2014 US midterm elections: Live Report
WASHINGTON - 01:35 GMT - Odds improve - Statistician and policial seer Nate Silver tweets that the odds of the Republican party, dubbed the GOP, taking control of the Senate surge with Cotton's win.
01:28 GMT - Republican pickup - First term Congressman Tom Cotton, only 37 years old, defeats incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor to take another Senate seat for the Republicans.
01:19 GMT - Virginia surprise? - Pundits seem surprised that the Virginia Senate battle between former governor and incumbent Senator (and oft-floated vice presidential pick) Mark Warner and former Republican party operative Ed Gillespie is so competitive. Early results have insurgent Gillespie up 52 to 45, even with a Libertarian candidate in the mix, likely taking votes from Gillespie.
01:10 GMT - New Hampshire - As the polls close in New Hampshire, the battle between incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Scott Brown is too close to call.
If Brown's name sounds familiar it is because, in 2010, he famously stunned Massachusetts Democrats by winning the Senate seat the late Edward Kennedy had held for almost 50 years. Brown lost reelection and is now trying to find a new way into the Senate from neighboring New Hampshire.
01:04 GMT - Republicans keep House - As expected, the Republicans are projected to keep control of the US House of Representatives. The Senate remains in play.
00:57 GMT - Turnout - Turnout is famously low for US midterm elections. In 2010, a paltry 37.8% of eligible voters went to the polls, compared to the still low 53.6% who voted in 2012.
But candidates are trying to eke out every vote they can muster. Democrat Kay Hagan, who is trying to win a Senate seat in North Carolina against Republican Thom Tillis, urged her supporters to endure any lines.
"If you're in line to vote at 7:30 PM today, you will be allowed to vote. Every vote counts, so stay in line: "
00:50 GMT - Kentucky love - Fellow Kentucky senator and much-rumored Republican presidential hopeful for 2016, Rand Paul, tweets his pleasure at McConnell's win.
"A big congratulations to @Team_Mitch on a decisive victory tonight! #kysen"
00:46 GMT - Extended hours? - NPR and CNN both report that Charlie Crist, Florida's Democratic nominee for governor, has filed an emergency motion seeking to extend hours in Broward County, citing “systemic breakdowns.”
00:39 GMT - The big batch - A new hour will bring the biggest batch of poll closings. Voting will end in Alabama, Delaware, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Polls will also close in most of Kansas, Michigan, New Hampshire and Texas and some of South Dakota, as well. Expect results to come in fast and furious, although most of the states are not home to hotly watched seats.
00:31 GMT - Republican pickup - Multiple US media outlets predict that the Republicans have picked up their first seat of the night, with Shelley Moore Capito handily beating Democrat Natalie Tennant.
00:27 GMT - More closings - Polls close in North Carolina, West Virginia and Ohio.
00:15 GMT - Senate control - While McConnell is surely pleased to have fought off Grimes, the big prize, the coveted position of Senate Majority Leader, will not be decided for hours. It is possible, if unlikely, that we won't know for months. The spot wields significant power, setting the agenda for the upper chamber, including deciding what bills come up for a vote.
Current Majority Leader Harry Reid is not up for reelection, but he stands to lose his standing, or even any leadership role, if his party gives up control.
00:06 GMT - Too close to call? - As expected in competitive Georgia, both CNN and CBS say the races for Senate and governor are too close to call.
00:03 GMT - McConnell WINS - US media project Mitch McConnell retains his Senate seat, fighting off an insurgent Alison Grimes.
00:00 GMT - Polls close - Polls close in Georgia, the rest of Kentucky and some of New Hampshire.
23:48 GMT - Georgia - But readers hoping for results in Georgia in the first few minutes might not want to hold their breath. Unless one candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, the state requires a runoff between the top two vote earners. That means results for both the governor and Senate could be delayed until December, or even January.
The Republican Senate candidate David Perdue is ahead in polls against Democrat Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former senator Sam Nunn, but if Libertarian Amanda Swafford sneaks off with enough votes to keep him from a majority, the two top candidates will meet again on January 6, after the new Congress is sworn in.
23:43 GMT - Countdown clocks - The TV news networks are all counting down the minutes until the first big batch of exit polls can be announced, at 0000 GMT, when the polls close in many East Coast states, including battlegrounds Kentucky and Georgia. Polls will close in parts of New Hampshire, too.
23:31 GMT - Kanye - The vote draws the attention of politicians and celebrities alike. US rapper, and Kim Kardashian spouse, Kanye West, tweeted his support for the Democratic ticket. "The midterms are extremely important," he says. One minute later he adds, "I know it’s last minute, but if you haven’t voted, please vote today."
23:23 GMT - Kentucky - Mitch McConnell has served in the Senate since 1985 and as Minority Leader since 2007. He has a natural advantage as the incumbent, but has been susceptible to charges he is too close to Washington and too far from his Kentucky roots. The polls showed his battle with Grimes surprisingly close, but she took a hit for seeming scripted on the campaign trail. Very, very early results are showing McConnell with a big lead, but it is much too soon to draw any conclusions.
23:11 GMT - First polls close - Polls close in parts of Indiana and Kentucky, which is home to one of tonight's closely watched Senate seats. Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who desperately hopes to become Majority Leader, first must fight to hold onto his seat. He is facing a respectable challenge from Alison Grimes, a young Democrat who he has worked hard to tie to the unpopular President Barack Obama.
23:00 GMT - WELCOME to AFP's Live Report on the US elections - All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for a vote, but only 36 of the 100 Senate seats. A full 36 of the 50 states are voting for governor.
But all these numbers really come down to 10. That is the number of competitive Senate races that are in play and may flip from one party to the other. If the Republicans gain six seats, they will gain control of the upper chamber and have the chance to set the political tone for the next two years.
Today's vote is called a "midterm" because it comes in the middle of a four-year presidential term. Historically, the results are bad for the president's party. After his Democrats lost a staggering 63 seats in the House of Representatives to the Republicans in 2010 Obama famously called the shift a "shellacking."
The night is set to be a long one. The polls began closing on the East Coast at 2300 GMT, but battleground Alaska won't close until 0500 GMT Wednesday. And even then, some ballots from remote regions won't be counted until they arrive in the capital, by seaplane.