Americans cast their vote on Tuesday in critical midterm elections that represent the first major test by voters of Donald Trump's presidency.
With polls now closed, Democrats have won control of the House of Representatives, while Republicans have been successful in expanding their hold on the Senate. The results will lead to a divided Congress and could complicate Trump's legislative agenda.
All times in Central European Time (CET)
0945 Ahead of the election, President Trump said a Democratic win in the midterms would mean higher taxes. DW's Business desk looks at what could change when Democrats take control of the US purse strings.
0845 Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California won re-election to her fifth full term brushing aside a challenge from fellow Democrat Kevin de Leon. An influential figure in Washington, Feinstein beat out de Leon, 51, who presented himself as a more progressive alternative to 85-year-old Feinstein.
08:27 In Nevada, Republican incumbent Dean Heller has lost his Senate seat to Democrat Jacky Rosen. Heller had taken an early lead, but later results came in from big state districts that tend to favor Democrats.
08:10 Some of the races in western states are still seen as too close to call — particularly in Senate contests — with many votes still not in. In Arizona, the Republican incumbent Martha McSally is in a virtual tie with Democratic candidate Krysten Sinema.
07:30 It’s still tight in a closely matched governor's contest in Georgia, with talk that the race may be headed for a runoff. Democrat Stacey Abrams is running against Republican Brian Kemp. If Abrams were to win, she would become the first African-American woman to be a governor of a US state. At present, however, Kemp is leading. "I promise you tonight that every vote is counted," said Abrams, amid claims of voter suppression favoring the Republican side.
07:20 A record number of women are headed to Congress, with the current record of 84 female members of the House of Representatives set to be broken. Female candidates — 78 Democratic and 12 Republican — have already won 90 seats in the House. More than 230 women, many of them running for the first time, were on ballots in House races.
07:05 Democrats scored a must-win in the US midterm elections, but the hoped-for "blue wave" did not materialize while Trump fever is still burning hot among the president's supporters, writes DW's Michael Knigge.
06:35 Florida Republican Rick Scott looks set to win the state's US Senate election, ousting the Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson in a race that went down to the wire. Meanwhile, Republican Ron DeSantis, previously a member of the House of Representatives, is set to become the state’s next governor, with a victory over Democrat Andrew Gillum.
05:53 For the first time in US history, two Muslim women have been elected to Congress. Ilhan Omar, 37, a former refugee from Somalia, succeeded fellow Democrat Keith Ellison in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Palestinian-American Rashida Tlaib, 42, ran unopposed in a Michigan congressional district that has been the home of many immigrants of Middle Eastern descent.
05:25 Democrats have won control of the House of Representatives, according to US media projections. With gains in districts in the Midwest and Northeast, Democrats have picked up the seats needed to win back the House, even as more races in the West have yet to be decided.
04:45 Republicans have held the US Senate - Senator Ted Cruz fended off a challenge from upstart Democratic candidate Beto O'Rourke. Despite his remarkable run, O'Rourke was unable to pull off an upset in deeply red Texas. Further away in North Dakota, embattled incumbent Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp was defeated by her Republican challenger.
04:09 Polls have closed in Iowa, Montana, Nevada and Utah. Senators Dean Heller of Nevada and Jon Tester of Montana are two endangered incumbents fighting for their seats.
03:50 Meanwhile in Georgia, poll times are being extended in Fulton County, which covers much of Atlanta, due to a shortage in voting machines and other issues.
03:42 Republicans pick up two key Senate seats. Marsha Blackburn won the open seat in Tennessee, defeating the state's former governor Democrat Phil Bredesen. Democratic incumbent Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana lost his seat to Republican Mike Braun. Both Blackburn and Braun fully embraced President Trump, in states where the president enjoys wide support. The wins increase the chances of Republicans keeping control of the Senate and maybe even widening their majority.
03:10 Polls have closed in the states of Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Democratic candidate Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Martha McSally are locked in a tight race to fill the seat of outgoing Republican Senator Jeff Flake.
02:30 Democrats have picked up the first two out of the 22 seats they need to win the House of Representatives, CNN and other news outlets have reported. Jennifer Wexton prevailed over Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock, in a northern Virginia district that Hillary Clinton won in 2016. In Florida, Democratic candidate Donna Shalala, a former member of Bill Clinton's Cabinet, won the open seat of retiring Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
02:09 Polls have closed in a large number of states: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, the eastern half of South Dakota, Tennessee and most of Texas, Kansas and Michigan.
01:45 Voter suppression has been a theme in this year's midterms. A small group of volunteers from Georgetown University are evaluating whether voting is actually free and fair, by collecting sample-based observation data from polling stations. The project Observe D.C. has made the results available to anyone online. "The core mission of the grant I was awarded was to try and rebuild the trust that is maybe lacking in the US at the moment. And in our small little way, we're trying to do that through election integrity work," founder Ben Mindes told DW.
01:30 Polls have closed in Ohio, North Carolina and West Virginia. Senate Democratic incumbent Joe Manchin is facing a tough re-election, in a state that President Trump won by over 40 points. Manchin has held a more moderate position and voted with Republicans on some issues. Most recently, he voted in favor of the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
01:02 Polls have closed Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, Rhode Island, Vermont and most of Florida. In Georgia, Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams is vying to become the first African-American female governor of a US state. She has been locked in a tight and bitter campaign against Republican Brian Kemp. In Florida, Democrats are hoping to hold Senator Bill Nelson's seat and for Andrew Gillum to win the governor's race. No Democrat has been governor of Florida in the past 19 years.
00:40 In Kentucky, former Marine pilot and Democratic candidate Amy McGrath is hoping to unseat Republican incumbent Andy Barr. It is a tough task, in a district that Barr won with 22 percentage points in the past election. If McGrath manages the win, it would indicate that Democrats can win tough districts in the heart of Trump country.
00:04 First polls have closed in parts of the central states of Indiana and Kentucky. In Indiana, Senate Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly is facing a tough re-election campaign. A win there would boost Democrats' hopes of closing the gap in Senate seats.
23:44 According to an AP survey of voters, health care and immigration ranked high on voters' minds. A majority of voters considered President Trump a factor in their electoral choice. While two-thirds of voters said economic conditions in the US are good, a majority said the country is headed in the wrong direction.
23:20 With just under an hour to go until the first polls close, long lines have been reported across the country, but especially in the state of Georgia. It is unclear if voting times can or would be extended for those still in line and hoping to cast a ballot when polls close. Local broadcaster WSB reported wait times of up to four hours.
23:00 Midterm elections are not known for high participation of young voters. DW's Michael Knigge caught up with first-time voter and high school senior Mac Johnson in Maryland. He said election day should be about the issues and not Trump.
22:30 Breakdowns have been reported in more than a dozen neighborhoods in New York City. "People are grumpy and frustrated but positive in a weird way ... I think it's because we all are in the 'no one will stop our vote today' mood,'" said Nikki Euell, who waited more than two hours to vote in Brooklyn's Greenpoint neighborhood.
22:10 A man in his 40s has been charged with terroristic threats and disorderly conduct after a suspect threatened to shoot polling station workers in Pennsylvania after they told him he wasn't registered to vote. The Washington County assistant elections director said the man allegedly "became upset, told the poll workers he was going to go get a gun and come back and shoot them."
21:50 Republicans enjoy a slim 51-49 edge in the Senate and are favored to hang on to their majority as Democrats are defending 26 seats, and Republicans only nine. The latest polls give Democrats a good chance of gaining the 23 seats needed to win the House of Representatives, putting them in the position to push back against the president's policies.
21:25 The midterm elections will be the most secure in the modern era, according to US Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. She said that no voting machines have been compromised, but there has been a misinformation effort by foreign groups eager to sow discord. Voters were managing long lines and malfunctioning machines, but those problems weren't because of any foreign interference.
21:05 A judge has ordered 12 polling stations in Indiana to stay open up to 2 1/2 hours later than the scheduled closing time because voting started up to 90 minutes later than scheduled, reported The Times of Northwest Indiana.
20:55 Most polls will close between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. CET. Parts of Kentucky and Indiana will close earlier, at midnight. Others, in Alaska and Hawaii, for example, will close later at 6 a.m. Wednesday morning. This live feed is being updated regularly and our team will be here throughout the night bringing you the latest in the first US national elections since Donald Trump was elected to the White House.
20:40 Broken voting machines were reported in at least 12 states, according to an "election protection" coalition of more than 100 groups that set up a national hotline for reporting irregularities, reported the Reuters news agency. A US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official said the agency received reports of "sparse" voting technology failures, which appeared to have had no significant impact in preventing people from voting.
20:20 "I Voted" stickers are somewhat of a tradition in many states and precincts. Voters wear the badges with pride, proving they've participated in elections. A lot of retailers offer deals and discounts to sticker wearers, but today there is disappointment among some voters who left several polling stations empty-handed, either because the stickers ran out, or were never there in the first place. Louisiana voters were deprived of "I Voted" stickers because of "budgetary constraints," according to WBRZ.
19:40 The US Border Patrol has canceled a "crowd control exercise" in the El Paso neighborhood of Texas following criticism from civil liberties groups that it could dissuade people from voting. The Texas Civil Rights Project said the exercise, billed as a "mobile field force demonstration," was to be held within a half-mile of a polling site, reported the AP news agency.
18:55 Voting at a polling station in Palm Bay, Florida was briefly interrupted after a man with a firearm was reported in a nearby parking lot. The man in his 80s was reportedly sitting in his vehicle with the gun, which was not loaded, on his lap. The open carry of firearms is generally banned in Florida. The incident was resolved quickly.
18:45 Officials at the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) described the midterms as the most secure elections in US history. Cybersecurity protections have been beefed up with improved communications and intelligence-sharing. Federal authorities said there have been no indications of cyberattacks by Russia or any other foreign actor. There was also no indication of system compromises that would prevent voting, change vote counts or disrupt the ability to tally ballots.
18:25 Many US states allow voters time off work to cast their ballots. Some even pay workers to exercise their right to vote. Ro Khanna, US House candidate from California's 17th congressional district, tweeted the details.
18:20 In a party that belongs to Trump, Republican candidates in the midterm elections are ultimately just sideshows — even those that mimic the president, reports Michael Knigge from Virginia: Republican 'mini-Trumps' echo US president to woo midterm voters
18:00 One of the hotly-contested races DW is keeping a close eye on is in Georgia, where voters reported waiting up to three hours in the rain to cast their ballots. One polling site blamed the delays on workers who didn't show up and overloaded machines. Democrat Stacey Abrams is running against Republican Brian Kemp in the southern state. Should Abrams win, she would become the first African-American woman to be a US state governor.
17:45 Curbing illegal immigration is a key issue for Republican voters Carol and Buzz Herti from Arlington, Virginia. They told DW's Michael Knigge they support Donald Trump even though he was not their first choice in the primaries. "He has given us a greater reason to be proud," Carol Herti said.
Calling herself a conservative-leaning Independent, consultant Kathleen McKenna called Trump a "gross person" who she did not vote for. However, she told DW that some of his economic policies have been successful and the GOP is more than Trump.
17:05 House Democratic leader and Trump foe Nancy Pelosi forecasts Democratic victories across the country, but with a small overall margin of victory. Pelosi says that as few as 25,000 votes nationwide could swing the results.
17:00 Severe weather and thunderstorms in several Southern states have downed trees and power lines and may affect voter turnout. DW's US correspondent Michael Knigge just ran into White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders as she scrambled back to her car in a downpour, after voting with her family in Arlington, Virginia. Asked what outcome she expected, she said: "I think we are going to have a great day." You can follow Michael on Twitter @kniggem
16:50 "In few places has the Trump presidency done more damage to America's image than here in Germany," says DW's Chief Political Correspondent Melinda Crane.
16:45 Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, has said he hopes the election outcome will ease US domestic tensions and allow Washington to focus on global issues. He told reporters in Madrid on Tuesday that Russian-American ties have become "hostage to internal political squabbles in America." He also reiterated Moscow's position that it is not meddling in US elections.
16:35 Josef Braml, who comments on matters of US policy for the German Council on Foreign Relations, explains in this DW article how a victory for the Democrats could lay the foundation for Trump's re-election in 2020.
16:15 Facebook blocked 115 social media accounts ahead of the US midterm elections, saying they were linked to foreign groups attempting to interfere in Tuesday's polls. Tuesday's elections are the first major ones to take place in the US since Russia targeted state election systems during the 2016 presidential race and ran disinformation campaigns with divisive content on Facebook and Twitter.
16:00 US President Donald Trump has held multiple rallies across the nation in the run-up to Tuesday's election, using his trademark fiery rhetoric to back Republican candidates and lambast their rival Democrats. The US leader also acknowledged the significance of the midterm elections for his presidency. "Even though I'm not on the ballot, in a certain way I am on the ballot," Trump said at a rally in Cleveland, Ohio on Monday night.
15:45 The top trending Google search in the United States is "donde votar," which is Spanish for "where to vote." Other midterms-related search topics, albeit in English, dominated Google's top-five trending searches. Democrats have been hoping for large turnouts from the Hispanic and African-American communities, who tend to vote blue.
15:25 Rainy weather is in the forecast for several US states, with experts concerned that severe storms could affect voter turnout, particularly in several southern states. So far, the rain hasn't deterred voters in Virginia, reports DW's Michael Knigge. One polling station in Arlington still had a line past 9:00 a.m. — a time when many people would need to already be at work.
15:00 Key races to watch:
Texas — Incumbent Republican Senator Ted Cruz is facing off against progressive Democrat Beto O'Rourke in a battle for reliably Republican Texas. O'Rourke has drawn enthusiastic support from people in Texas' major cities, while Cruz has been doing better in the state's massive rural areas.
Florida — The state's former Governor Rick Scott is running to unseat Democrat Senator Bill Nelson, with gun control issues dominating the debate. The race to replace Scott as governor has also been tight — with Democrat Andrew Gillum hoping to become the state's first African-American governor. Gillum is facing off against Republican Ron DeSantis, who is a big Trump supporter.
Arizona — No matter which candidate the voters choose, one thing is clear — Arizona is getting its first woman senator. Two women are competing for the spot, Republican Martha McSally and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema.
Georgia — Many will also be watching the race for governor in the southern state of Georgia. Democrat Stacey Abrams is running against Republican Brian Kemp. Should Abrams win, she would become the first African-American woman to be a governor of a US state. Kemp faces allegations that he attempted to prevent thousands of black voters from casting their ballots.
What time do polls close? Polls will begin to close at 6 p.m. EST (2300 GMT) in Kentucky, but voting in many key states will be closing around 7 p.m., including in Georgia, Indiana and Virginia. Results from other key states like Texas, Michigan and Pennsylvania will begin to roll in between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. The last batch of states will close their polls at 1 a.m. EST on Wednesday night.
What are the key issues? Both Trump critics and supporters are keen to make their opinions known in the polls about the controversial US leader's first two years in office. Immigration, the economy, women's rights issues, race and other cultural issues are weighing heavy on voters' minds.
Why Europe is closely watching the US vote: While US midterm elections typically do not generate great interest abroad, Germany and others in the European Union are paying close attention, since the outcome could have a significant impact on Trump's foreign policy. Experts told DW that should the Democrats gain control of Congress, the win could push Trump to focus more on foreign policy since his domestic agenda will be met with more roadblocks.
kw,rs, jcg/sms (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)