We already know what the biggest story out of Election Night will probably be: Which party controls the United States Senate. But there are plenty of other interesting tidbits to follow along with as well. Here’s 19 other storylines your NBC News political team will be following on Tuesday night.
The History-Making Candidates
- Iowa has the chance to elect its first woman to Congress --- ever. The state has the ignominious distinction of being one of only four states – along with Mississippi, Delaware and Vermont – that has never elected a woman to the House or Senate. (It’s also never elected a female governor.) This year, Senate candidate Republican Joni Ernst could break that streak, as could Democratic House candidate Staci Appel.
- West Virginia will elect its first female senator on Election Night, no matter how the race goes. Both candidates are women: Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and Democrat Secretary of State Natalie Tennant. Capito is heavily favored to win; she would be the first Republican senator from West Virginia since the Civil Rights era.
- You haven’t heard much about it this cycle, but Tim Scott is cruising to becoming South Carolina’s first elected black senator – and the first African American elected to a statewide office there since Reconstruction. Scott was appointed to the seat after the resignation of Sen. Jim DeMint in 2012. He was one of two black U.S. Senators (the other being Cory Booker, D-NJ) and the only black Republican in the upper chamber. Scott easily won his primary contest and is expected to defeat Democrat Joyce Dickerson – who is also black – by a wide margin on Election Day.
- A congressional candidate in New York could become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. If she wins November’s contest against Democrat Aaron Woolf, Republican Elise Stefanik, 29, would also be the youngest member to serve in the new Congress. (The record for youngest woman elected to Congress is currently held by former Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman, also of New York, who was elected at age 31 in 1972.)
- Congress is poised to have its first black female Republican ever: Utah’s Mia Love. Love narrowly lost in 2012 but is expected to beat Democratic challenger Doug Owens this year.
- If he wins, Lee Zeldin, a congressional candidate in New York, will be the only Jewish Republican serving in Congress. The last one to serve: Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who was defeated in his primary earlier this year.
- In Michigan, Debbie Dingell is poised to win the House seat long held by her husband, John. (Dingell first took office in 1955, after the death of his father, John Dingell Sr., who served 22 years in the seat.) A wife taking over her husband’s seat is actually quite common; it’s happened 47 times in Capitol Hill history. But Debbie Dingell would be the first spouse to take over while her husband is still alive. And she’ll be the third in an unbroken line of Dingells in office that goes back almost 82 years, to John Dingell Sr.’s swearing-in in 1933.
- Republicans have two openly gay candidates on the congressional ballot this year: Carl DeMaio in California and Richard Tisei in Massachusetts. If either one wins, there would again be an openly gay Republican serving on Capitol Hill; the last, Arizona Rep. Jim Kolbe, retired in 2007.
- Congress would have its first ever former American Idol finalist if Clay Aiken was to win his congressional bid in a deep red district in North Carolina. (Its voters picked Mitt Romney over Barack Obama 58 percent to 41 percent.) He’s all but guaranteed to lose, though, so fans will have to hope the likes of Jordin Sparks (AZ-2) or Adam Lambert (CA-53) also catch the politics bug.
- The last time six sitting governors lost in a single election, MC Hammer and Sinead O’Connor topped the music charts. Half a dozen incumbents lost their re-election bids in 1994. This cycle, nearly a dozen incumbent governors are facing difficult races: in Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. And one, Gov. Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii, already lost his job after being defeated in the Democratic primary earlier this year.
- Voters in Iowa will be selecting their first new senator in 30 years. Tom Harkin, who’s retiring, was first elected in 1984; senior Sen. Chuck Grassley won his seat back in 1980.
- Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts is in real trouble against independent Greg Orman. A win for Orman would be the first time the Sunflower State hasn’t elected a Republican to the Senate since 1930.
- States don’t always treat presidential candidates like Senate ones. In Arkansas, Democrats have lost four consecutive presidential elections, but won four of the last five Senate races. (A win for Mark Pryor would make it five of six.)
- A defeat for Mark Begich would be a return to the state’s old ways, but a win would be impressive. Alaska hasn’t voted for a Democratic president since 1964, and Republicans won every statewide federal election from 1974 until Begich’s victory in 2008.
- New Hampshire’s notoriously swingy First Congressional District has ping-ponged back and forth between incumbent Carol Shea-Porter and former Republican Rep. Frank Guinta twice already. A win for Guinta would mean the seat has changed party hands four times in eight years.
Other Fun Facts
- Name recognition goes a long way in elections, so it’s no surprise that many candidates on the ballot this year have famous last names in their states. Here’s just a few of them:
ALASKA: Democrat Sen. Mark Begich is the son of the state’s former at-large congressman. ARKANSAS: Democrat Sen. Mark Pryor is the son of former Gov. and Sen. David Pryor COLORADO: Sen. Mark Udall’s father Morris (Mo) was a famous Arizona congressman and presidential candidate; his uncle served as Interior Secretary; and two of his cousins – Tom Udall of New Mexico and Mike Lee of Utah -- currently serve as U.S. senatorsFLORIDA: House candidate Democrat Gwen Graham is the daughter of beloved former Gov. and Sen. Bob Graham GEORGIA: Senate Democratic candidate Michelle Nunn is the daughter of longtime Sen. Sam Nunn. (Her opponent, David Perdue, is the cousin of the state’s former governor, Sonny Perdue)GEORGIA, PART TWO: Gubernatorial candidate Democrat Jason Carter is the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter LOUISIANA: Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu is the daughter of former New Orleans mayor Moon Landrieu and the brother of its current mayor, Mitch Landrieu.WEST VIRGINIA: Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, who’s running for Senate, is the daughter of former Gov. Arch Moore
- Maybe crime does pay. Rep. Michael Grimm, the New York Republican who faces a 20-count indictment on fraud and tax charges, may actually win his re-election bid. Despite the legal woes – and his caught-on-video threats to “break” a local reporter “like a boy” – Grimm is still in a tight race with Democrat Domenic Recchia. (His trial date is now set for February 2). And Grimm’s not the only Republican congressman who could return to the Hill despite a widely-publicized scandal. Also running competitively are “kissing congressman” Vance McAllister of Louisiana; Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Louisiana, a physician who impregnated a patient and then requested that she get an abortion; and South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford of “hiking the Appalachian trail” fame.
- Nearly $4 billion is projected to be spent on the election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That will make the 2014 election the most expensive midterm in history.