From Maine to Montana, voters today will decide the fate of the U.S. Congress and the future of the Trump presidency in a historic midterm election that has the potential to shape the political dynamic in Washington and Beacon Hill for years to come.

The election also will be the unofficial kickoff to the 2020 White House race, as Democrats like U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren look to launch their campaigns to unseat President Trump.

Late polls show the House swinging the Democrats’ way, triggering the possible start of new investigations, impeachment proceedings and putting several Massachusetts lawmakers in key positions of clout.

But party leaders are wary of a repeat of 2016, when pollsters vastly underestimated support for Trump and other Republicans. A Democratic failure would be cataclysmic for the Resist movement.

Republicans are cautiously optimistic of keeping hold of the Senate and even increasing their majority, raising the prospect of a split in the halls of Congress that could increase partisan rancor and ensure gridlock for the next two years.

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Here’s what to watch for as the results pour in:

–Will the vaunted “blue wave” actually materialize and sweep Democrats to victory across the nation? The latest polls suggest only a limited wave forming in select states, with Republicans picking up enough U.S. Senate seats to prevent a Democratic blowout.

–The Trump factor. The president has played a starring role in the midterms but his star would be stained by a Democratic romp in states like Georgia and Tennessee where he put himself on the line. That would not bode well for his re-election chances.

–It’s not the economy, stupid. Trump made the strategic decision to focus on immigration and the “caravan” of migrants headed through Mexico in the election’s closing days, but that could backfire. Some Republicans believe he should have emphasized the nation’s strong economy instead.

–The governors. Democrats Andrew Gillum in Florida and Stacey Abrams in Georgia are vying for governor’s seats in the two marquee races. Abrams would become the first female African-American governor in U.S. history.

–The Baker landslide. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker appears to be headed for an easy re-election win in deep blue Massachusetts, possibly besting the 71 percent vote total that former Gov. William F. Weld garnered in 1994. A Baker win by historic margins would position him nationally as one of the leaders of the anti-Trump Republicans and a possible future White House contender.

–Where’s Warren? Polls suggest the Democratic incumbent senator will win comfortably but by how much? At times she seemed more focused on states like Ohio and Iowa than Massachusetts. Her challenger, Republican Geoff Diehl, has made an appeal for independent voters who may be turned off by Warren’s blatant national ambitions.

–The young and the restless. Voters in the 18-30 age block traditionally have been less than reliable at showing up at the polls, but this time around Democrats are counting on a surge of millennials to storm the polls and ride the “blue wave” to victory.


(c)2018 the Boston Herald

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