New York (November 06, 2018): Americans have begun voting in nationwide elections that are being seen as a referendum on Donald Trump’s presidency.
Polling stations opened on the East Coast amid a battle by both Republicans and Democrats to take control of the two houses of Congress.
Governor posts and seats in state legislatures are also up for grabs.
The mid-term elections come half way through Mr Trump’s four years in office and follow a divisive campaign.
Polls opened first in the East Coast states of Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Virginia.
Mr Trump attended three rallies on the final day of campaigning, telling his supporters: “Everything we have achieved is at stake tomorrow.”
In the first district of Pennsylvania – a Republican seat the Democrats are trying to flip – they haven’t seen lines like this since 2008. Big early turnout #MidtermElections2018 @BBCWorld pic.twitter.com/fQTVz6XtfZ
— Nick Bryant (@NickBryantNY) November 6, 2018
Barack Obama – on the campaign trail for the Democratic party – said “the character of our country is on the ballot”. The former president tweeted the vote “might be the most important of our lifetimes”.
What is at stake?
Americans are voting for all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 of 100 seats in the Senate – the two bodies that make up Congress. Governors are also being chosen in 36 out of 50 states.
If Republicans maintain their hold on both the Senate and the House of Representatives, they could build on their agenda and that of President Trump.
But if the Democrats wrest control of one or both chambers, they could stymie or even reverse Mr Trump’s plans.
Pollsters suggest Democrats may win the 23 seats they need to take over the House of Representatives, and possibly 15 or so extra seats.However, the Democrats are expected to fall short of the two seats they need to win control of the Senate.
Trump’s invincible, but for how much longer?
Presidents have always commanded attention. Theodore Roosevelt called the White House his “bully pulpit” – the place from which he could demand attention and advance his agenda.
But Donald Trump has his own bully pulpit, 55 million Twitter followers and a penchant for saying the outrageous.
You feel that everything in American life is a reaction to what Donald Trump has said: his followers adoring it, his opponents deploring it and the candidates actually on the ballot trying to get a word in edgeways.
And this has generated real excitement in these elections – both for and against him.What happens on election day?
After months of campaigning, speculation, and billions of dollars spent on adverts, leaflets and bumper stickers, voters finally have their say.
Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives have raised $649m (£500m) from individual donors, more than double the $312m tally for the Republicans.
Democrats are hoping to achieve a “mid-term wave” – a sweeping victory that changes the shape of the political map in the US.
Hour-by-hour guide to election night
Should Trump be worried?Some 34.3 million people have cast early ballots and the real number is probably higher, according to the US Elections Project, a University of Florida-based information source. That figure in 2014 was just 27.5 million.
In Texas, early voting has exceeded the entire turnout in 2014.
However, thunderstorms are forecast for Tuesday along the eastern coast, as well as snowstorms in the Midwest, which could affect turnout.