WASHINGTON — Maybe the best way to view today’s elections in Kentucky, Mississippi and Virginia is that Republicans are playing defense — on favorable turf in the red states of Kentucky and Mississippi, and on much more challenging ground in Virginia.
As a result, a good night for the GOP will be if they can hold their losses to control of just one chamber in Virginia, and keep control of everything else.
And a good/great night for Democrats will be if they flip both chambers in Virginia and win the governor’s mansion in Kentucky.
Here’s a state-by-state look at today’s elections:
In Kentucky, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin — whose surprising victory in 2015 foreshadowed President Trump’s a year later — is facing off against Democrat Andy Beshear in today’s marquee contest.
Democratic and Republican observers believe the race is a toss-up, but the nationalization of our politics (see Trump campaigning for Bevin last night) could give the GOP the slightest of edges.
Republicans have enjoyed a narrow ad-spending advantage in the contest, $13.1 million to $10.1 million, according to data from Advertising Analytics.
Polling places close in the eastern part of Kentucky at 6:00 p.m. ET, and they close in the western part at 7:00 p.m. ET.
In Mississippi’s gubernatorial race, Republican Tate Reeves is running against Democrat Jim Hood. While this contest is competitive, especially for a state Trump won by 18 points in 2016, Republicans feel increasingly optimistic.
The ad spending in this contest has been essentially even — $3.3 million for the GOP, $3.2 million for Democrats.
Polls in Mississippi close at 8:00 p.m. ET.
And in Virginia, control of the state House and Senate is up for grabs, with Republicans holding a narrow 20-19 majority in the state Senate, and a 51-48 edge in the House of Delegates.
“If Democrats can take control, they could consolidate power for the first time in 26 years and work with [Dem Gov. Ralph] Northam to enact legislation long blocked by Republicans,” the Washington Post writes.
Polling places close in Virginia at 7:00 p.m. ET.
The final race of 2019 – the runoff for Louisiana governor — takes place on Saturday, Nov. 16.
A final thought: Is impeachment helping to galvanize GOP voters in these red states, a la what happened with the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation battle in 2018?
Is that why we’re seeing impeach/remove numbers go up among all Americans, but go down among Republicans?
Impeachment inquiry update
Get ready for the Volker and Sondland transcripts: House Intelligence Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff says the investigative committees today will release the deposition transcripts of Ambassadors Kurt Volker and Gordon Sondland, per NBC’s Geoff Bennett.
The news from yesterday’s released transcripts: “Marie Yovanovitch, the ousted U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, told House impeachment investigators last month that U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland told her she should tweet out support or praise for President Donald Trump if she wanted to save her job.”
The Supreme Court is unlikely to help Trump keep his tax returns from prosecutors
It’s going to be hard for the U.S. Supreme Court to stop prosecutors in New York from getting their hands on President Trump’s tax returns, per NBC’s Pete Williams.
“Past Supreme Court rulings have upheld subpoenas directed at presidents, and this time the local prosecutors are seeking documents from the Trump Organization and Trump's accountants — not directly from the president himself,” Williams writes.
“For those reasons, among others, the Supreme Court might simply decline to hear the president's appeal, which would leave the appeals court ruling intact and require the tax returns to be turned over.”
2020 Vision: Buttigieg is up with a new TV ad in Iowa
“Picture that first day the sun comes up in this country, and Donald Trump is no longer president of the United States,” the ad shows Buttigieg saying in his speech.
“The sun’s going to come up over a country even more divided and torn up over politics than we are today, with crises that still require urgent action.”
“I am running to be the president who will pick up the pieces of our divided nation and lead us toward real action.”
On the campaign trail today
Tulsi Gabbard stumps in New Hampshire.
Dispatches from NBC’s embeds
Andrew Yang held a rally in Northern Virginia, where he brought his “humanity first”-entitled platform to the way he discussed his opponents in the race, per NBC’s Jordan Jackson. When Yang was asked about Beto O’Rourke dropping out of the race, and if other competitors would follow suit, he said, “It is really jarring when someone drops out because when you're running for president you actually develop relationships with the other candidates. You're trapped in the same green room or the holding area or the union hall. And so you become friends with other candidates and then seeing them drop out actually is really sad,” Yang said. “Is it sad for me to see other candidates drop out and surprising? Yes, as a human being. It's surprising and sad.”
While in New Hampshire, Tulsi Gabbard said that one of her first acts as president, if elected, would be to declassify 9/11 documents, per NBC’s Julia Jester. “We all deserve the truth. This is about closure and it's about justice for those who are directly personally impacted by these terrorist attacks,” Gabbard said. “If this situation is not resolved, if I'm elected president, it's the first thing that I'll do.”
Tweet of the day
Data Download: The number of the day is … 7 points
That’s the advantage for Democrats on our generic congressional ballot question in the latest NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll.
The poll found that 49 percent of registered voters prefer a Congress controlled by Democrats after next year’s election, while 42 percent say they prefer a Congress controlled by Republicans.
The 7-point margin is the same as the advantage Democrats had on this question last October, shortly before a midterm election that saw the party making major gains in the House.
The Lid: Poll position
Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we ran through everything you need to know about the latest NBC/WSJ numbers.
ICYMI: News clips you shouldn’t miss
Warning of a Matt Bevin loss, Donald Trump told a Kentucky crowd “You can’t let that happen to me!”
A Steyer staffer is out after improperly downloading South Carolina volunteer information about Kamala Harris’s campaign.
Joe Biden talks a lot about Charlottesville on the campaign trail, but he hasn’t spent time there, writes Deepa Shivaram.
A new Washington Post-ABC poll finds Trump trailing Democrats by wide margins.
Trump Agenda: Lev me alone
Giuliani associate Lev Parnas is willing to talk to impeachment investigators, his lawyer says.
The Justice Department is digging into who “Anonymous” is.
Mike Pompeo is facing resistance from fed-up diplomats.
Trump is plugging his son’s book — even as he accuses Joe and Hunter Biden of self-dealing.
2020: So why don’t you slide…
POLITICO reports on Kamala Harris’s slide.
Is Sanders winning the Latino vote?
Here’s how opponents are going after Elizabeth Warren’s Medicare for All plan.
Julian Castro is laying off his team in New Hampshire and South Carolina.
And the Washington Post takes a look at how Buttigieg is trying to find middle ground between Biden and Warren.