This consequential midterm election could reshape Washington.
Democrats are eager to secure a foothold in the nation’s Republican-controlled Capitol, and are hoping anti-Donald Trump fervor drives a big blue wave.
The GOP, on the other hand, lucky to have a favorable map with many red-state Senate Democrats up for re-election this year, would love to expand its majorities, especially in that chamber.
Every House seat and a third of all senators are up for election. There are scores of new faces in the Democratic Party and a record number of open seats too, as many Republican lawmakers have called it quits.
There’s a lot to track, but these 18 races help paint a picture of the nation and the storylines and trends emerging from coast to coast.
A lively cast of characters and the center seat to the debate over immigration policy will keep the Arizona Senate race bustling through November.
Sen. Jeff Flake’s decision not to seek re-election opened up the seat — and Republican field — allowing the warring factions of the party to vie for the spot. The Democrats, led by Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, are hoping that their opponents’ infighting could lead them to help make the state a deeper shade of purple than it already is.
The Republican primary will not only be a competition of differing ideas on the border wall and immigration, but also show the competition between the candidates as they tout their respective ties to Trump. Kelli Ward, who unsuccessfully went up against Sen. John McCain in his 2016 re-election, had an early lead in the race that was helped by the backing of former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and financial support from conservative fundraiser Rebekah Mercer.
But two key opponents could threaten her hold on her base.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio threw his name in the race in January, months after being pardoned by Trump, and ex-fighter pilot Rep. Martha McSally flew into the competition touting her tendency for tough talk. While these three candidates are vying for the more conservative voters in the state, there are four others who will be nipping at their heels until the Aug. 28 primary. – MEGHAN KENEALLY
This year’s Indiana Senate race is sure to feature showdowns in the primary and general election cycles, putting Vice President Mike Pence’s home state in the spotlight for battles within his own party, as well as across the aisle.
The matchup is set in a state Trump won by nearly 20 points in 2016 — meaning incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly is looking at a tough race against a slew of Republicans eager to take his seat.
Indiana businessman Mike Braun launched into the field with the first ads of the election cycle. Candidates on the right also include House Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer, who are duking it out in an intraparty war marked with personal jabs.
Such heated exchanges set the stage well ahead of this year’s midterm cycle, meaning whichever Republican candidate comes out on top will have already fought hard just to get the party’s nomination.
As for the incumbent, Donnelly will have to fight a bitter battle to defend his seat at home and on a national level. While Donnelly aligns with Republicans on an issue like abortion, he has a target on his back for voting against tax reform that was painted on by the president himself during a tax event last fall in Indianapolis.
“If Senator Donnelly doesn’t approve it, because you know, he’s on the other side, we will come here. We will campaign against him like you wouldn’t believe,” Trump said at the time. – ALISA WIERSEMA
In Mississippi, Republicans are scrambling to maintain both of their U.S. Senate seats after Sen. Thad Cochran announced his retirement beginning April 1. Now, they look toward a November special election, strategizing on which of two nontraditional candidates they will rally behind to send to Washington.
Complicating the plan is the Magnolia State’s “jungle primary” format where candidates battle in an open election regardless of party affiliation. If one person is unable to win 50 percent of the vote, Mississippians will return to the polls once again three weeks later, deciding between the top two contenders.
Republican Chris McDaniel, a lawyer and former conservative talk-show host with a large social media presence, is working to fire up his conservative support base, after gaining wide recognition in a narrowly lost primary fight against Cochran in 2014.
The Tea Party candidate who originally declared his run against incumbent Sen. Roger Wicker is instead focusing on the special election. McDaniel’s path to Capitol Hill, however, is now seemingly more difficult after an early endorsement by political outsider Bannon. Despite Trump giving his early support for Wicker, McDaniel continues to align himself with the commander-in-chief’s political values.
Possibly standing in McDaniel’s way is Gov. Phil Bryant’s interim Senate pick: Cindy Hyde-Smith.
The beef-cattle farmer who served as Mississippi’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce since 2011, launched her fall campaign the same day as Bryant’s announcement. Hyde-Smith could make history if she were to become the first woman to represent Mississippi in U.S. history.
But one potential wrinkle for the longtime lawmaker is her political past.
The former state senator is also a former Democrat, switching to the Republican Party in 2010. And her past affiliation is already fuel to the fire for McDaniel, who immediately noted Hyde-Smith’s Democratic past after the governor announced his pick.
But, the Republicans will also have to wait and see who the Democrats bring to the table in the special election as they hope to have a similar outcome as their neighbors in Alabama this fall.
Former Washington insider Mike Espy told ABC News he has a “strong intention” to run for Cochran’s vacant seat. The attorney was elected as Mississippi’s first African-American Representative in U.S. Congress since the Reconstruction era. Espy additionally worked as the U.S. Agricultural Secretary during the Bill Clinton administration. – NIA PHILLIPS
Nevada is one of the few states where Democrats have a chance to pick up a senate seat in 2018. In fact, it’s the only state with a Republican senator up for re-election in a state won by Hillary Clinton. Nevada is a quintessential swing state; it has sided with the winner of the presidency for all but two elections in the last 100 years, voting for Gerald Ford in 1976 when Jimmy Carter was elected, and going for Hillary Clinton in 2016 when Trump was elected.
Incumbent Republican Dean Heller was appointed to the Senate by Gov. Brian Sandoval in 2011, and ran to keep the job one year later. Heller squeaked out a win, beating challenger Shelley Berkley by less than 12,000 votes statewide. Will a Republican who won by such a small margin be able to hold on if a blue wave sweeps across the United States this November?
Expect health care to play a major role in the Nevada election. Heller opposed a repeal of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement, but decided to support repeal after Trump suggested he was open to supporting another Republican in the Nevada Senate race. Immigration will play a major role in the race with Nevada’s large immigrant population, as well as gun rights following the Oct. 1 shooting in Las Vegas. – MATTHEW FUHRMAN
The Senate race in North Dakota between incumbent Democrat Heidi Heitkamp and at-large Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer is a toss-up.
Heitkamp is among the most vulnerable senators up for re-election in November. Trump won North Dakota in the 2016 presidential election by roughly 36 percentage points over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
This puts Heitkamp in a uniquely challenging place. She’ll have to peel off Republicans and Independent voters and keep her liberal, Democratic base happy at the same time.
She’s also running in a state where Trump remains fairly popular, and thus it works in her benefit to stay on friendly terms with the president.
She has voted in favor of almost all of Trump’s cabinet nominees. Last month she snagged a prime spot at the White House for a bill-signing event. And last year, she hitched a ride with the president on Air Force One to an event in North Dakota.
At one point, Trump told the crowd Heitkamp was a “good woman.”
But Heitkamp has her work cut out for her. She’s running against a highly popular candidate who has just as much name recognition as she does. – MARIAM KHAN
When Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., announced he would not seek re-election seven candidates — six Republicans and one Democrat — jumped in the race to replace him.
Corker’s retirement announcement has left the GOP defending a deep-red seat, which hasn’t been held by a Democrat since 1995. There’s a crowded field of Republicans vying for the Senate seat: Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Larry Crim, former Rep. Stephen Fincher, Steven Hughes, Aaron Pettigrew and Dr. Rolando Toyos.
Democrats got their top recruit in by coaxing former Gov. Phil Bredesen off the sidelines.
The race to replace Corker is important for Republicans; they need to keep it red as protection against losing a majority in the Senate. Meanwhile, Democrats are looking to become the majority party in the Senate and are looking to ride a wave of momentum after deep-red state Alabama elected a Democrat to the Senate in a strongly contested special election in December 2017. – CHRISTOPHER DONATO
California’s Orange County is at the epicenter of Democrats’ fight to take control of the House in November, and the 48th Congressional District is the heart of the traditionally Republican bastion in blue California.
The district, represented by Republican Dana Rohrabacher, is one of the 23 Republican-held districts that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and Democrats see it as a possible pickup opportunity in the general election as talk of a “blue wave” in Southern California intensified in neighboring districts.
Rohrabacher is seeking a 16th term in office — he’s been in Congress for three decades — but he is just out of his toughest primary yet, where 15 candidates aimed to unseat him and is far from having a tight grip on his seat.
Rohrabacher, a fixture of Republican politics — he was Ronald Reagan’s speechwriter — and generally a staunch supporter of Trump, is a controversial figure. His name has repeatedly surfaced in connection with the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and his ties and contacts with Russian nationals and operatives have come under intense scrutiny.
Democrat Harley Rouda narrowly won a spot on the ballot after a boost from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which endorsed him mere weeks before the primary.
The primary victory by Rouda, an ex-Republican business executive, over fellow Democrat Hans Keirstead, further put under scrutiny the role national organizations have in local races — evidence of party infighting as Democrats focus on flipping the House in November. – ESTHER CASTILLEJO
Iowa and politics go hand-in-hand, so it’s not a surprise that the race between Republican Rep. Rod Blum and Democratic State Rep. Abby Finkenauer for Iowa’s 1st Congressional District — which voted for Barack Obama twice, but Trump in 2016 — is gaining national attention.
Blum, a former software company entrepreneur, is a two-term congressman and a member of the House Freedom Caucus. A supporter of the president, he ran unopposed in the Republican primary.
Finkenauer, a two-term state representative, beat out three other Democratic challengers by a wide margin in the primary. She’s also picked up a number of big endorsements from NARAL Pro-Choice America and EMILY’s List, and could be another example of the “pink wave” sweeping the midterms.
A battle of the vice presidents is setting up as well with Pence visiting the district earlier this month to campaign for Blum and former Vice President Joe Biden having endorsed Finkenauer, who served as the volunteer coordinator in Iowa for his 2008 presidential campaign.
Blum has challenged Finkenauer to a series of 12 debates. In a statement to ABC News, Finkenauer said she “looks forward to debating the important issues at stake in this election” and “intend[s] to spend the coming weeks establishing a debate schedule that … gives voters the opportunity to hear from both candidates.” – MOLLY NAGLE
This fall, Republican incumbent Rep. Andy Barr will face Democrat Amy McGrath, a former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot, creating perhaps his most challenging defense of his seat since he took office in 2013 as Democrats search for a path to the House majority.
McGrath, who has never held political office, is the first female Marine to fly in an F/A-18 in combat, conducting 89 bombing runs over al Qaeda and the Taliban. She graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and served 20 years in the Marine Corps, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel.
McGrath rallied from a 47-point deficit to win her primary over Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and state Sen. Reggie Thomas. She gained national prominence after a biographical ad she ran last summer went viral.
Barr is a former congressional staffer and a lawyer by trade. He is currently serving in his third term in the House. – JOHN PARKINSON
In one of the most liberal districts in the country, a senior progressive lawmaker is facing a challenge from the left that has drawn national attention in the wake of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s shocking upset of Rep. Joe Crowley in New York City.
Rep. Mike Capuano of Massachusetts, a 10-term incumbent with a record of supporting Medicare-for-all and impeachment proceedings against Trump, will match up with Ayanna Pressley, who has served on the Boston City Council since 2010.
Pressley, is trying to position herself as a better fit for the Boston-area district than Capuano in a majority minority district where Pressley, an African-American woman, matches the demographics of the district more clearly than Capuano, a white male. She has oriented her campaign toward social issues in an effort to appeal to local voters’ attention to issues like immigration, education and economic justice.
But the two are quite similar ideologically. Capuano is an ardent progressive who supports a $15 minimum wage, gun control and Medicare-for-all, which Capuano even co-sponsored in the House as far back as 2005. Capuano has been considerably more active in his re-election bid than Crowley.
Pressley has tried to stake out other left-wing positions where she differs from Capuano, including abolishing ICE, and criticized Capuano for being insufficiently vocal on progressive causes, calling his left-leaning voting record “not exactly a profile in courage.” She has touted her support from Ocasio-Cortez, who Pressley calls a “sister in change” and who endorsed Pressley in a June tweet by saying, “vote for her next, Massachusetts.” – ROEY HADAR
The outcome in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District –- a classic swing seat that flips with virtually every political wave –- will determine where the small, yet powerful district stands looking into 2020.
If a Democrat maintains the seat, the party can maintain a momentum going into the next presidential election, but the National Republican Congressional Committee is targeting the district in this election in which Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter is not seeking re-election.
The 1st Congressional District covers the Greater Manchester, Seacoast and Lakes Region of New Hampshire, a predominantly white, middle-aged and middle-class population. Seven Democrats, three Republicans and one Libertarian are all vying to fill the seat.
A key issue for the candidates will be how they can address the opioid crisis that has become a national public health crisis. New Hampshire has begun to combat the problem with new laws, regulations and kits to avoid the rapidly increasing overdose deaths.
State Sen. Andy Sanborn has served in that legislative chamber since 2010 and has held a state Senate seat in multiple districts. Eddie Edwards sits on the board of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Hampshire and is the chairman of the governor’s Advisory Group on Juvenile Justice. State Rep. Mark MacKenzie is also focused on helping address the opioid crisis as well as jobs, infrastructure, affordable childcare and paid family leave. – DOMINICK PROTO
A New Jersey district that went for Trump in the 2016 election and was represented by the same Republican for more than two decades now offers a glimmer of hope for Democrats seeking to control the House in 2018.
That’s because New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District only went to Trump by about 1 percentage point in 2016, and its longstanding Republican congressman, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, is no longer seeking re-election. Come November, it’ll be an open seat race.
Enter Democrat Mikie Sherrill, a Navy veteran and former federal prosecutor running to upend GOP control of the district, and Republican Jay Webber, a state assemblyman and attorney running to maintain it.
Webber calls his Democratic opponent a “Nancy Pelosi pawn,” wedding her to the House minority leader, while Sherrill describes Webber as an establishment politician who backs the president.
Sherrill, a mother of four and former helicopter pilot for the U.S. Navy, has never run for elected office before. She joins the race as part of the many so-called “waves” crashing on the 2018 midterms — the record-breaking “pink wave” of female candidates — and has netted endorsements from EMILY’s List and Biden.
Webber, a father of seven, Harvard Law School graduate and conservative voice in the New Jersey state house, totes border security and lower taxes as his campaign platform. He was recently endorsed by hardline Republican Rep. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and in a recent campaign ad pledged a return to “Morning again in America,” a Reagan-era campaign slogan. – CHEYENNE HASLETT
Special elections have become prime opportunities for Democrats to target congressional seats in traditionally Republican-held districts and Ohio’s 12th Congressional District is no different.
After Rep. Pat Tiberi announced in October that he would not seek re-election after eight terms, Democrats immediately eyed the seat, and the August special election is now drawing comparisons to the Pennsylvania 18th Congressional District race, won by Democrat Conor Lamb in March.
Aiming to play the role of Lamb is Franklin County recorder Danny O’Connor, who is even younger than Lamb, at just 31 years old, and shares the congressman’s relative legislative inexperience. Ohio state Sen. Troy Balderson won the Republican primary, narrowly defeating Liberty Township trustee Melanie Leneghan by fewer than 1,000 votes, after she ran from his right with the support of the House Freedom Caucus.
Trump won the 12th District by over 11 points in 2016, trailing the popular Tiberi who retained his seat by 36 points.
Complicating matters is the special election’s spot on the calendar, less than 100 days before November’s general election. Both O’Connor and Balderson won their parties’ spots on the general election ballot the same day they captured their respective special election primary victories, meaning that no matter the winner in August, a rematch will occur just 91 days later. – ADAM KELSEY
Progressive energy is flowing deeply into the Houston suburbs, an area at the crossroads of immigration, changing demographics and hurricane reconstruction — and rising as a top target for Democrats in 2018.
Although a Republican has held the seat for 50 years, Hillary Clinton carried the district in the 2016 election -– a major shift after voting for Mitt Romney in 2012. The 7th Congressional District in Texas is predominately white, but about 31 percent identify as Hispanic.
Rep. John Culberson, who has represented the district since 2001, has spoken in support of Trump’s controversial travel ban calling it a “necessary pause in the refugee program” until adequate background checks are created. He also supports a bipartisan solution to the debate over the DACA program that is “compassionate” to those brought into the country illegally as children.
Immigration is a pressing issue in this district, but there is one name that is still on the forefront of voters’ minds: Harvey. Many families are still rebuilding after the hurricane devastated the area and elected officials are hoping Congress can pass more funding to help Texans rebuild.
Culberson’s challenger is lawyer Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, endorsed by EMILY’s List. – RACHEL SCOTT
Trump won West Virginia’s ruby-red 3rd District by a whopping 50 points in the 2016 election — but a tattooed, retired veteran who campaigns in his Army fatigues has the chance to turn the district blue.
Richard Ojeda, a state senator who gained national attention and became a local hero during the state’s teacher strikes, is running as a populist Democrat who can appeal to working-class voters in the heart of Trump country.
Taking on Ojeda is Republican delegate Carol Miller.
“I’m Pro-Life, Pro-Jobs, Pro-Coal, Pro-Second Amendment, and Pro-Trump, and I’m running to cut the bull out of politics!” Miller states on her website.
Ojeda admits he voted for Trump and likes the president’s mission to bring back coal jobs to West Virginia, but he also supports left-leaning policies like legalizing marijuana and a public option for health care.
The race between Ojeda and Miller recently became tight, and Democrats think they have a real shot at picking up a House seat in West Virginia. Still, even though Ojeda out-raised Miller in the second quarter, according to the Federal Election Commission, the GOP plans to spend big money to make sure the West Virginia 3rd District seat remains red. – MERIDITH MCGRAW
No state is likely as historically consequential in presidential elections as Florida — e.g., 2000 Bush vs. Gore — and we’ll likely be seeing the Sunshine State’s impact once again come 2018.
With Gov. Rick Scott unable to run again due to term limits, Florida voters from both major parties will have completely open primaries. Both parties can raise funds, but this year’s election might come down to who’s vouching for a candidate.
Republican front-runner, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, has already received the name recognition and financial boost any Trump loyalist could wish for with the president’s tweet celebrating his merits two weeks before DeSantis even announced he was running. But DeSantis is not short of challengers with former U.S. representative and current Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam running on the campaign slogan “Florida First.”
Florida Democrats are hoping to use the election as a referendum on Trump and highlight issues that have affected their state, like devastating hurricanes and economic development. Electing the first Democratic Floridian governor since 1994 wouldn’t hurt the national party either.
Among the Democratic candidates are two mayors: Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine. Then there’s the current Democratic front-runner, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham. She happens to be the daughter of Bob Graham, a former Florida governor and senator. – LISSETTE RODRIGUEZ
After leapfrogging his opponent and capturing the party’s nomination in the Republican runoff, Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp will face Democrat Stacey Abrams in a November gubernatorial general election that will test Georgia’s political identity.
Kemp, who is a white, small business owner, frames himself as the “politically incorrect” candidate who often caps off his eyebrow-raising comments with “Yep, I just said that.” The weight of the White House was behind Kemp, who more than made up the 13 points he trailed Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle in the first round of voting.
Abrams, an Ivy League-educated progressive black woman, attacked her primary opponents, who adjusted their message to appeal to the state’s conservative traditions.
If elected, she would be the first black female governor in the country; a remarkable feat in a state that typically runs deeply red. She’s drawn the outspoken support of Democratic heavyweights such as Sens. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders.
Democrats hope that Georgia, where the president defeated Hillary Clinton by 5 percentage points in 2016, can be propelled into a swing state by 2020. Republicans hope Abrams, who clings to down-the-line liberal policies, will prove unable to attract a growing swath of moderates. – JEFFREY COOK
Brian Kemp: Georgia secretary of state | Age: 55 (Nov. 2, 1963)
Stacey Abrams: Former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives | Age: 44 (Dec. 9, 1973)
In 2016, Michigan embraced the populist outsiders. Sanders scored an unlikely upset in the state during the Democratic primaries and Trump flipped the key Rust Belt state red at the presidential level for the first time since 1988.
Those same national dynamics are set to collide with some distinctly local ones in 2018. Republicans have held the governor’s mansion in Michigan for the last eight years, and the party knows that the legacy of two-term incumbent Gov. Rick Snyder is on the line this year.
The state’s unemployment rate has steadily declined since it was devastated during the 2008 financial crisis, but episodes like the Flint water crisis have fueled the economic and social anxiety that continues to linger through the first year of the Trump presidency. Jobs, taxes, immigration and infrastructure promise to be front and center in the race to succeed Snyder, and the primaries on both sides of the aisle have already begun to take shape in the race to succeed Snyder.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, already elected statewide twice as the state’s top cop and endorsed by Trump last September, has jumped out to an early lead on the Republican side, but is still facing competition from Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, another winner of two statewide elections under Snyder, and state Sen. Patrick Colbeck.
Democrats have begun to coalesce around former Michigan state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, who has nabbed a few key early endorsements and has generated impressive initial fundraising numbers. Whitmer’s main primary challengers, former Detroit health director Dr. Abdul El-Sayed and businessman Shri Thandear, are hoping to capitalize on the state and party’s thirst for a populist outsider, and are attempting to paint her as a party insider that lacks progressive credentials. – JOHN VERHOVEK
Brian Calley: Lieutenant governor of Michigan | Age: 40 (Mar. 25, 1977)
Patrick Colbeck: Michigan state senator | Age: 52 (Oct. 7, 1965)
Bill Schuette: Attorney general of Michigan, former U.S. representative | Age: 64 (Oct. 8, 1953)
Jim Hines: Physician | Age: 63 (June 14, 1955)
Bill Cobbs: Former Xerox Corporation executive | Age: 65 (Nov. 11, 1953)
Abdul El-Sayed: Physician, former Detroit health director | Age: 33 (Oct. 31, 1984)
Shri Thanedar: Author and entrepreneur | Age: 62 (Feb. 22, 1955)
Gretchen Whitmer: Former Ingham County prosecutor, Michigan state senate minority leader | Age: 46 (Aug. 23, 1971)
18 For 18’ is ABC News’ powerhouse political coverage of the 2018 midterm elections. To stay up to date, visit ABCNews.com and the ABC News app, and follow our midterm elections alerts.