With Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: The 2018 midterm elections were a referendum on Donald Trump. Two-thirds of voters said the president was a factor in how they voted, according to network exit polls. That allowed Democrats to win control of the House, and Republicans to expand their majority in the Senate. Here are 10 takeaways from the results:

1. Backlash to Trump materialized in the suburbs.

Nancy Pelosi looks poised to get her speaker’s gavel back after eight years as minority leader, and it’s thanks to college-educated suburban women. From Denver to Dallas and Detroit, the Democratic path ran through the suburbs. Republican incumbents went down in the ‘burbs outside Chicago (Peter Roskam), Minneapolis (Erik Paulsen), St. Paul (Jason Lewis), Houston (John Culberson) and even, unexpectedly, Oklahoma City (Steve Russell).

To underscore just how much of a drag Trump was in the suburbs of Kansas City, an openly lesbian Native American who used to be a professional kickboxer named Sharice Davids toppled Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.).

Preliminary exit polls show that women voted for House Democrats by a 21-point margin, 60 percent to 39 percent, while men split (48 percent backed Democrats and 50 percent backed Republicans).

Key in all these races is that independents broke toward congressional Democrats for the first time since Barack Obama led the ticket in 2008. Exit polls show that the 3 in 10 voters who didn’t identify with either party supported Democratic candidates by a 13-point margin, 54 percent to 41 percent. In 2016, for example, independents favored Republican candidates by a four-point margin. In 2014, Republicans won indies by 12 points.

Just north of Dallas, House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions was defeated by former NFL player Colin Allred. Two years ago, Sessions didn’t even have a Democratic challenger — as Hillary Clinton carried the district. This defeat is symbolically significant because Sessions chaired the National Republican Congressional Committee when the party won the House in 2010.

In the Atlanta suburbs, Republican Karen Handel — who won the special election last year to replace Tom Price in what became the most expensive House race in U.S. history — looks like she might have narrowly lost. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Democrat Lucy McBath leads by just over 2,000 votes. The race hasn’t been called, but the 6th Congressional District has one of the highest shares of college-educated voters in the country.

2. Trump’s 11-rally, six-day campaign swing helped Republicans far outperform expectations in the Senate.

Candidates the president traveled to campaign for in the homestretch knocked out Democratic incumbents in Missouri, Indiana and North Dakota. In two other Senate races that haven’t been called this morning, Republicans are currently leading Democratic incumbents. Florida Sen. Bill Nelson trails Gov. Rick Scott, and Montana Sen. Jon Tester is slightly behind state auditor Matt Rosendale with 82 percent of precincts reporting.

Arizona has not been called yet either, but with 99.3 percent of precincts reporting, Republican Rep. Martha McSally leads Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema by 16,000 votes — which is just under one percentage point.

The big winners in the Senate — North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer, Indiana businessman Mike Braun and Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley — all pledged fealty to Trump, as did Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R), who defeated former Democratic governor Phil Bredesen in Tennessee to replace retiring GOP Sen. Bob Corker.

In case you had any doubt, it turns out Trump’s endorsement packs a much bigger punch than Taylor Swift’s in the home of country music. Among those who voted, according to the exits, the president’s approval rating was 57 percent in Tennessee, 53 percent in Indiana, 52 percent in Arizona and 51 percent in both Missouri and Florida.

The results suggest that Trump could be more formidable when he runs for reelection in 2020 than his critics want to acknowledge. Republicans held the governorships in Florida and Ohio, for example, the two perennial presidential battlegrounds.

3. But, but, but: Not everything Trump touches turns to gold.

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) said in 2016 that he “vehemently” opposed Trump, and he even returned a campaign contribution he’d received from the GOP nominee. Trump lost the state in 2016, but Heller changed his tune last year to avert a primary challenge and to keep his base from splintering. When Trump came to stump for him in Elko two weeks ago, Heller hugged him. “Mr. President,” he said, “everything you touch turns to gold.”

Apparently, that’s not so in the Silver State. Thanks partly to strong Latino turnout, Heller lost reelection to Rep. Jacky Rosen (D), who Trump nicknamed “Wacky Jacky,” by five points. Republican Adam Laxalt, the state attorney general, lost the governor’s race to Democrat Steve Sisolak. And Republican Danny Tarkanian lost the competitive race for Rosen’s open House seat.

In Kansas, which the president carried by 21 points two years ago, Trump acolyte Kris Kobach lost the governor’s race to Democratic state Sen. Laura Kelly. Trump’s own political advisers and the Republican Governors Association had pleaded with the president not to endorse Kobach in the GOP primary because he’s such a polarizing and divisive figure. But Trump felt loyalty to the Kansas secretary of state, who advised him on immigration during the 2016 campaign and co-chaired his now disbanded commission that was set up to validate Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud. Kobach had also become hunting buddies with Donald Trump Jr. Ultimately, the president endorsed him — and he edged out sitting Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer by just 350 votes in August. Strategists in both parties agree that Colyer would have won the primary and the general election had Trump not endorsed Kobach.

Trump’s endorsements also cost Republicans a House seat in South Carolina. With the president’s support, Katie Arrington defeated Rep. Mark Sanford in a June primary by portraying him as insufficiently loyal to Trump. “We are the party of President Donald J. Trump,” she declared that night. Trump relished her victory and rubbed it in during a meeting with House Republicans. But Arrington’s promise to vote lockstep with Trump cost her in a coastal, Charleston-centered district that prizes independence. She lost to Democrat Joe Cunningham.

4. The realignment is real, and it’s much harder to defy political gravity than it used to be. America was already deeply polarized when Trump took office. The president has supercharged it. Red states got redder, and blue states got bluer on Tuesday.

Network exit polls found that 8 in 10 Americans believe the country is more divided than ever. In fact, we’re less divided than we were during the depths of Vietnam, and we’re certainly less divided than during the Civil War, but the fact it feels this way to the vast majority of people who cast ballots speaks volumes about the moment we’re in.

Just how potent a force is political tribalism? Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), the first GOP lawmaker to endorse Trump, appears to have narrowly won reelection, even though he faces a pending criminal trial for felony insider trading. Republicans have a 40,000-person registration advantage in the Buffalo area district, and his constituents stuck with him. He initially suspended his campaign when the feds filed charges, but when he couldn’t get his name off the ballot, he decided to try to win. Collins leads Democrat Nate McMurray by 1.1 percent, with 99 percent of the votes counted. McMurray is demanding a recount.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) is leading by eight points in his red district, even though he’s been indicted on a charge of egregiously misusing campaign money for his personal use. About 70 percent of the votes have been counted, and he blames his wife for any wrongdoing.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) won in his solidly Republican district even after being denounced by the chairman of the NRCC for a host of racially charged comments. He most recently said a far-right Austrian party with historical Nazi ties would be Republican were it in the United States.

Tribalism kept Democrats in line, as well.

New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez won reelection in his bright blue state by nine points, even though he was indicted by a court on federal corruption charges in 2015. The proceedings ended in a mistrial, but the Senate Ethics Committee “severely admonished” him earlier this year for accepting gifts in exchange for favors. His GOP opponent, Bob Hugin, spent millions on attack ads that highlighted all of this, but it wasn’t enough to persuade Democrats who loathe the president.

Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison (D) was elected as the state’s attorney general despite allegations of domestic abuse, which he denied, because it was such a strong night for Democrats in the state.

Some purple states showed signs of realignment. Consider these two presidential battlegrounds:

After Trump lost it two years ago, Colorado turned a little bluer. Rep. Jared Polis (D) became the first openly gay man elected governor, as Democrats made a clean sweep of statewide offices (attorney general, treasurer and auditor) and Jason Crow beat Rep. Mike Coffman (R) in the Denver suburbs, including Aurora. Democrats also won both chambers of the state legislature. These are warning signs for Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who is up for reelection in 2020. (As chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Gardner played a key role in the GOP’s pickups but will now need to focus on defending himself.)

Meanwhile, after Trump won it, North Carolina showed signs of getting a little redder in the federal races. George Holding, who I profiled last week, held on outside Raleigh by nationalizing the race. So too did Republican Rep. Ted Budd in the Triad (Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point). And Republican Mark Harris, who defeated incumbent Rep. Robert Pittenger in a May primary, is leading Democratic challenger Dan McCready near Charlotte despite a long history of incendiary remarks that put the red seat in play, though McCready is declining to concede.

5. Candidate quality matters — but only to a point.

Two impressive Democrats I wrote about last week defeated GOP incumbents in districts Trump carried two years ago: New York state Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi beat Rep. Claudia Tenney around Utica and former CIA clandestine officer Abigail Spanberger beat Rep. Dave Brat north of Richmond.

But Democrat Amy McGrath, the first female Marine to fly an F/A-18 on a combat mission, lost to Rep. Andy Barr in Kentucky despite running a dynamic campaign with great ads and massive fundraising. Barr had won in 2016 by 22 points in the district that includes Lexington and Frankfort. The area was just too red for a first-time Democratic candidate to overcome.

On the other hand, in Florida, former Bill Clinton HHS secretary Donna Shalala won despite waging what observers in both parties agree was an abysmal campaign. It’s because she was competing in a Miami district that Trump had lost by almost 20 points to replace the retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R). It didn’t matter that the Republican ran a better campaign.

There are some notable exceptions, like West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who withstood the pro-Trump tide. In a state Trump carried by 42 points, the Democrat got reelected by three points. The former governor was the only Democrat to vote for the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. He had a well-established brand as a moderate that predated Trump from his tenure as governor, so he could withstand the national atmospherics.

6. Moderate Democrats in the Midwest outperformed more ideological Democrats in the Sun Belt.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was denied a third term by Democrat Tony Evers, the temperamentally and ideologically moderate superintendent of public schools. Evers made the race a referendum on Walker, who has not yet conceded. Liberals were animated to vote even though Evers wasn’t a firebrand. Turnout in the strongholds of Madison and Milwaukee spiked compared to four years ago.

In Michigan, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer was elected governor by running on the promise to “fix the damn roads.” She bested more liberal challengers in the primary, who attacked her for not supporting Medicare-for-all. But she easily defeated GOP Attorney General Bill Schuette in the general by appealing to moderates and the business community.

Across the South, however, more liberal Democratic nominees struggled. Andrew Gillum lost the governor’s race in Florida. In Texas, Rep. Beto O’Rourke narrowly fell to Sen. Ted Cruz. In Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams trails Republican Brian Kemp, though she is not conceding and believes she might be able to get a runoff if the provisional ballots push the race her way. Other liberals in the region also struggled. (I wrote about this dynamic last month.)

7. The buzz that this would be a “Year of the Woman” redux came to fruition.

More than 100 women are on track to win seats in the House, breaking the previous record of 84 out of 435. “Overwhelmingly they were Democrats who helped the party take control of the chamber,” Mary Jordan reports. “Deb Haaland, a Democrat in New Mexico, will be one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress. … Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib, born in Detroit to Palestinian parents, and Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar, who arrived in the United States from Somalia at age 14, won their House races, becoming the first Muslim women elected to Congress.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 29-year-old who defeated Joe Crowley in a solidly blue New York district this spring, is now the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia will be Texas's first two Latina congresswomen.

Democrat Janet Mills will be the first female governor of Maine, and Republican Kristi Noem will be the first female governor of South Dakota. Guam also elected its first woman governor.

The Post made a cool interactive tool that tracks how all 277 women running for Congress and governor are faring. It’s still updating as results come in. (Check it out here.)

8. The Republican conferences in the House and Senate will be more Trumpian in 2019 than 2018. A lot of GOP incumbents who lost in suburban districts were the more moderating influences in the party. The members who remain will be more conservative than before.

Among the losers was Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), for example, who distanced himself from Trump as much as any other member of his party up for reelection. He pushed for a House vote to protect the “dreamers” from deportation. But he was knocked out by Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, an immigrant from Ecuador and educator, who focused her campaign largely on his vote to undermine Obamacare.

In the coming weeks, House Republicans will hold leadership elections where loyalty to Trump could be prized more than conservative bona fides, as House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and other Trump allies are expected to launch bids, with few if any of them showing any interest in challenging his authority,” Robert Costa notes.

Mitt Romney is the big exception — and a question mark. Jeff Flake and Bob Corker are retiring this year. John McCain has passed away. Will Romney carry their torch?

9. After Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Donnelly and Claire McCaskill lost, the Senate Democratic caucus is going to become even more liberal.

Another big factor: Because so many Senate Democrats are seriously considering presidential bids, they’ll push the center of gravity to the left next year. Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Chris Murphy and Amy Klobuchar each may run for president next year, and all of them easily won reelection on Tuesday in their home states. Other 2020 contenders in the Senate who weren’t on the ballot include Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Jeff Merkley. Watch for them to try outdoing one another in an effort to better position themselves to win over the progressive base.

10. The subpoenas will start flying in January as the Trump investigations begin.

Exit polls showed 40 percent of voters on Tuesday want Trump impeached, including 77 percent of Democrats and 33 percent of independents. Pelosi rejects this approach.

Instead, Democrats are expected to use their newly regained majority to scrutinize Trump administration policies on immigration, education and health care, and to examine his personal finances and potential ties to Russia,” Karoun Demirjian reports:

  • “The House Judiciary Committee will likely take the lead on health care, beginning with an investigation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s refusal to defend the Obama-era health-care law against a lawsuit from Republican-led states.
  • “Meanwhile, Democrats on the Education and Workforce Committee are poised to examine Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s efforts to relax regulations for for-profit colleges and limit student loan forgiveness.
  • “Presumptive Democratic Ways and Means chairman Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.) has said he intends to obtain [Trump’s tax returns] once in power, using a 1924 law that gives heads of the congressional tax-writing committees the right to request any person’s tax returns. The panel could then make them public with a simple majority vote.

Separately, presumptive House Financial Services Committee chairman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and presumed House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) could seek to unearth other information regarding Trump’s holdings. Waters has requested — and as the committee head could subpoena — records that could dislodge closely held details of Deutsche Bank’s relationship with the Trump Organization. On the Intelligence Committee, Schiff wants to scrutinize Trump’s efforts to strike a nuclear deal with North Korea and the administration’s willingness to cut deals with China, despite the national security threats the country poses.”

Privately, the president has started talking with aides and allies about how he might both work with Pelosi — and battle her. “While his advisers have grown worried that he is not prepared for the onslaught of investigations, he has taken some pleasure in saying he will have a foil in House Democrats,” Seung Min Kim and Josh Dawsey report. “At the same time, advisers said Trump might be open to dealing with the opposition party on certain issues and will probably welcome meetings with Pelosi more than some of his aides would like.”

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  1. Two more associates of Trump ally Roger Stone testified before the grand jury in Bob Mueller’s Russia investigation. The appearances by filmmaker David Lugo and attorney Tyler Nixon underscore Mueller's interest in whether Stone had advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’s plans to release hacked emails from Democrats during the 2016 election. (Manuel Roig-Franzia and Rosalind S. Helderman)

  2. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s planned New York meeting with his North Korean counterpart was called off at the last minute. The State Department did not provide any explanation for the cancellation or when a meeting might next occur. (Simon Denyer)

  3. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke called U.S. Park Police after an argument over parking broke out in front of his D.C. home. An Interior spokeswoman said the secretary alerted his protective security detail “about a suspicious individual staking out his home and guests,” but one observer accused the Cabinet member of trying to “harass” his neighbors. (Juliet Eilperin, Darryl Fears and Lisa Rein)

  4. Chinese trademark regulators awarded preliminary approval for 16 trademark applications from Ivanka Trump. The timing of the approvals, which covered a wide range of products that included semiconductors and voting machines, raised eyebrows due to the Trump administration’s ongoing trade negotiations with China. (Gerry Shih and Jonathan O'Connell)

  5. Hundreds in the migrant caravan are trying to make their way to Mexico City by holding onto tractor trailers or dangling off flatbed trucks. Officials are worried that some migrants could be harmed in the journey to Mexico City, which is still hundreds of miles from the migrants’ intended final destination of the U.S. border. (Maria Sacchetti)

  6. Motel 6 agreed to pay as much as $7.6 million to settle a lawsuit from former guests who said the hotel chain gave their information to ICE agents. The lawsuit followed reports the agency made at least 20 arrests at two Motel 6 locations in Arizona. (Lindsey Bever)

  7. Newly minted Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh joined his liberal colleagues in asking the state of Missouri tough questions about how it plans to execute a man with a rare medical condition. Russell Bucklew suffers from a disease that causes blood-filled tumors to grow in his head, neck and throat. His lawyers claim a lethal injection could cause the tumors to burst and make him choke to death on his own blood — a punishment they consider cruel and unusual. (Robert Barnes)

  8. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the first opinion of the Supreme Court’s new term, a unanimous decision that a federal law prohibiting age discrimination in employment applies to all state and local governments regardless of size. It marks the third consecutive year in which Ginsburg has penned the court’s first opinion. (Robert Barnes)

  9. NASA is conducting a research project to see how residents living near the Texas Gulf Coast respond to quiet sonic booms. The agency is working on an experimental aircraft that it hopes will reduce commercial flight times. (AP)

THE HOUSE:

-- The Democrats have gained control of the House for the first time in eight years. How did it happen? Fantastic long read from Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey: “As he flew aboard Air Force One to an airport hangar rally in Mosinee, Wis., [Trump] groused to aides about having to tone down his prepared remarks. Pipe bombs had been mailed to several of his favorite foils, including to the homes of two former presidents and the New York offices of CNN. It was a moment for presidential leadership, less than two weeks before the midterm elections that would deliver a verdict on his first two years in office. But, according to two aides familiar with Trump’s objections, the words set to be loaded into the teleprompter didn’t match the president’s own plans for closing the campaign, the details of which he had kept from other Republican leaders. He wanted controversy, fury and fear that would push limits and get ratings, paint a caravan of Central American migrants as a mortal threat and color Democrats as their co-conspirators. 

“At the White House, a number of senior aides had argued privately that Trump’s focus on fanning fears over immigration went too far. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) would call Trump twice in the final weeks to urge him to get off the nonstop immigration talk and refocus on the economy. He argued that Trump should focus on how voters outside the boisterous rallies reacted. Avoid distractions and needless fights, Ryan’s team argued with White House colleagues. Frame the election as a choice between Republican accomplishment and Democratic rhetoric. Trump would sound like he agreed on the phone, and then veer quickly back to what interested him, while complaining to his own advisers that Ryan, who was leaving office, had allowed too many of his members to retire. 

“It was pure Trump, and it cleared the way for a blow to the president’s governing coalition as Republicans lost the House while keeping firm control of the Senate. Republican losses in the House on Tuesday ran directly through the suburban districts that were most concerned about the president’s divisive behavior, with many races being decided by the thinnest of margins.”

-- Republicans’ loss of the House showed that “the rules of political gravity still exist in the Trump era,” the New York Times’s Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns report. “What was effectively a referendum on Mr. Trump’s incendiary conduct and hard-right nationalism may make some of the party’s lawmakers uneasy about linking themselves to a president who ended the campaign showering audiences with a blizzard of mistruths, conspiracy theories and invective about immigrants.”

-- Virginia Republicans lost a string of House seats Democrats considered key to their strategy to flip the chamber. Gregory S. Schneider reports: “State Sen. Jennifer T. Wexton defeated incumbent Rep. Barbara Comstock in the 10th District in suburban Washington, and newcomer Elaine Luria unseated Rep. Scott W. Taylor in the Hampton Roads area’s 2nd District. In a close race that went down to the last few precincts, Democrat Abigail Spanberger pushed past Rep. Dave Brat in the 7th District in the Richmond suburbs. The wins exceeded expectations of even Democratic leaders and boosted the party’s successful efforts to regain control of the House of Representatives — in a state that only a generation ago was reliably Republican.”

-- Carlos Curbelo, one of the few House Republicans willing to defy Trump, lost his reelection race in Florida. Alex Daugherty and Jimena Tavel report for the Miami Herald: “Debbie Mucarsel-Powell used a barrage of TV ads and a campaign focused on healthcare, Democrats’ single-most important issue, to defeat [Curbelo] … The [DCCC] spent just under $7.2 million, in addition to Mucarsel-Powell’s seven-figure war chest, to hammer Curbelo for his vote to repeal Obamacare. While other members similar to Curbelo chose to retire instead of face the prospect of losing, Curbelo dug in, spending millions of dollars of his own with the aid of outside groups who spent more than a year on the ground in South Florida. It wasn’t enough.”

-- Alaska Rep. Don Young, who has been in Congress since 1973, defeated Democratic challenger Alyse Galvin. Alaska Public Radio’s Liz Ruskin reports: “Young, the most senior member of Congress, grabbed 53 percent of the vote early in the evening and his lead held steady all night, climbing to 54 percent with four-fifths of the precincts reporting. … Galvin, assuming her loss holds, would meet the same fate that has met 20 Democratic nominees before her, stretching back to 1973.”

-- Before he secured reelection, GOP Rep. Steve King barred the Des Moines Register from his election night event, as his son — who also works for King’s campaign — called the newspaper a “leftist propaganda media outlet with no concern for reporting the truth.” The Des Moines Register’s Tony Leys reports: “Register Executive Editor Carol Hunter on Tuesday said she was disappointed by the campaign’s decision to bar the newspaper’s staff from his rally Tuesday evening. ‘The Des Moines Register will continue doing everything in its power to cover Rep. King fairly,’ she said. … King’s unusual move mirrors one [Trump] made in the summer of 2015, when Trump temporarily denied credentials to Register reporters and photographers to cover his campaign events.”

THE SENATE:

-- Republican Senate candidates outperformed expectations as they helped fortify a GOP majority. The Hill’s Jordain Carney reports: “[E]ven if Democrats win in Arizona, Montana and Mississippi, it won’t be enough to flip control of the Senate. The best possible outcome for Democrats would be a 52-48 Republican majority. … The GOP’s path to keeping, and even expanding, its Senate majority was aided mightily by a favorable map that saw Republicans defending nine seats compared to 26 for Democrats, 10 of which were in states won by Trump in 2016.”

-- Beto O’Rourke fell short in his bid to oust Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas, but the close result — O’Rourke came within three points of the Republican incumbent — appears to have carried other Democratic candidates across the finish line. Eli Rosenberg reports: “In Dallas, Democrat Colin Allred, a former National Football League player, unseated Republican Rep. Pete Sessions, a powerful House veteran who had represented the district since 2003. In Houston, Democrat Lizzie Pannill Fletcher held a narrow lead over Republican Rep. John Abney Culberson in a district the GOP had also held for decades. Along the border, Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones was making a surprisingly strong showing against Republican Rep. Will Hurd. And in the El Paso district O’Rourke represented, Democrat Veronica Escobar won with a commanding margin.”

-- Mississippi’s Senate race is headed to a runoff. Roll Call’s Simone Pathé reports: “Mississippi Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith failed to secure more than 50 percent of the vote on Tuesday night. That means the contest to fill the remainder of former Sen. Thad Cochran’s term will advance to a runoff later in the month. With 79 percent of precincts reporting, former Democratic Rep. Mike Espy led Hyde-Smith 40.8 to 40.7 percent. Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel trailed with 17 percent. Without McDaniel splitting the GOP vote, Hyde-Smith is expected to prevail in the runoff.”

-- Some Democratic incumbents, including Joe Donnelly and Claire McCaskill, were supposed to be in closer contests than materialized, NBC News’s Allan Smith notes. Michigan was closer than polls suggested, as well, even though Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow ultimately prevailed.

-- Republicans’ expanded Senate majority will give Mitch McConnell some breathing room as he pursues his agenda, particularly on judicial appointments. Politico’s Burgess Everett and Elana Schor report: “Despite dim prospects for legislative compromise on the immediate horizon with an incoming Democratic House, the Senate GOP’s romp Tuesday over at least three Democratic incumbents presages an easier two years for the Republican majority leader than he’s had for much of [Trump’s] presidency. McConnell can now focus even more intensely on the upper chamber’s bread and butter — what he calls the ‘personnel business’ — by confirming dozens more federal judges to lifetime appointments and keeping Trump’s Cabinet fully stocked.”

THE GOVERNORSHIPS:

-- Democrats flipped at least seven governorships, putting a serious dent in what was a record level of Republican control. Tim Craig reports: “Democrats flipped the governorships in Wisconsin, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Illinois, Nevada and New Mexico. The race remained too close to call in Georgia, where Democrat Stacey Abrams was running to become the first African American female governor. In Wisconsin, Democrat Tony Evers bested Gov. Scott Walker, once a Republican star who ran for president in 2016. Walker survived a hard-fought recall vote in 2012, and was reelected in 2014, only to be denied a third term by the state schools superintendent.”

-- Walker’s loss in Wisconsin ends an “eight-year reign of Republican dominance and political muscle,” the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Craig Gilbert reports. “On a night when Democrats retook the U.S. House and both parties piled up striking wins and equally striking losses, voters in Wisconsin turned the page on one of the nation's best-known and most polarizing governors. They did so by a very small margin, when a late tally of absentee ballots from Milwaukee County put the race out of reach for Walker. … The most arresting features of Evers' win and Walker's loss were massive Democratic landslides in Dane and Milwaukee counties, the two big blue bastions that delivered far higher margins for Democrats than they did four years earlier.”

-- But Walker has yet to concede. Annie Gowen reports:[As Evers declared victory,] [a]bout an hour away in a suburban Milwaukee hotel ballroom, Walker’s lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, told a restive — and bewildered crowd — that ‘the fight is not over…we are preparing for the likelihood of a recount here in the state of Wisconsin.’”

-- Two African American gubernatorial candidates — Democrats Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams — appeared to both fall short of making history. William Wan, Robert Samuels and Vanessa Williams report: “On a night when black and minority candidates had been poised to break long-standing barriers, the disappointments came despite massive fundraising efforts, national attention and a parade of black leaders and celebrities stumping on their behalf. The Gillum and Abrams races also drew blatant racial attacks rarely seen since the Civil Rights era of the 1960s. And GOP officials in several states, including Georgia, tried to impose restrictions on voters that some voting rights advocates said harked back to suppression tactics against blacks in the Jim Crow South. Other minority candidates, however, did claim historic outcomes.”

-- Democrat Jared Polis won his gubernatorial race in Colorado, becoming the nation’s first openly gay governor. Politico’s Michael Stratford reports: “Polis, a Democrat who has served in Congress since 2009, defeated Republican candidate Walter Stapleton, the state’s treasurer. He will succeed Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who was not eligible to run for re-election because of term limits. Polis is the second openly LGBT person to be elected as a governor, following Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who identifies as bisexual. Brown, a Democrat, became governor in 2015 and was re-elected in a 2016 special election. She was again on the ballot on Tuesday.”

-- As predicted, Republican Govs. Charlie Baker and Larry Hogan prevailed in their reliably blue states of Massachusetts and Maryland. Each of the GOP incumbents safely won reelection by double-digit margins. (AP)

BALLOT INITIATIVES:

-- At least five states are poised to expand Medicaid through both ballot measures and Democratic victories in governor’s races. The LA Times’s Noam N. Levey reports: “The most immediate coverage gains look likely to occur in Nebraska, Idaho and Utah, where ballot measures to expand Medicaid were comfortably ahead. But Medicaid expansion may also be on the way in Kansas, where Democrat Laura Kelly defeated a conservative Republican in the race for governor. The state’s GOP-controlled state Legislature had tried to expand the safety-net program under pressure from financially struggling hospitals in the state, but the expansion was blocked by former Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. A victory in Maine by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Janet Mills should clear the way for that state to finally expand Medicaid coverage as well.”

-- Three measures to expand access to marijuana passed, while one failed. Time magazine's Abby Vesoulis reports: “Michigan voted to approve a ballot measure, making it the first state in the Midwest to approve recreational usage for adults, joining nine other states and the District of Columbia. Additionally, Missouri approved medicinal marijuana measures and Utah looked likely, becoming the 32nd and 33rd respective states to do so. North Dakota’s ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana failed, however.”

-- Florida expanded voting rights to former felons, while three states passed initiatives to overhaul their redistricting processes. CNN’s Emanuella Grinberg reports: “Florida voters passed Amendment 4, which restores voting rights for felons after they complete their sentences, including parole or probation, except for those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense. The law is expected to give the right to vote to 1.5 million people. … [A] Colorado initiative will create a 12-member independent redistricting commission instead of having the state legislature draw district maps. Michigan's Proposition 2 establishes a 13-member redistricting commission and provides criteria for members and maps.” Missouri also approved a measure to hand over control of redistricting to a nonpartisan state demographer.

-- Ballot initiatives aimed at combating climate change largely fell short. Brady Dennis and Dino Grandoni report: “Voters in Arizona, one of the nation’s most sun-soaked states, shot down a measure that would have accelerated its shift toward generating electricity from sunlight. Residents in oil- and gas-rich Colorado defeated a measure to sharply limit drilling on state-owned land. Even in the solidly blue state of Washington, initial results were poor for perhaps the most consequential climate-related ballot measure in the country this fall: A statewide initiative that would have imposed a first-in-the-nation fee on emissions of carbon dioxide, the most prevalent of the greenhouse gases that drive global warming. The failure of the ballot measures underscores the difficulty of tackling a global problem like climate change policy at the local level[.]”

-- California voters rejected a proposal to repeal an increase in the state gas tax. The Sacramento Bee’s Alexei Koseff reports: “Proposition 6 trailed 55 percent to 45 percent as California election officials reported early returns on Tuesday night. The measure’s proponent, Carl DeMaio, accepted defeat around 10 p.m. Backed by the California Republican Party, which hoped it would boost Republican prospects in a tough election cycle, Proposition 6 faced well-funded opponents.”

SCENES FROM ELECTION DAY:

-- Customs and Border Protection canceled a planned crowd-control exercise near a Hispanic neighborhood in El Paso as the ACLU questioned the timing. Robert Moore reports: “CBP and Homeland Security officials rejected allegations that the training exercises had any relation to the election. But Terri Burke, executive director for the ACLU of Texas, said the timing of the crowd-control exercise was ‘suspicious’ and that she welcomed the decision to scrap it.”

-- Some Americans copied the tactics Russian trolls used in 2016 to spread misinformation before voters headed to the polls. From Craig Timberg and Tony Romm: “Such is the consensus among lawmakers, tech company officials and independent experts who study hate speech and related disinformation: Even as Silicon Valley has become more aggressive in battling foreign efforts to influence U.S. politics, it is losing innumerable cat-and-mouse games with Americans who are eagerly deploying the same techniques used by the Russians in 2016.”

-- A poll worker in Houston was relieved of her duties and charged with misdemeanor assault after bumping into a black voter and making a comment about “blackface.” Gabrielle Banks and Maya Miller report for the Houston Chronicle: “[Voter Rolanda] Anthony said she arrived at her polling location before 8 a.m. and was told by a poll worker that there was an issue with her address. She was told to fill out a residency verification form. Anthony, who is in her early 40s, asked the woman why she needed to fill out the form since her address in the system appeared to match her ID perfectly. Before the poll worker could respond, Anthony said, Juanita Barnes, an alternate election judge, moved close to Anthony and began yelling that she had broken the law by not updating her ID. … Barnes, who is white, then told Anthony, who is black, ‘Maybe if I'd worn my blackface makeup today you could comprehend what I'm saying to you,’ according to Anthony and a witness.”

-- An 83-year-old Wisconsin man walked to the polls after a deer totaled his car. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Annysa Johnson reports: “At 83, John Pinter has had to give up a few things. Competitive polka dancing, for one. But he is not about to give up his right to vote, even if he has to hoof it to the polls. And that's what happened Tuesday. On Monday night, the Cedarburg man hit a deer, totaling his car on his way home from a business trip. So, on Election Day, he could be seen cane-in-hand walking nearly a mile from his apartment building to the Community Center Gym to cast his votes.”

-- Maria Valles Vda De Bonilla, a 106-year-old woman who moved to the United States from El Salvador 16 years ago, became a U.S. citizen on Election Day. Allison Klein reports: “She wanted to be able to vote in the adopted country she loves, something she was never able to do in El Salvador — first because it wasn’t legal for women to vote, and later because the polling locations were too far away and the journey was unsafe. … Bonilla — who lives in Gainesville with her daughter, grandchildren and great-grandchildren — is not registered to vote in Virginia, so she didn’t get to cast a ballot vote in the midterm elections after her ceremony. But when you become a citizen at age 106, you’re an optimist.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Trump congratulated Republicans as results showed Democrats flipping the House and keeping the Senate:

He also quoted conservative economist and actor Ben Stein, who described the president as a “magic man”:

Trump added that he has received congratulatory calls from world leaders:

And he offered specific congratulations to Florida’s governor-elect, who ran as a Trump acolyte:

He then criticized any of his critics who lost their races:

Trump called to congratulate the next likely House speaker:

Mitch McConnell's team celebrated the Senate results:

The vice president congratulated his brother on winning his old House seat:

A Republican senator took a victory lap with the results in his home state:

From a writer for The Economist:

A New York Times reporter has this poetic take on the results:

Mitt Romney made history:

An investigative reporter in New Jersey noticed a surprising face at Sen. Bob Menendez's election party:

A well-known name lost her local race:

A Post reporter highlighted one Democrat poised to take control of a House committee:

A writer for New York magazine commented on the passage of Amendment 4 in Florida, restoring voting rights to former felons:

Some Texas voters complained about their polling station, per a CNN reporter:

Fox News criticized two hosts' participation in a Trump rally as a “distraction”:

A Post reporter shared the perspective of some national security officials:

One famous former national security official gave an Election Day update:

A field director for Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) posted a photo of Comey at their office. Kaine's communications director, who worked on Hillary Clinton's campaign, shared it:

Lauren Kennedy, who is married to Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.), showed her support for several Democratic candidates:

Beyoncé, a Houston native, also expressed support for O'Rourke:

A Chicago brewery became a polling station:

A Post reporter passed on an update about the number of young voters in his district:

And an Atlantic writer explained to his daughter the importance of voting:

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“Brian Kemp, criticized for overseeing Georgia election, runs into trouble casting vote,” from USA Today: “Kemp was one of the state's voters who ran into a technical issue when voting Tuesday. Kemp found his voter card was “invalid” when he attempted to vote at a Winterville polling location, WSB-TV‏ reports. Kemp returned the card to a poll worker, received a working card and was able to cast his vote, WXIA-TV news reports. The issue delayed Kemp from voting for less than a minute, Charlotte Sosebee, Director of Elections for Athens-Clarke County told USA TODAY. Kemp has come under fire for serving as Secretary of State, the office that oversees Georgia elections, as he ran for governor.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“Dan Crenshaw, ex-Navy SEAL mocked by SNL comic, wins House seat,” from CBS affiliate KHOU: “An ex-Navy SEAL has been elected to the U.S. House three days after ‘Saturday Night Live’ mocked the eye patch he wears because he was badly wounded in combat. Republican Dan Crenshaw defeated Democrat Todd Litton on Tuesday to represent a vacant Houston-area district. Crenshaw lost his right eye in a battlefield explosion. Comic Pete Davidson joked on Saturday that his eye patch made him look like a ‘hit man in a porno movie,’ The joke drew widespread condemnation and attention to Crenshaw’s campaign.”

 

DAYBOOK:

Trump has no events on his public schedule today.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“Tonight history has repeated itself. A party in power always faces tough odds in its first midterm election. It is always hard to see friends and good colleagues work so hard and fall short. Yet I’m proud of the campaign that our members and candidates ran in a challenging political environment. I congratulate Democrats on a new House majority and Senate Republicans for maintaining theirs.” — Paul Ryan. (CNN)

 

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

-- Washingtonians can expect a partly sunny and overall pleasant day. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Partly sunny skies and light winds from the west-southwest combine for a very pleasant fall day. Temperatures start out near 50 early this morning, topping out in the low to mid-60s this afternoon.”

-- The Wizards lost to the Mavericks 119-100. (Candace Buckner)

-- The Nationals made Bryce Harper “an aggressive offer” that he did not accept. Chelsea Janes reports: “That offer included no opt-outs, and was less than the $400 million some have speculated Harper could receive, according to [a source].”

-- Democrat Muriel Bowser became the first D.C. mayor to win reelection since 2002, while council member Elissa Silverman fended off a Bowser-backed challenger. Peter Jamison, Fenit Nirappil and Tyler Blint-Welsh report: “Bowser had thrown her own political clout and donor network behind [Dionne] Reeder, a business executive and third-generation Washingtonian who had campaigned in relative obscurity before the mayor endorsed her in September. But Silverman — a first-term council member who has advanced progressive legislation while frequently clashing with the mayor and the D.C. business establishment — comfortably survived that onslaught. Incumbent Democrat Anita Bonds captured the second of the two at-large council seats on the ballot.”

-- Virginia officials have discussed the possibility of splitting Amazon’s new headquarters with some of the company’s senior executives. From Jonathan O'Connell and Robert McCartney: “Virginia officials are prepared to make an announcement soon, once Amazon makes its final decision, according to people close to the talks.”

-- Four Maryland high school football players were sexually assaulted last week as part of a hazing ritual, according to allegations detailed in a police report. The suspects, members of the junior varsity squad, allegedly attacked teammates using a broomstick. (Dan Morse and Donna St. George)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Stephen Colbert taped a live episode of “The Late Show” to capture the results of the election — and celebrated Democratic victories:

Seth Meyers described the results as a “blue ripple”:

Ilhan Omar, who will become the first Somali American congresswoman, addressed her supporters:

Voters in Los Angeles County flocked to a polling location that allowed for same-day registration:

Footage captured tornadoes ripping through Louisiana: