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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

By late Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, officials from both parties say we should know whether or not the Democrats have won the House. Until then, everyone is on edge — and the tension is only going to get worse through the long election night.

What they're saying: Democrats remain "cautiously optimistic," one strategist told me, especially "after living through 2014 and 2016" when Democrats had high hopes but suffered major losses. President Trump is sounding the alarm by disputing CNN polls and warning of potential illegal voting. And a national Republican operative texted me: "It's going to be a bad night in the House."

The big picture: Some House races will be too close to call on election night, and California's late results will likely take a few days to sort out. But between Pennsylvania and New Jersey — where polls close at 8 p.m. ET and where Democratic officials predict they'll pick up as many as eight seats combined — Democrats would be more than one-third of the way to the 23 seats they need to win the House.

What to watch: Cook Political Report's Dave Wasserman tweeted how to watch the House tonight...

  • Democrats would need to win only eight of the 30 tossup races if every "lean," "likely," and "solid" seat went to the respective party. Republicans, meanwhile, would have to win 23 of the 30 tossups. "Not impossible, but difficult," he wrote.

Here's where things stand as millions of Americans head to the polls:

  • More than 2.3 million voters under 30 have already voted this year, per Tom Bonier, CEO of the Democratic political data firm TargetSmart. At this point in the 2014 midterm cycle, 849,876 voters under 30 had cast ballots.
  • Last-minute midterms forecasts unanimously predict Democrats winning the House and Republicans keeping the Senate.
  • Strategists from both parties have predicted the Democrats will win around 35 House seats. That'd be better for Trump than the 37 seats lost on average for a president with an approval rating below 50% during his first midterm election.
  • The generic ballot numbers haven't changed much over the last three months. On Sept. 4, Democrats led by 8.9 percentage points; on Oct. 4 they led by 7.7; and on Nov. 4 they led by 8.1.
  • Polls are tightening in key Senate races, like Arizona, Nevada, and Florida, but Democrats still face an uphill battle there.

What's happened: A lot, but remember Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation? The national GOP operative said the Kavanaugh bounce "helped Republicans narrow the Democrats' intensity advantage, but it didn’t solve their problems with Independents."

The bottom line: Surprises are always possible, as we learned in 2016. But the odds of a Democratic House — and two years of clashes with Trump and a Republican Senate — are about as high as they can get.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - World

HRW: Over 100 former Afghan security members dead or missing under Taliban rule

Members of the Taliban movement patrol Kabul's airport in September. Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images

The Taliban have "killed or forcibly disappeared" over 100 former members of Afghanistan's security forces since the group took power in August, a Human Rights Watch report published Tuesday found.

Why it matters: Former military members and officials from the ousted government, activists and other Taliban critics are facing peril amid executions driven by revenge — despite Taliban promises of an "amnesty" with no retributions, notes the New York Times, which first reported the news.

5 hours ago - World

Barbados becomes a republic, replacing U.K. queen with president

Combination images of Dame Sandra Mason, president of Barbados, and Britain's Prince Charles at her swearing-in ceremony in Bridgetown, Barbados, late Monday.

Barbados officially became a republic at midnight local time after Dame Sandra Mason was sworn in as the Caribbean nation's first president in a ceremony attended by the United Kingdom's Prince Charles.

Why it matters: Mason replaced Britain's Queen Elizabeth as head of state Tuesday — removing the country's final remaining colonial tie to the U.K. almost 400 years after the first British ships arrived in Barbados.

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.