Here’s what we’re tracking on Election Day.

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The Changing Map

Surf’s up, suburbs: The current political geography of the United States was forged eight years ago, when Republicans won control of the House of Representatives in a landslide election. That created a new normal of Republican dominance of rural districts, while the Democrats became even more of an urban party. This year, Democrats have the opportunity to disrupt the map again, not by taking back rural districts, but by sweeping a blue wave through the suburbs.

Currently, FiveThirtyEight projects Democrats will pick up just five of 149 predominantly rural Republican seats versus 21 extra predominantly suburban seats, as categorized by CityLab’s Congressional Density Index. The end result would be a Democratic House majority with a very suburban feel to it. Before 2010, the Democratic caucus was about equally divided between rural, suburban, and urban members. The 2018 version, as projected right now, will likely be more than half suburban, and only 15 percent rural.

Where to look for a suburban wave: FiveThirtyEight gives Democrats at least a 50.1 percent chance of picking up these seats, categorized here based on the CityLab Congressional Density Index:

CityLab data visualization journalist David Montgomery reports on how the urban-rural divide shaped the modern Congress—and what could happen tonight.

More on CityLab


What’s at Stake

Safety net: Ask voters what they care about this election and they’ll tell you: health care. And the future of the safety net is in their hands. Voters in Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah will decide on whether to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Food assistance is also in play this election, with the next Congress turning to pass the stalled farm bill, where the White House and Republicans want to impose work requirements for recipients of food aid under SNAP. From CityLab’s Kriston Capps: The Midterm Election Is a Referendum on the Social Safety Net

Transit: You’ve read up on California’s fight over repealing its gas tax that’s on the ballot today. But there’s also statewide initiatives in Colorado, Connecticut, and Maine for funding transportation projects, as well as local votes on a $16 million multimodal improvement plan in Austin, Texas, and a $16 billion program for roads, buses, and light rail in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Yonah Freemark at The Transport Politic has a running list of all the local tax and bond initiatives and key gubernatorial races tonight that affect state transportation policies.

Housing: Referenda-happy California votes on its biggest challenges of affordable housing and homelessness, and CityLab’s Sarah Holder rounded up this year’s statewide and local ballot measures on bonds, taxes, and rent control. San Francisco’s Prop C has seen some of the city’s tech titans bankrolling campaigns for and against a new tax to fight homelessness.

Immigration: Many places today will decide the fate of local cooperation with Trump’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In Florida, New York, North Carolina, and Maryland, ICE and the administration’s “anti-sanctuary city” have factored into sheriffs’ and other local races. Meanwhile, Oregon’s 30-year-old “sanctuary” law is under threat of repeal by referendum: Where Immigration Enforcement Is on the Local Ballot


What Team CityLab Is Watching Tonight

We’ve all got our popcorn ready to watch tonight’s election returns. So we asked CityLab’s editors and writers: What are you watching for tonight?

Nicole Flatow, editor: I’ll be watching who turns out to vote —and who has trouble getting access.

Brentin Mock, staff writer: Will wealthy white residents vote to secede from Stockbridge, Georgia?

Amanda Kolson Hurley, senior editor: A county-executive race in Montgomery County, Maryland, has divided urbanists.

Sarah Holder, staff writer: Teachers are running for governor in Arizona, Minnesota, and Oklahoma after teachers strikes rippled across the country.

Kriston Capps, staff writer: Ballot measures in Michigan, Utah, Missouri, and Colorado could end gerrymandering ahead of the next redistricting process.

Andrew Small, newsletter writer: How will Pennsylvania’s newly redistricted map change the balance of power in the infamously gerrymandered state?

Laura Bliss, staff writer: With little federal support for transportation infrastructure, how much are state and local voters willing to tax themselves?

Linda Poon, assistant editor: A ballot measure could bring same-day voter registration to Maryland.

Nicole Javorsky, editorial fellow: Will Brooksville, Florida; and Houston, Missouri; vote to ban fluoride in their water supply? (And will Springfield, Ohio, vote to add it?)

David Dudley, executive editor: Baltimore voters decide whether to pull the plug on water privatization, forever.

Karim Doumar, editorial fellow: California voters could open the door to more rent control.

This is just a sliver of the many, many decisions being made across the country today. Let us know what issues you’re following most closely, and what the results mean for your hometown: hello@citylab.com


The CityLab Daily is written by Andrew Small. Like what you see here? Forward this newsletter to someone who loves cities and encourage them to subscribe.

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