Hard News by Russell Brown


The Midterms

This week's US midterm elections are inescapably a referendum on Donald Trump's presidency, and would have been so even if he hadn't gone to such lengths to make it that way.

The closing campaign ad that was so racist and mendacious that even Fox News stopped airing it? It was made at Trump's order after he rejected a more conventional effort focusing on the economy. As RNZ's Tim Watkin observes of one of the final campaign rallies, the candidates for whom Trump was supposedly stumping were mere bit players in the production.

The expectation is that the Democratic Party will regain the House of Representatives and pick up some key governorships, but that there probably aren't enough seats in play for control of the Senate to change hands. But so polarised is the country and so broken its electoral system that according to Nate Silver, the Democrats will need to win between eight and nine per cent more votes nationally to be sure of taking the house.

Here's a guide to the various poll closing times. Turnout and America's broken voting machinery might make for a long wait for tallies to be delivered (everyone waiting in line at the time a polling place officially closes must be allowed to vote), but things should start getting interesting from about 1pm.

I'm taking the afternoon off my other work and a journalist buddy is coming over to watch things unfold with me. I'll make BLTs for lunch and we'll try and stay off the beers until later. We'll watch CNN and read the major newspaper sites, plus Talking Points Memo and FiveThirtyEight. I might have a look at an MSNBC stream and perhaps, later on, some Fox News for the lols.

If you do Twitter, I'll be tweeting a lot at @publicaddress. I'll also swing back here and update things through the day. Please do feel free to chip in with observations, updates and interesting links.

Meanwhile, my New Zealand-resident American friends have already voted, weeks ago – paradoxically, it's easier for them to do so from here than it will be for many people to vote at their local polling today – and are seriously considering just starting on the bourbon to ease their nerves. They feel what Barack Obama said this week: that the character of their nation is on the ballot.

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