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OFF TO THE RACES: The Big Picture

From one of us(!): Here's an hour-by-hour timeline of key races to watch.

And also from one of us(!): Four major trends we're going to be keeping an eye out for as the returns start rolling in.

Super smart stuff from Ron Brownstein at National Journal, who offers perspective on what today's results do -- and don't -- mean.

The New York Times offers its "what to watch" here, too. And it sums up the mood of the electorate thusly: "The uncertainty about the outcome is a fitting match for the mood of the nation. A slowly but steadily improving economy — with six months of strong growth, gasoline below $3 a gallon for the first time in four years and substantial deficit reduction — has not translated into broader optimism. Voters are more inclined toward blame than credit. Instead, they are seemingly worn down by economic struggles and late waves of panic, chiefly about the threats posed by the Islamic State and the possible spread of Ebola."

The Wall Street Journal looks ahead to What It Means for Obama's presidency if the GOP walks away with a Senate majority: "The election looks set to remake the political landscape for Mr. Obama in the last quarter of his presidency, reducing his room for maneuver but also potentially opening new areas for compromise. The president will have to decide how far he’s willing to bend to make legislative deals with Republicans: whether to seek deals with a party he’s spent four years battling, or to maintain a confrontational approach with the aim of helping a Democratic successor win the White House in 2016."

From the AP: "More than 18.6 million Americans in 32 states already have cast ballots in the nation's midterm elections, a significant increase over the 2010 early voting, according to data from state elections officials."

The Washington Post calls the Senate math "forbidding" for Democrats.

The Wall Street Journal also looks at the turnout gap between seniors and young voters.

The Hill talks to McConnell confidants who describe the job of Majority Leader as the Kentucky Republican's "lifetime goal."

Thousands of partisan lawyers and poll watchers are ready to mobilize if there are problems at the polls, McClatchy notes.

OFF TO THE RACES: Battles in the states

ALASKA: Above the fold: The front page of the Alaska Dispatch News: "Weighty choices as Alaskans go to polls."

ARKANSAS: Above the fold: The front page of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette: "Candidates make last-minute push" ... "Early voting up 33% from 2010, sets momentum."

COLORADO: The Denver Post: "A day before voters decide whether to give him another term, Gov. John Hickenlooper on Monday unveiled a $26.8 billion state budget proposal for the next fiscal year that includes about $200 million in rebates to taxpayers."

The final Quinnipiac poll finds both the gubernatorial and Senate races too close to call.

FLORIDA: Above the fold: The front page of the Miami Herald: "Big Donors, Big Dollars: Record-setting election in Florida is most expensive in the nation."

The Herald also offers a primer on why counting votes in South Florida is so labor intensive.

GEORGIA: NBC's Kristen Welker: "A week after he said he'd "outsourced" numerous products and services as a business executive — and one day after he denied ever having outsourced a job — Georgia Republican Senate candidate David Perdue called the issue a "distraction" Monday and refused to answer NBC News' questions about the apparent contradiction."

Here's the Atlanta Journal Constitution's dive into what trends to watch for tonight in the state.

IOWA: Above the fold: The front page of the Des Moines Register: "Make History Today: Vote."

Joni Ernst talked to NBC's Luke Russert about health care in the Hawkeye State.

And the waning hours of the midterm election found Sen. Tom Harkin apologizing for comparing Joni Ernst to Taylor Swift.

ILLINOIS: Headline points to the Chicago Sun-Times: "Who Do You Gov?"

KENTUCKY: The Herald-Leader's Sam Youngman sums up the last day of campaigning between Grimes and McConnell.

KANSAS: NBC's Kelly O'Donnell caught up with Greg Orman, who hit back at Pat Roberts for saying his pitch to voters sounds like "a high school sophomore."

LOUISIANA: Above the fold: The front page of the New Orleans Times-Picayune: "Senate race is the state's MOST EXPENSIVE EVER"

MAINE: "Republican Gov. Paul LePage said of one of his harshest critics needs to be put on a “suicide watch” because the governor will win his re-election bid."

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Above the fold: The front page of the Union Leader: "NH voters could tip the scales."

Check out DiStaso's primer on Election Day.

NORTH CAROLINA: Above the fold: The front page of the News & Observer: "5 Questions Election Day Will Answer."

The Wall Street Journal highlights North Carolina's Senate contest as the key one to determine "whether voters here are more frustrated with President Barack Obama and national Democrats or with state Republicans who have pushed a conservative shift in state policy."

WISCONSIN: Above the fold: The front page of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "Sprinting to the finish line."

Per the paper: "The state Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections, estimates 56.5% of eligible voters, or 2.5 million people, will turn out. That is lower than the 57.8% of eligible voters who showed up in the 2012 recall election for governor, but higher than any midterm election in 50 years. "


*** Tuesday’s “The Daily Rundown” line-up: MSNBC’s Ari Melber interviews NBC’s Luke Russert, Kristen Welker, Chuck Todd, Tom Brokaw, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, MSNBC’s Beth Fouhy, Zack Roth, Benjy Sarlin, Trymaine Lee, Irin Carmon, Aliyah Frumin, Republican Strategist Steve Schmidt and Voto Latino’s Maria Teresa Kumar.

*** Tuesday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: Tamron Hall interviews Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), Sen Robert Casey D-PA, Democratic strategist Robert Zimmerman, Conservative Radio Talk show host Steve Deace, WGSO Radio Host and WGNO Political commentator Kaare Johnson, and The Boston Globe’s Politics Reporter Joshua Miller on today’s midterm elections.

*** Tuesday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: The special Election Day coverage will include MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Benjy Sarlin, Trymaine Lee and Suzy Khimm, Fmr. White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod, Fmr. White House Communications Director Anita Dunn, Fmr. RNC Chairman Michael Steele, NBC “Meet the Press” Moderator Chuck Todd, NBC’s Luke Russert and Perry Bacon, USA Today’s Susan Page and the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza.

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