05/12/2022

Live updates: Virginia House races could offer early clues for how GOP will fare in 2022 midterm elections

How social media platforms plan to fight Election Day misinformation

Rafael Henrique | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Social media platforms including Meta’s Facebook and Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Google’s YouTube are readying themselves for another heated Election Day this week.

The companies now regularly come under close scrutiny around election time, something that accelerated following findings that Russian agents used social media to sow division in the run-up to the 2016 election. During the last presidential election in 2020, the platforms faced the challenge of moderating election denialism as an outgoing president stoked the false claims himself, leading several of them to at least temporarily suspend him after the Jan. 6 insurrection.

This year, the platforms are using all of those experiences to prepare for threats to democracy and safety as voters decide who will represent them in Congress, governor’s offices and state legislatures.

— Lauren Feiner

Russian billionaire admits to interfering in U.S. elections

Yevgeny Prigozhin controls Concord Management and Consulting LLC.

Alexander Zemlianichenko | AP

Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin said he interfered in past U.S. elections and would continue doing so in the future, the first such admission from a figure who has been formally implicated by Washington in efforts to influence American politics.

In comments posted by the press service of his Concord catering firm on Russia’s Facebook equivalent VKontakte, Prigozhin said: “We have interfered (in U.S. elections), we are interfering and we will continue to interfere. Carefully, accurately, surgically and in our own way, as we know how to do.”

The remark was posted on the eve of the U.S. midterm elections in response to a request for comment from a Russian news site.

“During our pinpoint operations, we will remove both kidneys and the liver at once,” Prigozhin said. He did not elaborate on the cryptic comment.

Prigozhin, who is often referred to as “Putin’s chef” because his catering company operates Kremlin contracts, has been formally accused of sponsoring Russia-based “troll farms” that seek to influence U.S. politics.

— Reuters

Virginia could offer Tuesday’s first hint at how Republicans might perform nationwide

State Senator Jennifer Wexton, a Democrat from Virginia and U.S. Representative candidate, greets attendees during a campaign rally in Manassas, Virginia, U.S., on Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018. 

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

One of the first states to close its polls Tuesday night will be Virginia, where voting ends at 7 p.m. ET. For those watching election results at home, there are three House races in the commonwealth whose outcomes could offer clues as to how Republicans will fare nationwide in their quest to win a big majority in the House.

All three races feature female Democratic incumbents locked in tight contests against relatively moderate Republican challengers, two of them women.

In Virginia’s 2nd District, which includes Virginia Beach, Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria is seen as particularly vulnerable in her race against state Sen. Jen Kiggans.

In the 7th District, which includes Washington D.C.’s most outer suburbs and two rural counties, former CIA agent turned Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger is facing Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega, a former police officer. Crime and abortion have dominated the airwaves in the campaign.

Further north, in the most affluent and well educated part of the state just outside D.C., Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton is defending her seat against Hung Cao, a Navy veteran, in the 10th District. President Joe Biden won Wexton’s district by double digits in 2020.

— Christina Wilkie

Here’s when Election Day polls close in each state

A sign is seen as voters line up for the U.S. Senate run-off election, at a polling location in Marietta, Georgia, January 5, 2021.

Mike Segar | Reuters

Every state runs its own elections, which means poll closing times vary significantly on Election Day. Below is a list of when polling places close in each state.

Schedules are organized by state, not by time zone. So for example, while half of Kentucky is the Eastern time zone and the other half of it is Central time, polls will close at 6 p.m. ET across the state, so it’s listed under 6 p.m.

This is not an official list and some counties keep polls open longer to accommodate heavy turnout, so please check with your local election board to determine when your own polls close.

6 p.m.

Kentucky and Indiana

7 p.m.

Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming

7:30 p.m.

Arkansas, North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia.

8 p.m.

Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington, D.C., Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

9 p.m.

New York

NOTE: New Hampshire closing times vary county by county, but none is earlier than 7 p.m. Tennessee also varies, as does North Dakota, where polls close between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Christina Wilkie

Abortion rights are on the ballot in these states. Here’s what you need to know

A billboard against Proposal 3, a ballot measure which would codify the right to an abortion, is seen along I-75 outside of Detroit, Michigan, U.S., November 6, 2022. 

Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

Voters in California, Kentucky, Michigan and Vermont will decide during the midterm elections whether abortion is protected under their state constitutions.

But Michigan and Kentucky are shaping up as the two biggest battlegrounds on abortion in the midterms. Michigan is poised to become a safe haven of constitutionally protected abortion rights in the Midwest, where access is shrinking.

Kentucky, on the other hand, is set to entrench its abortion ban unless reproductive rights activists pull off an upset victory in the conservative Southern state.

— Spencer Kimball

Five states will decide whether to legalize recreational marijuana

Members of the DC Marijuana Justice community hold a 51 blow-up joint on the National Mall ahead of President Joe Bidens address to a joint session of Congress to call on the administration to take action on legalization and expungement of criminal records on Wednesday, April 28, 2021.

Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

Voters in a handful of states – including four that traditionally favor Republicans – are set to decide Tuesday whether to legalize recreational marijuana, paving the way for its sale and cultivation in newly regulated markets across the country.

Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota could join 19 other states and the District of Columbia, which have already legalized recreational marijuana. The votes come about a month after President Joe Biden urged state and local officials to follow his lead in pardoning those convicted on prior federal charges of simple marijuana possession.

— Stefan Sykes

New Twitter CEO Elon Musk backs GOP-led Congress as critics question his tweets, handling of the platform

Musk’s plan to buy Twitter has worried policymakers around the world.

Joe Skipper | Reuters

Twitter’s new CEO Elon Musk threw his support behind Republicans in their bid to take congressional majorities in the midterm elections, saying that “shared power curbs the worst excesses of both parties.”

“Therefore I recommend voting for a Republican Congress, given that the Presidency is Democratic,” Musk wrote in a tweet addressed “to independent-minded voters.”

In a follow-up tweet, Musk added, “Hardcore Democrats or Republicans never vote for the other side, so independent voters are the ones who actually decide who’s in charge!”

Musk’s tweets, and other aspects of his leadership, have come under intense scrutiny since the billionaire boss of Tesla and SpaceX acquired Twitter last month for $44 billion.

The succession was marked by massive layoffs, a bristling reception from some advertising groups and confusion about the platform’s policy changes. A regular flow of eyebrow-raising commentary from Musk, most of it from his own Twitter account, added more chaos into the mix.

He blamed “activist groups” for Twitter suffering a “massive drop in revenue … even though nothing has changed with content moderation.” Days later, Musk announced that any Twitter handles impersonating people without clearly labeling themselves parody accounts “will be permanently suspended.”

He has also hit back at many of his critics, including progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and has replied favorably to numerous prominent conservative media figures.

Kevin Breuninger

The 2024 cycle begins: Trump, others key figures drop hints

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally ahead of the midterm elections, in Miami, Florida, U.S., November 6, 2022.

Marco Bello | Reuters

The fight for the midterms may still be in full swing, but it’s clear that some key figures are already laying the groundwork for 2024 and beyond.

Former President Donald Trump, who has regularly hinted he may seek the White House again, this weekend dropped some of his strongest suggestions yet.

“I promise you in the very next very, very, very short period of time, you’re going to be so happy, okay,” Trump said Saturday at a rally in Pennsylvania for GOP Senate nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz and gubernatorial hopeful Doug Mastriano. “We’re going to take it back and you’re going to be hearing about it very soon. Very, very, very soon.”

Trump, who never conceded his loss to President Joe Biden in 2020, considered announcing his next presidential bid at that rally, but opted not to distract from the Oz and Mastriano campaigns, a source told NBC News on Sunday.

Trump at that rally also took a shot at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, widely seen as having presidential ambitions, calling him “Ron DeSanctimonious.”

Meanwhile, GOP Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas has reportedly decided against a run for president in the next cycle. And Biden has privately told allies he is planning to run again, news outlets have reported.

Kevin Breuninger

Use this guide to follow the top Senate races on Election Day

Tuesday’s midterm elections will determine which party takes control of the Senate, seizing the power to steer investigative committees, advance major legislation and potentially approve — or block — President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees.

Candidates in a handful of must-win Senate races appear to be in a dead heat in the polls, and Republicans need to pick up just one seat to gain a majority.

Use CNBC’s guide to the top Senate races to keep track, and learn important facts about each candidate.

Kevin Breuninger

2022 election spending expected to exceed $16.7 billion

A neon voting sign is displayed on a truck during a midterm campaign election stop by Senator Raphael Warnock in Augusta, Georgia, U.S., November 5, 2022. 

Bob Strong | Reuters

The 2022 elections are expected to cost over $16.7 billion, making them the most expensive midterms ever, according to a study by the nonpartisan OpenSecrets.

“No other midterm election has seen as much money at the state and federal levels as the 2022 elections,” said Sheila Krumholz, OpenSecrets’ executive director. “We’re seeing record-breaking totals spent on elections up and down the ballot.” Election Day is Tuesday.

The fight for control of the House and Senate in particular saw massive spending, according to the OpenSecrets data. Republicans hope to win back control of both chambers for the final two years of President Joe Biden’s first term.

Outside groups spent about $1.9 billion to influence federal elections through Oct. 31, blowing past the 2018 midterm outside spending record of $1.6 billion, adjusted for inflation.

Two Republican political action committees have led the way in outside spending for federal races.

The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has poured over $205 million into the midterms while backing Republicans running for Senate. The Congressional Leadership Fund, a hybrid PAC supported by House GOP leaders, has spent more than $188 million.

Megadonors from both sides of aisle have poured millions of dollars into the 2022 midterms. The top donors this cycle going into Election Day include billionaires George Soros, Richard Uihlein, Ken Griffin and Sam Bankman-Fried.

Brian Schwartz

Dems and GOP send out their heavy hitters in final weekend

It was a busy weekend on the campaign trail as both parties sent out their all-star surrogates in the final days leading up to the Nov. 8 midterm elections.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama campaigns on stage for John Fetterman, Pennsylvania Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, as Gisele Fetterman stands nearby, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S., November 5, 2022. 

Quinn Glabicki | Reuters

Republican candidate for Arizona Governor Kari Lake is joined onstage by Steve Bannon, former advisor to U.S. President Donald Trump, during a campaign stop on the Arizona First GOTV Bus Tour in Queen Creek, Arizona, U.S., November 6, 2022. 

Brian Snyder | Reuters

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton joins a rally to support Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto ahead of the election in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. November 6, 2022.

David Swanson | Reuters

Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s longtime associate and political advisor Roger Stone attends a rally ahead of the midterm elections, in Miami, Florida, U.S., November 6, 2022. 

Marco Bello | Reuters

Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker speaks at a rally in Hiram, Georgia on November 6th, 2022.

Nathan Posner | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

U.S. President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama, Democratic U.S. senatorial candidate John Fetterman and Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania governor Josh Shapiro campaign in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. November 5, 2022. 

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

Former U.S. President Donald Trump looks on as Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz speaks at a pre-election rally to support Republican candidates in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, U.S., November 5, 2022.

Mike Segar | Reuters

US President Joe Biden and New York Governor Kathy Hochul wave during a rally for Democratic candidates at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, November 6, 2022.

Saul Loeb | Afp | Getty Images

Rev. Raphael Warnock, Democratic Senator for Georgia is joined by director Spike Lee at a midterm election campaign event in Savannah, Georgia, U.S., November 6, 2022.

Bob Strong | Reuters

— Getty Images | Reuters

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