By Joshua Jamerson and Danny Dougherty, The Wall Street Journal
As voters head to the polls in the 2018 midterm elections Tuesday, a string of East Coast races could be early indicators on which party will win the battle for control of the U.S. House, while the fight for the U.S. Senate runs through a slate of tossup states that are in later time zones. Here’s your guide to watching the results roll in on Election Day, based on East Coast times.
6 p.m. Eastern
Kentucky: The first polls to close are in Kentucky. The key race to watch: the state’s sixth congressional district in Lexington. The seat is currently held by Republican Rep. Andy Barr, who represents an area where the GOP typically does well, but he is facing a well-financed opponent in retired Marine pilot Amy McGrath, a Democrat.
7 p.m. Eastern
Polls start to close in four key states: Virginia, Georgia, Indiana and Florida. Polls also close in South Carolina.
Florida: Democrat Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, has attracted a grassroots following of young people and minorities. The party hopes Mr. Gillum’s campaign for governor against the GOP’s Ron DeSantis can bring more Democrats to the polls, all the while lifting the fortunes of incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, who is being challenged for his Senate seat by outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
On the House side, the four most competitive races to watch are all prime pick opportunities for the Democrats: FL-26 and FL-27, two GOP-held districts that encompass part of the Miami-Dade region; FL-15 outside Tampa; and FL-16 in Sarasota County.
Indiana: Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly, one of the party’s most vulnerable incumbents, is being challenged by businessman Mike Braun. Republicans are looking to capture this seat to expand their 51-49 Senate majority or to create a buffer to offset loses elsewhere.
Georgia: The governor’s race between progressive former state lawmaker Stacey Abrams and Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican, is one of the most watched in the country. She could make history by becoming the first black female governor in the U.S.
There are also two key House races to watch: Georgia’s sixth congressional district, home of a special election last year that launched this year’s fierce fight for control of the chamber, where Rep. Karen Handel is facing Democrat Lucy McBath. The race illustrates how both parties this year have battled over suburban, educated women. The other is Georgia’s seventh congressional district, where GOP Rep. Rob Woodall faces a tight race with Democratic challenger Carolyn Bourdeaux.
Virginia: There are several opportunities for House Democrats to pick up seats. Rep. Barbara Comstock, an incumbent in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, is considered among the most vulnerable Republicans as she squares off against Democrat Jennifer Wexton.
A more significant bellwether could be in Virginia’s second congressional district, where GOP Rep. Scott Taylor faces a stiff challenge from Democratic businesswoman Elaine Luria. And Republican Rep. Dave Brat, who ousted Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a 2014 primary, is now in danger of losing his seat to Democrat Abigail Spanberger.
7:30 p.m. Eastern
Polls start to close in three states: North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia.
Ohio: The governor’s race in Ohio is nationally watched because 2016 GOP presidential candidate John Kasich is leaving the governor’s mansion due to term limits. Republican Mike DeWine faces Democrat Richard Cordray in the race to follow Mr. Kasich.
A rematch in Ohio’s 12th congressional district in suburban Columbus could also be telling. Rep. Troy Balderson won a special election there this year—but just barely beating Democrat Danny O’Connor—signaling the GOP’s weakening grip in suburbia.
West Virginia: Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s state voted for President Trump in 2016 by 42 percentage points. Yet, Mr. Manchin is leading attorney general Patrick Morrisey in public polling, and a victory would demonstrate that a candidate’s personal brand can outweigh party affiliation.
What to Watch: 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.
8 p.m. Eastern
Polls start to close in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.
Kansas: The governor’s race is a tossup, and there are two potential House upsets. GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder’s seat in the third House district is at risk of falling into the Democratic column, as the race now leans in favor of challenger Sharice Davids. There is also a tossup race for an open seat in the state’s second congressional district, where Rep. Lynn Jenkins, a Republican, is retiring.
Michigan: GOP Rep. Mike Bishop, whose eighth district includes a swath of the Detroit suburbs, faces a tough challenger in Elissa Slotkin, a former CIA case officer, creating a key pick-up opportunity for Democrats.
Mississippi: There are two Senate races in the state, but one of them is unlikely to be decided Tuesday night. That’s because GOP Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith isn’t the only Republican vying for the seat: Republican Chris McDaniel is running against her, as is Democrat Mike Espy, creating a three-way race. The top two vote-getters advance to a Nov. 27 runoff if none of them can claim an outright majority of the vote on Election Day, under Mississippi election rules.
Missouri: Sen. Claire McCaskill is another endangered Democrat in the Senate. She faces state Attorney General Josh Hawley. President Trump made two trips to the state in the final days to try to knock off Ms. McCaskill.
New Jersey: Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, plagued by questions over his ethics despite escaping conviction in a corruption trial last year, is unpopular in a state that leans Democratic. He faces GOP businessman Bob Hugin. If Republicans can defeat Mr. Menendez, it would bode well for their ability to maintain control of the Senate.
Pennsylvania: There are four competitive U.S. House races in Pennsylvania, all of them pick-up opportunities for the Democrats, and they are looking here to make a strong down payment on their path toward a majority. Republicans have called this “ground zero” in the battle for House control. Several districts moved further out of reach for Republicans due to court-issued redistricting in the state.
Tennessee: The open Senate seat in Tennessee—Republican Sen. Bob Corker is retiring—is critical to Democrats if they have any hope of gaining ground in the chamber. Former Gov. Phil Bredesen, who was endorsed by singer Taylor Swift, is challenging Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who benefited from a Trump endorsement.
Texas: Can Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke topple GOP Sen. Ted Cruz in a deep-red state? It would be one of the biggest political upsets in the history of the Senate, and a signal that the Lone Star state could be in play during the 2020 presidential race.
Also in Texas, Democrats are targeting Republican Reps. Pete Sessions in a district outside Dallas and John Culberson of Houston, both in tossup races. A defeat of Rep. Will Hurd, who is facing Democrat Gina Ortiz-Jones, would signal a difficult night for Republicans.
What to Watch: 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.
9 p.m. Eastern
Officials start counting ballots in Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York and Wisconsin.
Arizona: An open Senate seat creates a rare opening for Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema to gain a seat for her party, but her fight against Rep. Martha McSally has been extremely tight. The seat is open because Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican, is retiring.
Minnesota: Four races in Minnesota are a bellwether for control of the House. Both parties agree that if Democrats win in three of these four districts, it would be a bad sign for the GOP elsewhere in the country. The four races are:
MN-01: Democrats currently hold this seat in rural Minnesota. If they can hang on, it may mean they are faring better in rural areas than they often get credit for. Democrat Dan Feehan faces Republican Jim Hagedorn in that open-seat race.
MN-02: GOP Rep. Jason Lewis faces a stiff challenge from Democrat Angie Craig in outskirts of the Twin Cities.
MN-03: Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen faces Democrat Dean Phillips, presenting another test for the GOP in the suburbs.
MN-08: This is a seat the GOP is supposed to flip and create a small buffer against any other losses. Republican Pete Stauber is matched up with Democrat Joe Radinovich.
What to Watch: 10 p.m. and Later
10 p.m. Eastern
Polls start to close in Iowa, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Utah.
Nevada, Montana, North Dakota: These three states will likely determine control of the Senate. Democratic Sens. Jon Tester of Montana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota are hoping to win in states President Trump took in 2016. Mr. Tester’s race is a tossup against Republican Matt Rosendale; Ms. Heitkamp’s race is leaning in favor of her Republican opponent, Rep. Kevin Cramer.
In Nevada, Republican Sen. Dean Heller, the chamber’s most vulnerable GOP incumbent, battles Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen.
11 p.m. Eastern
Polls start to close in California, Oregon and Washington state. Oregon and Washington have all-mail voting, but ballots can be turned in as late as 8 p.m. local time; that’s 11 p.m. on the East Coast. The races to watch:
California: If the battle for the U.S. House isn’t determined by 11 p.m. when polls close in California, there are seven competitive seats here that could settle the outcome:
CA-10 (tossup): GOP Rep. Jeff Denham faces Democrat Josh Harder.
CA-25 (tossup): GOP Rep. Steve Knight faces Democrat Katie Hill.
CA-39 (tossup): In a race for an open GOP seat, Republican Young Kim is being challenged by Democrat Gil Cisneros.
CA-45 (tossup): GOP Rep. Mimi Walters is up against Democrat Katie Porter.
CA-48 (tossup): GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher faces Democratic businessman Harley Rouda.
CA-49 (leaning Democratic): Democratic lawyer Mike Levin is leading Republican Diane Harkey in polls.
CA-50 (leaning Republican): GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter faces Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar.
Oregon: Oregon may elect a GOP governor for the first time in 36 years. Republican Knute Buehler is campaigning for voters unhappy with Democratic Gov. Kate Brown—and President Trump. Mr. Buehler said he wrote in Ohio’s moderate Republican Gov. Kasich in the 2016 presidential election rather than back Mr. Trump.
Washington: The state’s southwestern corner has seen an influx of nearly $2 million in new spending from both parties, indicating that the seat held for four terms by GOP Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler is in jeopardy. Her opponent is Democrat Carolyn Long.
12 a.m. Eastern
Polls close in Alaska.
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, an independent, suspended his re-election bid less than three weeks before the election. The move came three days after the sudden resignation of Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott over what Mr. Walker described as an inappropriate overture toward a woman. The three-way governor’s race is leaning in favor of Republican candidate Mike Dunleavy over Democrat Mark Begich but after such a recent scandal, the outcome is hard to call.