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Midterms Were a Buffet Election for Democrats, Republicans
Each side can pick what it liked best from the results — and ignore warning signs

Sen.-elect Mike Braun, R-Ind., Sen.-elect Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Sen.-elect Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Sen.-elect Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Gov. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and Sen.-elect Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., pose for a group photo in McConnell’s office in the Capitol on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

When I was a kid in small-town Oregon, my family would occasionally go to King’s Table, and my sister and I would get free rein at the buffet.

I became famous in my own family for my condiment salad — an impressive collection of bacon bits, croutons, shredded cheese, sunflower seeds and plenty of ranch dressing. Essentially, my strategy involved choosing what looked and tasted good and avoiding anything of nutritional value.

It’s Thursday — 13 House Races, 3 Senate Races Yet Unresolved
Democrats look to expand their majority in the House, as GOP looks for Senate gains in Arizona, Florida

Republican Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, has not been declared the winner in his race against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, though Nelson is calling for a recount. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Two days after Election Day, three Senate races and 13 House races remain unresolved. A runoff later this month will determine the winner of the Senate race in Mississippi.

House Democrats have already passed the threshold for a majority by winning 225 seats so far, wresting control of a chamber they haven’t held since 2010. Based on current projections, they could obtain as many as 234 seats — good for a 33-seat majority — though it is more likely they’ll land somewhere around 228 seats for a still-significant 21-seat margin.

5 Surprises from the 2018 Midterm Elections
From the Indiana Senate race to the Atlanta suburbs, a scattering of the unexpected

Republican Senate candidate for Indiana Mike Braun defeated Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana, by nearly double digits. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Most midterm elections have dozens of individual House and Senate races that remain unpredictable right up until — and after — the polls close on Election Day. The 2018 cycle was no different, with 22 House and three Senate races still uncalled by 10:15 a.m. Wednesday.

But each year, there are a few races that experts thought they had a handle on, only to be flummoxed by the results.

Down to the Wire: 16 House Races, 2 Senate Races Yet to Be Called
Democrats look to expand their majority in the House, as GOP looks for Senate gains in Arizona, Florida

Martha McSally, R-Ariz., is leading narrowly in the Arizona Senate race, which as of Wednesday afternoon had not been called. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two Senate races and 16 House races remain uncalled as of 9 p.m. Wednesday on the East Coast.

House Democrats have already passed the threshold for a majority by winning 220 seats so far, wresting control of a chamber they haven’t held since 2010. Based on current projections, they could obtain as many as 234 seats — good for a 33-seat majority — though it is more likely they’ll land somewhere around 228 seats for a still-significant 21-seat lead over the Republicans.

It’s Not Too Early to Start Looking at the 2020 Senate Map
The fight for the Senate should once again be a prime battle.

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., is up for re-election in 2020 in a state carried by both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The votes haven’t all been counted in the 2018 Senate elections, but we know the size of the incoming majority will be critical, because the 2020 Senate map offers limited initial takeover opportunities for both parties.

Of course, it’s too early to tell what the presidential race will look like, how voters will feel about the economy and direction of the country, and whether they’ll believe more Democrats are needed in Washington.

McCaskill: ‘I Don’t Really Care’ Whether I Work with GOP or Democratic Majority
Missouri Democrat makes closing pitch in tossup race against state AG Josh Hawley

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said Monday she doesn't "really care" whether Democrats take back control of the Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In a final pitch Monday to independent and undecided voters before Election Day, Sen. Claire McCaskill told reporters she doesn’t “really care” whether Democrats win back a majority in the Senate or if Republicans squeak out another win.

The Missouri Democrat, one of 10 Democratic senators running for re-election this cycle in states President Donald Trump won in 2016, faces state Attorney General Josh Hawley in Tuesday’s midterm election.

DOJ Civil Rights Division to Monitor Polls in 35 Counties on Election Day
Arizona, Nevada, Florida, North Dakota, and Texas among 19 states where DOJ personnel will monitor polling places

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has deployed Civil Rights Division personnel to monitor polling locations in 35 counties in 19 different states on Election Day. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When Americans head to the polls on Tuesday for the midterm elections, voters in 35 counties — from Las Vegas to Dallas to Tampa — will head to precincts that are being closely monitored by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division for “compliance with the federal voting rights laws,” the DOJ announced Monday.

“Voting rights are constitutional rights, and they’re part of what it means to be an American,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

Steve King Recounts Holocaust Tour, Wards Off Anti-Semitic Accusations
Iowa Republican’s seat unexpectedly in play on eve of election

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, over the weekend described his recent trip to Poland to visit sites of the Holocaust. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican who has retweeted and met with far-right groups with ties to Nazis, defended himself against accusations of being an anti-Semite over the weekend by telling the story of his recent trip to Poland to visit sites of the Holocaust.

The Jewish non-profit group From The Depths, which raises money to take members of Congress and other other public figures to see Holocaust memorial sites, recently hosted King on a five-day tour through Poland.

Marsha Blackburn — The Name That at Least a Couple of GOP Colleagues Are Loath to Say
Tennessee Sen. Corker and Gov. Haslam declined to explicitly say they voted for her

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., who is running for Senate, has tepid support from two of the top three Republicans in her state. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two of the top three Republican lawmakers in Tennessee declined to explicitly say this week whether they voted for the GOP’s Senate nominee, Rep. Marsha Blackburn.

Sen. Bob Corker, the retiring chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, whose Volunteer State seat Blackburn is running to fill, and term-limited Gov. Bill Haslam, each hinted that they voted for Blackburn over centrist Democratic candidate and former governor Phil Bredesen — but declined to use Blackburn’s name when answering reporters’ questions.

In Show of Civility, Curbelo Meets with Teen Who Threatened to Kill Him
Man has apologized for non-specific threat made over Twitter, Florida congressman says

Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., appeared at a joint press conference to forgive a man who threatened to kill him. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In a tour de civility, Rep. Carlos Curbelo met with a 19-year-old who threatened to kill him and forgave him.

Curbelo, a Florida Republican, appeared at a joint news conference on Thursday with Pierre Alejandro Verges-Castro, whom the congressman said had fallen “into the trap of violent political speech and hateful expression” but did not plan to actually follow through on his threat, the Miami Herald reported.