The Expectations And Worries Of Both Parties This Election Day
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
People across the country are turning out to vote today in number that could end up being historic for a midterm election. And a lot is on the line - the vast majority of governorships, state legislatures and control of Congress. NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson will be with us all night as the results come in. She joins us now to kick off our Election Day coverage. Hey there, Mara.
MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi, Audie.
CORNISH: So the president spoke yesterday about how midterms used to be boring, but this is, quote, "the hottest thing." Does he have a point?
LIASSON: He does, actually. I think we are on track, according to our own Domenico Montanaro, to maybe have the highest midterm turnout since 1966. And I think the president can take some credit and blame for that. In 2016, he got more white, working-class people to come out and vote than many analysts thought possible. And now his leadership style and his divisive rhetoric have caused a huge counterreaction. So Democratic turnout is out. So, yes, the midterms have become hotter, and Donald Trump can take some of the credit or blame.
CORNISH: Let's talk a little bit about Democrats, then, because they would be perhaps the most nervous - right? - and most hopeful about tonight. What would success look like for them?
LIASSON: I think success for Democrats is taking back the House, making significant gains in governors' races and legislative races around the country and limiting their losses in the Senate.
CORNISH: And for Republicans - I mean, people have talked about this being a referendum on the president.
LIASSON: I think success for the Republicans would be picking up more than net-two seats in the Senate, holding the line in governors' races and state legislative races and limiting their losses in the House, maybe holding the net pickups to under 30 or at least keeping the majority. And don't forget that Republicans have more seats right now nationwide than they've ever had since the 1920s. So they really are at their zenith. They really have nowhere to go but down.
CORNISH: Can you talk more about what it does mean for each side if they fall short?
LIASSON: Well, for Democrats, if they fall short, they're shut out across the board again. They're in the wilderness. They will have no say in the redistricting process that happens after the 2020 census in the states. I think they will form a big, ugly, circular firing squad. Although, one Democrat said to me even if they win, they'll form a circular firing squad.
I think for Republicans, it means their legislative agenda grinds to a halt. Of course, if they keep the Senate, they can still confirm judges. And for the president, I think the biggest change if he loses is that legislation ends. Oversight begins. Subpoenas start coming to the White House. Maybe the Democrats try to impeach him. I don't know if the White House is quite ready for all of those investigations. And even more than that, he will have lost. No matter how he spins it, he embraced the election as a referendum on him. And tonight, people are either going to validate his leadership or decide they want a check and balance on it.
CORNISH: That's what's at stake. Do we know what the expectations are? Has the White House talked about - I guess talked a game about what they hope to hear tonight?
LIASSON: Well, the president has been - said a lot of things about what he expects. He says there's a lot of electricity, big crowds at his rallies. He thinks he's going - they're going to do great in the Senate. And he even thinks they're going to do good in the House. Although, he has publicly entertained the notion that they might lose the House.
What I am told is that the president feels good about what he's done. He did 30 rallies - 11 for the House, 19 for Senate and gubernatorial candidates. He feels he didn't leave anything on the field. He's not a regrets kind of guy. Although, he did say, in an interview with Sinclair Broadcasting, that maybe he could have used a softer tone. He said, quote, "that would be something I'll be working on." But what I'm told is, so far, there are no plans for a press conference tomorrow, which is often traditional after a midterm. But that could change.
CORNISH: That's NPR's Mara Liasson. We'll hear more from her later. Thanks so much, Mara.
LIASSON: Thank you.
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