Mid-term elections 2018: Trump makes final bid for votes

President Trump at a rally in IndianaImage copyrightGetty Images
Image caption President Trump held rallies in Ohio, Indiana and Missouri the day before the vote

US President Donald Trump has made a last bid for voters to back the Republican party on the eve of a nationwide election that is seen as a referendum on his presidency.

“Everything we have achieved is at stake tomorrow,” he said during a blitz of three final rallies.

The mid-term elections come half way through his four years in office, and will determine how effectively he can govern for the next two years.

Voter turnout is expected to be high.

At stake are 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.

In recent days, the president has ratcheted up rhetoric on divisive issues in a bid to energise his base.

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?

The mid-term elections will decide which party will control the two houses of Congress, which decides federal legislation.

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.

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But if the Democrats wrest control of one or both chambers, they could stymie or even reverse Mr Trump’s plans.

Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption Former President Barack Obama has said the vote on Tuesday could be “the most important of our lifetimes”

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?

Analysis by Jon Sopel, BBC North America Editor

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.

Read the rest of Jon’s analysis here.


What happens on election day?

After months of campaigning, speculation, and billions of dollars spent on adverts, leaflets and bumper stickers, voters will have their final say on Tuesday.

Image copyrightAFP
Image caption People have been voting early both in person and by post

Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives have raised $649m (£500m) from individual donors, more than double the $312m tally for the Republicans.

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Democrats are hoping to achieve a “mid-term wave” – a sweeping victory that changes the shape of the political map in the US.

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.

The first polls close at 18:00 EST (23:00 GMT).


What you need to know about mid-terms:


What are the key issues?

During his final campaign rallies in Ohio, Indiana and Missouri, Mr Trump returned to his key campaign issues, insisting that Democrats would damage the economy and allow more illegal immigration.

Democratic candidates, meanwhile, have tended to avoid directly confronting the president, focusing instead on so-called “kitchen table” issues, such as healthcare and economic inequality.

The party hopes younger voters, suburban moderates and minorities will be drawn to the polls to react against the president’s rhetoric.

Mr Trump has faced widespread criticism for his divisive language.

On Monday, Facebook, NBC and even Mr Trump’s favourite network, Fox News, announced they would stop broadcasting a 30-second ad paid for by his campaign, which featured an undocumented Mexican immigrant.

In an interview with ABC on Monday, the president said he wished he had taken “a much softer tone” throughout his presidency.

“I feel, to a certain extent, I have no choice, but maybe I do, and maybe I could have been softer from that standpoint.”

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