Mara Liasson

In one respect, this is a typical midterm election — a race shaped as a referendum on the president and the party in power.

But there are so many ways in which this election is anything but typical. We've seen a surge in first-time candidates, especially women and minorities. In the past several midterms, the party in power was relatively complacent compared with the party hoping to be in power. Heading into Election Day, Democrats have an enthusiasm edge, but Republicans have been getting steadily amped up, too.

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President Trump and his supporters have often complained about the "deep state" — a supposedly shadowy cabal of opposition bureaucrats buried deep within the government. But perhaps the biggest impediment to the president isn't the deep state at all. It's the "shallow state" — which exists right below Donald Trump at the Cabinet level.

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Ohio's special election yesterday to fill a congressional seat offers a textbook example of a razor-thin margin. Republican Troy Balderson holds a lead of less than 1 percent in a reliable GOP district. Last night, though, he claimed victory.

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