What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

Here’s a national landscape of prominent midterm races

Early reporting in Indiana may reflect which party will control the Senate. Ten seats in the Northeast could flip the House in favor of Democrats. In Florida, Georgia, and purple rust belt states including Ohio and Iowa, governor races may have important policy consequences. Megan Thompson asks NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Jeff Greenfield what races to watch on Tuesday.

Read the Full Transcript

  • MEGAN THOMPSON:

    Jeff, thanks so much for being here.

  • JEFF GREENFIELD:

    Please.

  • MEGAN THOMPSON:

    So, you say that on Tuesday, you'll be looking for clues very early in the evening.

  • JEFF GREENFIELD:

    Indiana is the very first state to report and that's where one the endangered Democratic senators is fighting for his political life. That's Joe Donnelly. If he loses to ex-state legislator Mike Braun, that's going to tell us that whatever slim chance Democrats think they have of taking the Senate is even slimmer.

    But I'll also be looking at Kentucky, a district where retired marine fighter pilot, Amy McGrath, is waging a very tough campaign against incumbent Republican Andy Barr. Now this is a deeply red district; if she could pull off an upset, that's an early clue there may in fact be a Democratic "blue wave" building.

  • MEGAN THOMPSON:

    Florida and Georgia — they've both gotten a lot of attention for of their governors' races.

  • JEFF GREENFIELD:

    Yeah. Even though there's a tight Senate race in Florida: Bill Nelson against the governor Scott, who's running for the Senate. Those two governor races got enormous attention because both in Florida, with Andrew Gillum and in Georgia with Stacy Abrams, we're talking about African-American candidates running very strongly and in particular, in the case of Abrams, if she wins, she'd be the first black female governor anywhere, ever in the United States, so everyone will be looking at that one.

  • MEGAN THOMPSON:

    I understand that a little bit later in the evening, you're going to be looking at races in the Northeast?

  • JEFF GREENFIELD:

    Yeah. A couple of weeks ago, we reported here about the trouble moderate Republicans are having in the suburbs. And Donald Trump is the headwind they're facing. So New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey combined have about 10 races they could flip. That's almost half of what Democrats need to take the House.

    So if you see — I'm being very specific here –if you see Leonard Lance, a five-term congressman from New Jersey, lose, that's trouble for the Republicans. If you see Peter King, a 25 year veteran from Long Island lose, now you're not talking about not a wave, but a tsunami.

  • MEGAN THOMPSON:

    Turning to the Midwest, there are a lot of key Senate races there. But you say you're going to be looking at the governor races. Why?

  • JEFF GREENFIELD:

    Well, it's true there are endangered Democrats — we talked about Donnelly, you're talking about Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, you're talking about Claire McCaskill in Missouri. But I'm fascinated by the governor races because after 2010, almost the entire Rust Belt was governed by Republicans and that had enormous public policy consequences. It's possible now that Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa all will flip to the Democrats and that we would see Democrats now in control.

    And that means everything from a big change in labor law, to environmental law, to abortion laws, to the redrawing of congressional districts. So that's why for me, the governors' races — we already mentioned Florida and Georgia — that could really be the big story of the evening.

  • MEGAN THOMPSON:

    Finally, let's turn West. You say we are also going to be able to get a lot of answers about what might happen out there.

  • JEFF GREENFIELD:

    Well, once again we've got senate races, but in this case, there's one endangered Democrat, Tester of Montana, but the two senate races Democrats most hope to capture are in the West – in Arizona, that's an open seat, and Dean Heller's seat in Nevada. And so if somehow, the Democrats who are endangered back east hold onto their seats, that's going to decide who takes the Senate.

    And finally, you can't ignore California because there are some half a dozen house seats just like in the Northeast, moderate and conservative Republicans in districts Hillary Clinton carried. And if the blue wave isn't strong enough to have taken the house by then, California will tell us whether Republicans or Democrats hold the House.

  • MEGAN THOMPSON:

    Any surprises you think might pop up on Tuesday?

  • JEFF GREENFIELD:

    There's one specific one, up in Alaska. Don Young, the at-large House member from Alaska, has been representing the state for 46 years and there are rumblings that he may be in trouble. That would really send some shockwaves through Capitol Hill.

    More broadly, there's some indication that millenials, who are always assumed, correctly, not to be voting much, may be turning out. The early vote for millenials has been very surprising. So if the polling we've seen hasn't taken that into account — and it's hard to reach millennials if you're a pollster — all of our assumptions about the wave in the House and how the Senate might go, get thrown into a cocked hat and we wake up Wednesday and go, how in heaven's name did that happen?

  • MEGAN THOMPSON:

    Alright, Jeff Greenfield, thank you so much.

Listen to this Segment

The Latest