reports. The real estate mogul was carried to the White House on the backs of white, working-class voters in the Rust Belt and throughout the Midwest, prompting optimism among Republicans that white, working-class voters in the region were aligning more closely with the GOP. But now, many of the party's candidates in states like Wisconsin and Michigan are struggling to remain competitive.

 

State watch

Republicans are preparing for major Democratic gains in governor's mansions across the country, The Hill's Reid Wilson reports. Thirty-six states will elect governors on Tuesday and virtually all of the most competitive races are in states held by Republicans. Democrats are seen as likely to pick up governorships in Illinois and New Mexico and have decent prospects in Florida, Michigan and Maine, all of which currently have GOP executives.

 

Early and absentee voting is booming. So far, 38 million people have cast their ballots – and that was before Election Day voting even began. The New York Times reports that in 28 states and the District of Columbia, early vote totals have already surpassed 2014 levels. That year, 27 million people voted earlier. But early voting in 2016 has both 2014 and 2018 beat. More than 47 million ballots were cast in advance of Election Day that year.

 

In a year in which there's no shortage of competitive races, legal battles over voting laws are making those contests even tighter, The Hill's Lydia Wheeler reports. Judges in Arizona and North Dakota, where candidates are battling it out in two closely watched Senate races, have rejected challenges in recent months to statutes that are likely to keep thousands of people from voting. And in Georgia, a high-profile fight over the state's "exact match" registration verification process has put the gubernatorial race there in the national spotlight.

 

Survey says…

Some good news for Democrats on Election Day. A Gallup poll released Tuesday shows 54 percent of likely voters choosing Democratic House candidates, while 43 percent back Republicans. Another takeaway from that poll: 50 percent of U.S. adults say they expect Republicans to keep control of the House, compared to 44 percent who say Democrats will win the chamber. In the past, those predictions have proven correct. But what's notable this year is how narrow the margin is.

 

Coming to a TV near you

Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee for Florida governor, is out with his final ad of the 2018 cycle. The 30-second spot features interwoven clips of the progressive Tallahassee mayor speaking at rallies and meeting with supporters, while one of Gillum's speeches plays in the background. "When you're governor of Florida, you gotta be the governor for all the people of the state of Florida," Gillum says in the ad, which urges people to "vote today." 

 

In case you missed it

Today's midterm elections will serve as a moment of truth for Trump – the first concrete evidence of whether the voters who propelled him to victory in 2016 are still in his corner or growing weary of him, The Hill's Niall Stanage reports. The president has cast the midterms as a referendum on his tenure, and has sought to fire up his conservative base to stave off losses on Election Day. But with that strategy comes a big question: What if he succeeds in firing up his own base only to find that his die-hard supporters are overwhelmed by Democratic enthusiasm?

 

The Hill's Election Countdown was written by Lisa Hagen, Max Greenwood and Kenna Sturgeon.