Education, Senate News, White House 2016

Sen. Sanders: Free college for all

Independent senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders proposed a massive bill yesterday that would make tuition at colleges and universities across the United States free for students to attend.

According to the post announcing the legislation on Sen. Sanders’ official website, schools would not charge tuition as the cost would be paid for by both the federal and state governments (two-thirds by the federal, one-third for state). In addition, the legislation would create an increase work-study programs, ban the federal government from making a profit on loans, and would create incentives to encourage colleges to bring down costs. The total cost of such legislation would be upwards of $700 billion over the next decade.

On his website, Sen. Sanders argued that if the U.S. economy is to remain competitive in the global market, then a college education should not leave graduates buried in debt and should be something readily available to all who wish to attend.

Sen. Sanders also pointed out that other modern countries have surpassed the United States in the number of college graduates they produce and the quality of the education those students receive.

“We once led the world in the percentage of our people with a college degree, now we are in 12th place. Countries like Germany, Denmark, Sweden and many more are providing free or inexpensive higher education for their young people.  They understand how important it is to be investing in their youth. We should be doing the same.”

The Vermont senator went on a media offensive yesterday to try to gather support for the bill. Among other things, Sen. Sanders appeared on MSNBC to promote the legislation, held a press conference with student organizations and recent college graduates, and peppered his social media account and website with various quotes and statistics about the rising cost of higher education.  Below is a taste of some of the senator’s social media blitz

In order to pay for the huge price tag, a tax on Wall Street transactions by hedge funds and the like would be created. With a Republican-controlled Congress currently in power, it would appear that the legislation to begin with would never pass in its current form. With a tax on Wall Street, the bill’s already slim chances are virtually non-existent.

Elections, White House 2016

Lindsey Graham joins crowded Republican presidential field

Another day, another Republican presidential candidate enters the field.

Longtime South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham announced Monday on “CBS This Morning” that he will look to receive the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

During his appearance, Sen. Graham said he decided to make a run for the White House because “…I think the world is falling apart and I’ve been more right than wrong on foreign policy.” Below is more from Graham’s interview on CBS.

Out of the now seven candidates in the growing Republican field, the 59-year-old has the most Washington experience on his resume.  In his third term in the United States Senate, Graham has made waves as a strong opponent of President Obama, particularly of his foreign policy decisions. However, the senator has expressed support of the president’s amnesty program that would allow millions of undocumented immigrants to have Social Security numbers and work permits.

While Graham has a strong conservative record on the whole, far-right Tea Party politicians (such as fellow senators and presidential candidates Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky)  and supporters have bashed established Senate Republicans like Graham and John McCain (R-Arizona) for being too moderate on issues such as Second Amendment rights.

Earlier this year, Graham had strong words for Sen. Cruz after the Texas senator wrote in a fundraising email that the Second Amendment is the “ultimate check against government tyranny.” Speaking to TalkingPointsMemo.com, Graham argued  that “an informed electorate is probably a better check than, you know, guns in the streets.” Graham also told TPM the following:

“I think the Second Amendment allows people to protect their homes and their property and be secure in their persons,” the senator said. “I think in a democracy the best check on government is voter participation. I think the First Amendment probably protects us more there.”

Sen. McCain, who is a good friend of Graham’s, has previously stated his belief that Graham would be the most qualified presidential candidate in the 2016 race. “Lindsey Graham. First, last and always,” said McCain.

 

Elections, White House 2016

Cruz announces presidential bid

The Grand Old Party has a brand new presidential candidate.

After reports surfaced late Sunday night that he would enter the race, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) officially launched his presidential campaign at a rally Monday morning in Virginia (the video of his speech can be seen above).

In his address, Sen. Cruz made an impassioned case for his mission aimed directly at the most conservative voters and members of the Republican party. The one-term senator said a potential Cruz administration, among other things, would seek a repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the elimination of the IRS. Sen. Cruz also made his case that citizens need “to reclaim the Constitution of the United States” and encouraged conservative voters to “[rise] up and re-ignite the promise of America.”

(Photo by Getty Images)
(Photo by Getty Images)

In a nod to the conservative Christian/Evangelical sects of the party, Sen. Cruz also alluded to his desire to see pro-abortion and gay marriage laws scaled back. Cruz called for a defense of “the sanctity of human life and…the sanctity of marriage.” In the past, the senator has supported the Defense of Marriage Act and believes states should have the power to regulate if they want to allow abortions and to what extent.

The Texas senator has generated much controversy and anger from those on the left and even in his own party for his hardline conservative positions. Some on Capitol Hill have yet to forgive Sen. Cruz for his role in bring about a shutdown of the federal government two years ago, in which Cruz and other freshman Republican senators refused to fund the government without the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

(Editorial Note: THAB [yes, trying out this abbreviation of “To Hill and Back” for a bit] was actually in the middle of writing a piece on a potential Cruz campaign for the “Race to 45” series on presidential candidates. So expect that article, which will be more in-depth, on Sen. Cruz and other potential candidates in the coming days/weeks. Stay tuned.)

Analysis, Elections, White House 2016

Race to #45: Hillary Clinton

Ready for Hillary? (Photo by Gary Cameron of Reuters; photo from MSNBC.com)
Ready for Hillary? (Photo by Gary Cameron of Reuters; photo from MSNBC.com)

On Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, someone will raise their right hand, place their left hand on a Bible, and promise to uphold the Constitution as long as he or she serves as the 45th President of the United States. We obviously still have a long way to go before that moment happens, but potential players from both major parties are already starting to lay down foundations for possible runs to the White House. This series will profile some of those possible candidates and attempt to sift through the facts, fiction, and bias to show where each candidate really stands on the issues that matter to you- the citizen and voter- the most.

The first installment will discuss the person widely assumed (remember what happens when you assume?) to be the front-runner for the Democratic nomination- Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Biography: Born Oct. 26, 1947 in Chicago, Ill.; Oldest of three children; married William Jefferson Clinton in 1975; Gave birth to the couple’s only daughter, Chelsea, in 1980; Became a grandmother in 2014

Education: Graduated in 1969 from Wellesley College; Graduate of Yale Law School, Class of 1973

Political Resume: Worked on George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign; Served on the team that advised the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate hearings in 1974; Worked for Jimmy Carter’s successful presidential bid in 1976; First Lady of Arkansas (1979-81, 1983-1992); First Lady of the United States (1993-2001); Led the 1993 Task Force on National Health Reform for President Clinton; Served as U.S. Senator from New York from 2000-2009; Selected by President Obama to be U.S. Secretary of State (2009-2013)

Where She Stands On: 

  • The economy/free trade
    • December 2007 debate (on if she would prioritize passing a balances federal budget each year): “Well, fiscal responsibility is a very high priority for me. We don’t have to go back very far in our history, in fact just to the 1990s, to see what happens when we do have a fiscally responsible budget that does use rules of discipline to make sure that we’re not cutting taxes or spending more than we can afford. I will institute those very same approaches. You can’t do it in a year. It’ll take time. But the economy will grow again when we start acting fiscally responsible. And then we can save money in the government by cutting out private contractors, closing loopholes, getting the health care system to be more efficient. We’ll do all of this at the same time, but the results will take awhile for us to actually see. “
    • January 2008 debate: “I regretted voting for the bankruptcy bill and I was happy that it didn’t get into law. By 2005, there was another run at a bankruptcy reform, motivated by the credit card companies and the other big lenders. I opposed that bill. There was a particular amendment that is very telling. It was an amendment to prohibit credit card companies from charging more than 30% interest. It was one of the biggest lobbyist victories on that very bad bill that the bankruptcy bill represented.”
  • Environment/energy
    • December 2007 debate: “I advocate a cap and trade system. What the auction of pollution permits is taking that money and invest in new technologies, new ways of getting to our objectives that I’ve outline inside my energy plan. I want to use some of it to cushion the costs tha will come on to the US consumer. It’s not just enough to tackle global warming, we’ve got to enlist the help of the next generation. My fifth grade teacher said it was to study math and science, but it gave me an idea of contributing to my country.”
  • Foreign policy
    • 2013 New York Magazine interview: “I thought it was essential that as we restore America’s standing in the world and strengthen our global leadership again, we needed what I took to calling ‘smart power’ to elevate American diplomacy and development and reposition them for the 21st century. That meant that we had to take a hard look at how both State and A.I.D. operated. I did work to increase their funding after a very difficult period when they were political footballs to some extent and they didn’t have the resources to do what was demanded of them.”
  • Immigration
    • From her 2014 book Hard Choices: “In 2009, more than 55 million Americans were immigrants or the children of immigrants. These first- or second-generation Americans were valuable links back tot heir home countries and also significant contributors to our own country’s economic, cultural, and political life. Immigration helped keep the US population young and dynamic at a time when many of our partners and competitors were aging. Russia, in particular, faced what President Putin himself has called a ‘demographic crisis.’ Even China, because of its ‘One Child Policy,’ was headed toward a demographic cliff. I only wish that the bipartisan bill passed the Senate in 2013 reforming our immigration laws could pass the House.”
    • According to OnTheIssues.org, then-Senator Clinton voted in 2006 to allow illegal immigrants to participate in Social Security and other social services, as well as to build a fence alongside the Mexican border.
  • Gun control
    • Wall Street Journal, May 2014: “”We’ve got to rein in what has become an almost article of faith that anybody can have a gun anywhere, anytime,” she said. “And I don’t believe that is in the best interest of the vast majority of people.”
    • April 2008 debate: “I respect the Second Amendment. I respect the rights of lawful gun owners to own guns, to use their guns, but I also believe that most lawful gun owners whom I have spoken with for many years across our country also want to be sure that we keep those guns out of the wrong hands.”

What Supporters Say: People who have supported Clinton in the past say her resiliency would make her a strong president, often pointing to the way she publicly handled the Monica Lewinsky scandal in the late 1990s. Other supporters say she has a leg up in reaching middle-income families when talking about the economy. The fact that she is a woman also seems to play a big factor in reasons why at least some people support her. Take a look at this March 2014 Gallup poll, which asked people what would be the best thing about Hillary Clinton occupying the Oval Office:

(Image from Gallup.com)
(Image from Gallup.com)

What Opponents Say: The area Clinton will likely be hit the hardest on (if she chooses to run) will be on foreign policy. She was the head of the state department during the deadly attack on the American embassy in Benghazi in 2012, and conservatives have routinely hit her hard on that security failure whenever an opportunity to do so presents itself. No matter what the actual facts are with Benghazi, Clinton and her team will surely spend much of their time addressing attacks and questions from the right relating to the matter. Her comments on her personal finances also seem like a sure bet to be brought up by Republicans as a way to portray her as out-of-touch with the needs and wants of average Americans.

Fundraising Ability: Democratic donors are apparently already lining up to give millions of dollars to a Clinton campaign. On the amount of money reportedly set to be given once the operation is a go, one donor was quoted as saying “it’s going to be like nothing you’ve seen.” If the past is any indication, Clinton would appear to have the support to back up such a lofty prediction. According to OpenSecrets.com (which tracks things such as political spending, re-election rates, voting numbers, etc.), then-Senator Clinton raised nearly $230 million by the end of May 2008 in her effort to secure the Democratic nomination for president. In spite of the lofty total, Clinton was left with over $20 million in debts after she left the race in June. Check out the table below, which shows how her fundraising efforts couldn’t keep up with what the campaign was spending over the last four quarters of the campaign (again, the table and stats are from OpenSecrets.org):

hillary funds

Likeliness of becoming party nominee: 75%*. This is assuming she runs (thus the asterisk). These odds are based more on a gut feeling rather than any complicated formula. Obviously a lot of unforeseen issues or scenarios can arise between now and primary season. It seemed everyone thought she would be the nominee in 2008, but then Barack Obama popped up from seemingly nowhere to claim the nomination. She seems to be the favorite for the Democrats right now, but that could change based on her performance and if she corrects her mistakes from 2008, as well as if other seemingly strong challengers such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Vice President Biden, and others enter the fight.

(Writer’s Note: I have to say a big thank you to OnTheIssues.org, which tracks the positions and stances of American politicians. The site was a great help to me in writing this, especially with the quotes on various topics. I strongly recommend visiting the site to get a more in-depth look at the voting records and positions of politicians across a large variety of topics.)

Elections, Senate News

McConnell Elected Majority Leader; Reid Faces Opposition

McConnell (left) and Reid (Photo by Drew Angerer of Getty Images)
McConnell (left) and Reid (Photo by Drew Angerer of Getty Images)

The year 2014 just keeps getting better and better for Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Following a resounding re-election to the Senate earlier this month, the longtime Kentucky senator has now been unanimously elected as the Senate’s next majority leader, according to Roll Call. McConnell had been the Senate minority leader since 2007.

On Election Night, CNN reported that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) stated at the time that he would not automatically throw his support behind McConnell as majority leader if Republicans were able to take control of the Senate  away from Democrats. According to Roll Call, no Republican senator seriously challenged McConnell, who is the fourth most senior senator amongst Republicans.

On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) is facing a slight challenge as he looks to become the Senate’s minority leader after spending the pass seven years as majority leader. According to Politico, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) has said she will not vote for Sen. Reid as minority leader, saying that a change in leadership is necessary because “it’s a matter of sending a message to the American people that we need to change things.”

The Politico article goes on to say that other Democratic senators in other so-called “red states”(such as North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Manchin of West Virginia) have indicated that they would also not back Sen. Reid.

If Sen. Reid were to lose his leadership position, Democratic senators who could take his place include Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, who is currently chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, and current Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

Analysis, Elections, Senate News

Election 2014 Wrap Up- The Winners

Sen. McConnell (Photo by John Summers II of Reuters)
Sen. McConnell (Photo by John Summers II of Reuters)

Rejoice! The political ads are over! (Except in Louisiana. Our prayers are with the citizens of that state who have to deal with more ads as the Senate election there heads to a December runoff). Just as quickly as it came, Election 2014 is now history. And in many ways, this election year made quite a bit of history.

So who were the winners? The losers? How will the new Congress work with President Obama over his last two years, if at all? And how does this all affect the 2016 presidential race? We’ll attempt to answer all of these questions over the next few days with a series of “Election 2014 Wrap Up” posts.

First up in the series- the winners from Nov. 4. Drum roll please.

Winner #1) Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ)

No, Gov. Christie didn’t actually win an election for himself in 2014. But as chairman of the Republican Governors Association (RGA), the two-term New Jersey governor definitely had a successful night. In states where Christie campaigned significantly for Republican incumbent governors or challengers, the only significant losses Christie suffered were in New Hampshire (Maggie Hassan held onto the governorship there) and Connecticut (where Gov. Malloy is the apparent winner after a long night of vote counting). Republicans were able to flip three states previously held by Democrats (Asa Hutchinson in Arkansas, Bruce Rauner in Illinois, and Charles Baker in Massachusetts). And out of the 19  Republican governors up for re-election across the country, 17  held onto their seats. The only losses were in Pennsylvania (where Tom Wolf (D) upset incumbent Tom Corbett) and Alaska (incumbent Sean Parnell lost to Bill Walker, an independent).

So not only did Christie help other Republicans get elected, he also has set himself up to be a strong contender in the 2016 presidential race should he decide to run. He won a second-term in a typically blue state in 2013, has shown he can raise funds and votes in various locations across the country, and has made several important alliances with Republicans across the country. He had a lot of support from outside conservative organizations, political action committee (PAC) heads, and politicians across the country in 2012 when he ultimately decided he was not ready to run for president. That could be a different story in 2016.

Winner #2) Senate Republicans

This is an obvious one. Republicans running for the U.S. Senate in were able to officially flip seven seats, giving the GOP 52-45 edge as of this writing. Republicans could actually end up gaining at least three more seats, as the Alaska Senate race has yet to be officially called (the NY Times has incumbent Democrat Mark Begich trailing Republican Dan Sullivan by 4%) and Louisiana’s Senate race will be decided in a runoff next month between Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) and Bill Cassidy (R). A third seat could be gained if Maine’s independent senator, Angus King, decided to caucus with the Republicans now that the party is in the majority. King had previously caucused with the Democrats. So by the time the new Congress takes office in late January, Republicans could hold a ten-seat majority in the Senate to go along with a majority of at least 65 in the House (some 14 races have still yet to officially be decided in the House, according to the NY Times).

Winner #3) Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Sen. McConnell came out on top after a often negative race for his Kentucky Senate seat against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes. As long as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) doesn’t throw a wrench a into those plans, expect McConnell to become the Senate majority leader for the first time after spending eight years as the minority leader. After spending that time complaining of inaction on the part of Democrats in the White House and Senate (specifically now-former majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada), McConnell will get to dictate what issues make it to the Senate floor and now has more leverage in negotiations with President Obama on a wide array of those issues (i.e. immigration reform, tax reform, etc.)

Tomorrow, we will look at the losers of Election 2014, followed soon after by what issues the new Congress could take up in 2015.

Elections, House News, Senate News

Election Day 2014 Live Blog

(Atheron, CA election graphic)
(Atheron, CA election graphic)

Election Day 2014 is finally here. After months of negative (and sometimes whacky) commercials, inflames rhetoric, and countless polls, voters are heading to their local voting locations to decide which party will lead the U.S. Senate (and ultimately Congress itself) over the final two years of President Obama’s presidency.

Here at To Hill and Back, we will provide constant updates of every Senate race, important/surprising House results, and results for various races for governor as polls close throughout the country. The most recent updates will be found near the beginning of the live blog. We will also be live tweeting throughout the night, so be sure to visit @ToHillAndBack on Twitter.

And away we go:

12:29 a.m.

And this will wrap up To Hill and Back’s coverage of Election Night 2014. A quick wrap up:

-With Republicans now in control of both chambers of Congress, one could say it has been a great night for the Republican Party. The party could still pick up two more seats, depending on what happens in Alaska and what happens in the runoff that will occur in the state of Louisiana.

-Meanwhile, an interesting tidbit to pass along: According to CNN, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) will not yet commit to voting for re-elected Sen. Mitch McConnell as the Senate Majority Leader (he is currently the minority leader). Will other Republican senators follow suit? It surely will be interesting to watch.

-Now that the mid-terms are essentially over, the countdown to the presidential primaries has unofficially begun (because of course we have to look ahead). The pool of potential candidates looks like it’ll be an exciting bunch if names such as Cruz, Chris Christie, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and others jump into the race.

12:15 a.m.

Not much has been said about the House of Representatives tonight (now this morning), so here is a quick update on the House on Election Night:

-According to the NY Times, Republicans have won 227 House seats, while Democrats have won 149 seats, with 59 seats still undecided.

-Republicans have gained a total of nine seats in the House so far, so in addition to gaining control of the Senate, the party has strengthened its hold on the House.

11:55 p.m.

Coming up on midnight, polls will close in Alaska, where incumbent Mark Begich (D) will try to hold onto his Senate seat against challenger Dan Sullivan.

With Republicans gaining control of the Senate with 52 seats overall (so far), let’s look at seats the Democrats have held onto:

-Al Franken holds onto his seat in Minnesota over Mike McFadden by 13 points.

-In New Mexico, Tom Udall, the incumbent Democrat, defeated Allen Weh by nine points.

-Jeff Merkley, an incumbent, defeated Monica Wehby by a large margin (54%-38%).

-In Hawaii, Brian Schatz will return to the Senate after defeating Cam Cavasso.

11:31 p.m.

And just like that, NBC News has just called the Iowa Senate race for Republican Joni Ernst over Democrat Bruce Braley. 52 for Republicans.

11:30 p.m.

According to RollCall.com, Thom Tillis (R) has defeated Sen. Kay Hagan (D). The win by Tillis officially gives control of the U.S. Senate to the Republicans (51st seat). There are still four more Senate seats yet to be decided.

11:20 p.m.

Here are some updates on races for governors:

-Jerry Brown (D) has won another term in California

-Rick Scott (R) appears to have held on to win another term as Florida’s governor by just under two percentage points.

-Susana Martinez (R) has won re-election as New Mexico’s governor.

-Greg Abbot (R) defeated Democrat Wendy Davis in Texas.

-Republican Scott Walker was re-elected as Wisconsin’s governor over Mary Burke (D).

-Dan Malloy (D) is trailing by about two points to Republican challenger Tom Foley in Connecticut.

11 p.m.

It is now 11 p.m. EST and we have four more states that are closing its polls as Republicans remain one seat away from taking control of the U.S. Senate. Polls in California, Hawaii, and Oregon have now closed.

Pat Roberts (R) is projected to hang onto his Senate seat, defeating Independent Greg Orman.

MSNBC, meanwhile, is reporting that Scott Brown has not yet conceded the race for New Hampshire’s Senate seat to incumbent Jeanne Shaheen and ask for a recount if numbers remain close.

10:40 p.m.

Republicans have now gained two more Senate seats. In Colorado, Cory Gardner is projected to defeat incumbent Mark Udall (D) and in Montana, Steve Daines has been elected to the Senate after a winning the open seat there.

Republicans have now gained five seats total and need to turn one more from Democrat-to-Republican to win control of the Senate.

Meanwhile, Democrat Mark Warner in Virginia looks like he will keep his Senate seat, as the NYT returns show that Warner has grabbed a late lead over challenger Ed Gillespie (R). With a deficit of about 2,500 votes right now, Gillespie and Republicans could demand a recount.

10:18 p.m.

Virginia and North Carolina’s Senate races are both about as tight as a race can get. In Virginia, Ed Gillespie is up by 0.3% of the vote over Democrat incumbent Mark Warner (48.8% to 48.5%). In North Carolina, Kay Hagan (D) is trailing Republican challenger Thom Tillis 48.9% to 47.5% with 72% of the vote accounted for.

In Kansas, Sen. Pat Roberts (R) leads Greg Orman (I) 49.8% to 45.8%.

10 p.m. EST

Some more poll closings as the clock hits 10 on the east, as Iowa, Montana, Nevada, and Utah are now starting to count votes. Iowa is the big Senate race to pay attention in this batch of closings.

9:39

Here are some updates on the closer Senate races:

-With 40% of the vote in in North Carolina, incumbent Kay Hagan (D) is leading Thom Tillis (R) 49%-47%.

-In Kansas, Independent Greg Orman is clinging to a 48%-47% lead over Sen. Pat Roberts (R).

-With 90% of the vote in, Ed Gillespie (R) is leading Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Warner 49%-48% in Virginia.

-Cory Gardner (R) is leading incumbent Sen. Mark Udall (D) 52%-43% in Colorado’s Senate race.

-In Louisiana, Bill Cassidy (R) is leading Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) 44%-41% with 2% of the vote in. ALong with Georgia, this is one of the races that could go to a runoff if neither candidate hits 50% of the vote. The runoff would be December.

9:25

Boy, the things that happen when you take a 15 minute bathroom and snack break…Many things to catch everyone up on so here we go:

Here are the states whose polls closed after 9 p.m. EST: Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, New Mexico, parts of North Dakota, half of South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

And for some results:

-Incumbent Governors Re-Elected after polls closed at 9 p.m. EST: Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), Dennis Daugaard (R-SD), Mary Fallin (R-OK)

-Incumbent Senators Re-Elected after polls closed at 9 p.m. EST: John Cornyn (R-TX), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Chris Coons (D-Del.)

8:45

Back to the governors races: NBC News is projecting the winner of the New Hampshire governors races to be incumbent Maggie Hassan (D). She currently leads Republican challenger Walt Havenstein 55%-44%.

In Connecticut, incumbent Gov. Dan Malloy (D) is currently leading Republican challenger Tom Foley 56%-42% with 2% reporting. Malloy defeated Foley in a very tight governors race in 2010, and the two were locked in a virtual tie in the weeks heading up to the election.

8:35

In the Kansas Senate race, Independent Greg Orman has an early 3% lead (50%-47%) over Republican incumbent Pat Roberts. If Orman holds on for the win, it is unclear which party he will caucus with in Congress.

In Arkansas, NBC News is projecting that Tom Cotton will defeat incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor for that state’s Senate seat. This brings the total number of seats won by Republicans to nine, and a net gain of two.

8:19

A couple governors races to update everyone on. Incumbent Republicans Robert Bentley (Alabama) and Bill Haslam (Tennessee) have won re-election, while in Florida, another incumbent Republican (Rick Scott) is now leading Charlie Crist (D) 48%-47%.

8:14

Republicans have held onto Senate seats in the following three states (according to the NYT): Alabama (Jeff Sessions, who ran unopposed), Oklahoma (Jim Inhofe) and Tennessee (Lamar Alexander).

8:07

NYT has projected that incumbent Sen. Susan Collins (R) has held onto to her seat in Maine.

Thad Cochran, the Republican incumbent senator from Mississippi, has also won re-election to the U.S. Senate.

Democrats have held onto Senate seats in two states in which polls closed at 8p.m. EST (Cory Booker in New Jersey and Ed Markey in Massachusetts).

8:02

NBC News is projecting that Republicans will (unsurprisingly) hold onto control of the House of Representatives, with the split breaking down as 242 Republicans to 193 Democrats, which represents a six seat loss if that projection holds up.

8 p.m.

A lot of polls have just closed across the country (though some, such as Connecticut, will stay open a little while longer due to voting issues that occurred earlier in the day). Here they are:

Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, most of New Hampshire, parts of North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, half of South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington D.C.

7:55

Sen. Hagan in North Carolina is gaining on Thom Tillis, as she now trails the Republican challenger 50%-46% with 2% reporting.

In New Hampshire, Scott Brown now trails Sen. Shaheen (D) 56%-43% with 7% reporting.

7:45

Republican Shelley Moore Capito has won West Virginia’s Senate seat. Republicans have now won three Senate seats so far (Kentucky, South Carolina, and now West Virginia).

7:42

In North Carolina, incumbent Kay Hagan (D) trails Republican Thom Tillis 57%-35% with 1% reporting.

Just north in Virginia, another Democrat incumbent in Mark Warner is trailing. Warner trails Ed Gillespie 56%-41% with 8% reporting.

7:30

More results: NYT reports Republican David Perdue has a very early 64%-34% lead over Democrat Michelle Nunn in the Georgia Senate race. This is one of the two races that possibly could not yield a winner tonight if neither candidate receives over 50% of the vote (the other being in Louisiana).

Also, polls have closed in North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia. With the poll closing in Ohio, Governor John Kasich (R) has already reportedly won re-election as that state’s governor.

7:24

Results are coming in from New Hampshire in that state’s senate race. So far, former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown (R) has an early 60%-40% lead over incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D).

In the Florida governor’s race, former governor Charlie Crist (D) has an early 52%-43% lead over incumbent governor Rick Scott (R) with 29% of counties reporting. MSNBC’s Ed Schultz is reporting that Crist’s camp will file a lawsuit to extend voting by one hour in Broward County. Reportedly, there were issues with allowing some citizens to vote (some things never change in Florida do they?)

7:13

Five more poll closings to tell you about- Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia.

NBC News has projected that Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) has won re-election to the U.S. Senate over Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes. McConnell currently leads 56%-41%.

South Carolina has also been called for incumbent Sen. Lindsey Graham (R). Graham had a comfortable lead over Democratic challenger Brad Hutto throughout the election season. In addition, South Carolina’s incumbent governor Nikki Haley has also reportedly won re-election.

6:18

Polls have closed in eastern Kentucky and in most of Indiana, and we have some (very) early results to pass along.

According to the New York Times, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has an early 61%-37% over Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes in the Kentucky Senate race, with about 1% of precincts reporting.

Stay tuned for more results.

3:10 p.m.

Here is a list of the times each state closes its polls. Remember, if you are in line to vote and polls in your state close while you are in line, you must be allowed to vote. Times are Eastern Standard Time (EST) and are provided by Ballotpedia.org

6 p.m. EST: eastern Kentucky and eastern Indiana

7 p.m. EST: western Kentucky, western Indiana, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Vermont, and Virginia

7:30 p.m. EST: North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia

8 p.m. EST: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, most of New Hampshire, parts of North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, half of South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington D.C.

8:30 p.m. EST: Arkansas

9 pm. EST: Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, New Mexico, parts of North Dakota, half of South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

10 p.m. EST: Iowa, southern Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Utah

11 p.m. EST: California, Hawaii, northern Idaho, Oregon, and Washington

Midnight EST: Alaska

We will update poll closings at the top and bottom of  each hour as each close.

 

1:44 P.M.

FiveThirtyEight’s latest Senate forecast is out and if the site’s model is accurate, it will be a night to celebrate for Republicans. Nate Silver and his team predict there is a 76.2% chance the Senate will be controlled by Republicans after all the votes are counted. The problem, however, is that all votes may not be counted by the end of the night. Or even tomorrow. Senate races in Georgia and Louisiana are currently projected to enter into a runoff since no candidate in either state is projected to receive at least 50% of the total vote. A runoff is either or both states between the top two recipients of votes would not occur until December, which means that we may not know the official results of those two races until January. Depending on how the rest of the races play out tonight, Democrats could technically hold onto a very slim majority in the Senate.