UPDATE AT 11:30PM EST: President Donald Trump has tweeted "Tremendous success tonight. Thank you to all!" despite the Democrats seizing control of the House. He is now likely to face significant bottlenecks to his legislative agenda over the next two years.

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on November 7, 2018

UPDATE AT 10.45PM EST: The Senate has now been called for the Republicans. In the House race, the Democrats have gained 14 seats and are prohibitive favourites to win control.

Ted Cruz has prevailed in the Texas Senate race.

In Florida, Andrew Gillum has fallen short in his bid to become the first African-American to be Governor. Republican Ron DeSantis has won a narrow victory in the state.

Election day updates

UPDATE AT 10PM EST: Despite a number of close races, Democrats remain poised to take control of the House in these elections. As expected, the Republicans will almost certainly retain control of the Senate.

One of the most closely-watched races is taking place in Texas where Democrat challenger Beto O’Rourke is ahead of Ted Cruz. The result would be a boilover of historic proportions.

UPDATE: As of 8.30 PM EST, Republicans have made gains in the House race. Election analyst Nathaniel Rakich noted, however, that a number of likely Republican districts, including those in the swing state Florida, are now confirmed as Republican victories but the Democrats have not had the chance to claim likely districts of their own.

UPDATE: At time of writing, FiveThirtyEight has adjusted its predictions to give the Democrats an 86.3% chance of winning control of the House. The site now places the likelihood of the Republicans retaining Senate control at 90.2%.

Polling has now closed in 15 states, along with most of Florida, Kansas, Michigan, Texas and large parts of South Dakota. Early results are consistent with projections of a Democratic takeover of the House.

15 House races have been called so far but all of these have been expected victories for the incumbent party.

In Georgia, the closing times for polling booths were pushed back after widespread technical issues led to long lines at voting locations.

Republicans outwardly optimistic but privately “assuming the crash position”

Early exit polls showed 56% of respondents thought the US was heading in the wrong direction and 55% disapproved of Trump.

Steve Stivers, the National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman, forecast a “slim majority” in an email to staff. Stivers’ view has not been reflected in any exit polling so far.

The White House was also taking an optimistic stance despite exit polling. “The President’s message on immigration is resonating and as we saw in 2016 I don’t think the polls reflect that,” one White House staffer said.

The insider also said the President was “laying low now and watching tv like the rest of us.”

Behind the scenes, Republican powerbrokers are reportedly “assuming the crash position” as they prepare to lose control of the House.

Interest in the elections has been intense across a highly polarised voting base. The Kavanaugh hearings became a major political dividing line and some analysts have suggested it energised the Republican bloc.

This election also shows the changing demographics in US politics; it marks the first time that white men make up a minority of Democratic party candidates.

Early voter numbers way up on last US mid-term election

36 million US voters have cast their ballots early this year, up from 27.2 million just four years ago.

In Arizona, Nevada and Texas, the number of early voters has already eclipsed total turnout in the 2014 mid-term elections. More states are only slightly behind their 2014 numbers for total turnout based solely on early voting.

Trump has campaigned hard over the last few weeks and has stressed to his support base that the elections may not decide his immediate political future but that they will have major implications for how he can govern.

Staffers at Fox News were unhappy to find that colleague Sean Hannity appeared with Trump onstage in Missouri on election eve, eroding any notion that he was an objective journalist covering the race rather than an open Trump supporter.

“People throughout the company think a new line was crossed,” one senior Fox News employee told CNN Business.

“We were all told that Hannity was going to interview the president, but no one that I spoke with expected what happened last night,” said another person within Fox News. “I’m aghast as are a number of other people.”

Fake news accounts still interfering in the elections

The day before the election, Facebook removed 30 accounts from Facebook and 85 from Instagram after it found they were engaging in inauthentic behaviour in an attempt to influence the mid-term elections.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s Head of Cybersecurity Policy, said law enforcement bodies had tipped the social media giant off about the suspicious accounts, which may be operated by foreign entities.

“Typically, we would be further along with our analysis before announcing anything publicly,” Gleicher wrote. “But given that we are only one day away from important elections in the US, we wanted to let people know about the action we’ve taken and the facts as we know them today.”