The smart money says the Louisiana Senate race is headed to a runoff. Georgia may be headed to one, too. (Runoffs are triggered in those states if no candidate wins a majority.) If control of the Senate is on the line, these two states will be the focus of the political world for the next couple of months. Louisiana's runoff would be Dec. 6. Georgia's Senate runoff would be Jan. 6 -- after the new Congress is scheduled to be sworn in.
3. How many seats will Republicans gain in the House?
It's becoming increasingly clear that this election is shaping up as a painful one for House Democrats. After talking up their recruits and offensive opportunities for months, they have shifted lots of money toward protecting endangered incumbents. National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden (Ore.) has been saying for months that getting to 245 is an attainable goal for Republicans, who currently hold a 233-199 advantage. That would be a big victory for House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Co. President Obama's low approval rating is dragging down Democrats everywhere. But the reason gaining a dozen or so seats is on the high end of what observers are predicting for Republicans is that they did so well in 2010, so there simply aren't nearly as many swing districts that can realistically be flipped.
4. Will Republicans hold their 29 gubernatorial seats?
Republicans have set a public goal for governor's races: Walk away with 29 wins -- exactly the number they currently hold. What's so exciting about treading water? Well, considering that the GOP is defending 22 seats compared to just 14 for Democrats, and they have nine incumbents running in states Obama won twice, it would be more of an accomplishment than meets the eye. Democrats have declined to set a public goal of their own. Both sides have added unlikely pickup opportunities to the fold, scrambling the landscape. The GOP could spring upsets in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Colorado. Democrats could pick off Kansas and Georgia.
Two of the most interesting subplots in the gubernatorial landscape involve household names whose political fortunes hinge on the outcome of today: their careers will take a serious hit if they lose, and be set on a superstar trajectory if they win. If Walker wins reelection in Wisconsin, he will reaffirm his spot on the short list of top potential candidates for president. If he loses, he's no longer on that list. Polls shows Walker in a competitive race against Democratic challenger Mary Burke. Coakley, who lost to Scott Brown disastrously in 2010, is getting a second chance in Massachusetts -- although there are signs she might be about to blow it in the governor's race against Republican Charlie Baker: She's struggled to raise money, and has run a lackluster campaign. But she can still put it in the past with a win that would propel her to the top job in one of the most liberal states in the country. If she loses, it's hard to see her generating any enthusiasm for another campaign for higher office.
6. Can embattled Republicans Michael Grimm and Vance McAllister defy the odds and hold their House seats?
Grimm (R-N.Y.) is under indictment on tax and business fraud allegations. McAllister has become known as the "kissing congressman" after being caught on camera kissing a staffer who was not his wife. Yet both of them stand a chance of winning. McAllister is using the same "politics of forgiveness" playbook Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) used in his successful comeback. Grimm has insisted he is innocent, and enjoys a base of support that doesn't seem to be too moved by the allegations he is facing.
7. Which 2016ers will walk away with the most IOUs?
This will be a bigger question once the election is over and the dust has cleared. There's no better way to set yourself up for 2016 than making important friends in 2014. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has been playing nice with the establishment, backing mainstream Republican contenders left and right. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has raised boatloads of money for GOP candidates and barnstormed the country as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. Others, like Hillary Clinton (D) and Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) have also pitched in for their party. It won't be long before they all try to collect on their unofficial IOUs.