Good morning, and happy Election Day. Here are some of the stories we’re following today:
1. What are the midterm election races to watch?
Election Day could offer surprises, with as many as 10 Senate races considered toss-ups. Republicans are trying to grab six seats to take over the Senate, and they’re already expected to retain control of the House. Key Senate races will be in North Carolina, where incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan is trying to fend off Republican challenger Thom Tillis, and New Hampshire, where incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen has been locked in a nasty campaign with Republican Scott Brown, formerly a Massachusetts senator. And as with every election, the question of voter turnout will be key. Read more in POLITICS and follow the latest results at NBC NEWS’ DECISION 2014.
2. Two states weigh pot legalization vote
Residents of Oregon and Alaska will decide whether to legalize marijuana, and subsequently become the third and fourth states — following Colorado and Washington — to do so. Observers say Tuesday’s pivotal trip to the ballot box is as much a decision about the specific initiatives in Oregon and Alaska as a referendum on the success of those unfolding experiments in Colorado and Washington. Both the pro- and anti-legalization sides have been campaigning hard, and the ballot initiatives have been too close to call in early polling. Read more in POLITICS.
3. Virgin Galactic crash review could take months
Debris from Friday’s unexpected explosion of the SpaceShipTwo rocket plane over the Mojave Desert was found about 35 miles away from the site. The latest clues, however, only mean the investigation into why the rocket malfunctioned during a test flight will remain a long process. Officials are looking at both the plane’s so-called wing-feathering system and why it was unlocked prematurely for more answers. It will take several months longer to sift through the data and issue a report identifying the cause and making recommendations for future operations, the NTSB said. Read more in SCIENCE.
4. ISIS’s latest propaganda tool lures families
The terror network in Iraq and Syria is portraying itself as a family-friendly fellowship in order to gain recruits and lure their spouses and children, the FBI said. This latest online recruitment tool comes as officials find Americans — particularly younger ones — looking to join the fight with ISIS. Two weeks ago, three schoolgirls from Colorado were reportedly on their way to Syria and wanted to marry ISIS fighters. They weren’t charged but instead turned over to their parents. Read more in NEWS.
5. Two nuke commanders dismissed in scandal
The Air Force’s woes continue. A No. 2 commander at the Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming and a missile squadron commander in North Dakota were both dismissed over a “loss of confidence,” officials said Monday. A third officer based in North Dakota was also disciplined. It is unusual for disciplinary action to be taken against senior officers at two of the Air Force’s three nuclear missile bases on the same day, and it extends a pattern of leadership failures in the nuclear force during the past year. Read more in NEWS.
6. Oregon boy’s body found in bay
The Coast Guard pulled a lifeless 6-year-old from western Oregon’s Yaquina Bay early Tuesday. The chilling discovery comes after the boy’s mother called 911 to report that she threw her son from a bridge, Newport police said. Jillian McCabe, 34, was arrested and faces murder and manslaughter charges. Read more in NEWS.
… What’s trending today?
Actress Emma Watson accepted the Britannia Award for British Artist of the Year by dedicating the honors to a deceased furry friend: her hamster, Millie. The cuddly critter had a heart attack during the filming of the first “Harry Potter” film.