WASHINGTON - Election Day Tuesday features key governor's races in Kentucky and Mississippi, where Republicans are trying to hold onto the governor's mansion, and a state legislative contest in Virginia that could flip the statehouse from Republican to Democrat for the first time in a generation.
The races could provide a sense of voter attitudes heading into the 2020 elections.
In Kentucky, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin is running for a second term in a tight race with Democrat Attorney General Andy Beshear. And in Mississippi, State Attorney General Jim Hood, the only Democrat holding a statewide office, is running against GOP Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves for the open gubernatorial seat.
USA TODAY will be providing live updates on developments as they happen.
8:05 p.m. ET
Polls close in Mississippi where GOP expected to keep governor's mansion
The polls have closed in Mississippi and Reeves is the favorite to win the election over Hood in ruby-red Mississippi, though analysts say it won't be a cakewalk.
But even if Reeves wins the popular vote he might not be elected governor, according to the Jackson Clarion Ledger.
Under state law, statewide candidates must clear two hurdles to win office: a majority of the popular vote and a majority of the state's 122 House districts.
If a candidate can't clear both, the race is decided by the House. A federal judge last week declined to block the law after it was challenged in court.
The good news for Reeves: the Mississippi House is controlled by Republicans.
7:25 p.m. ET
Early results show Beshear outperforming 2015 Democrat
Polls have now closed in all of Kentucky, including Louisville's delayed precincts and Western Kentucky, which is an hour behind Louisville.
Voting has ended in Virginia as well. (Mississippi polls close at 8 p.m.).
Preliminary results have started trickling in and suggest Beshear is outperforming Democrat Jack Conway, who ran against Bevin in 2015 and lost by around 100,000 votes, according to the Louisville Courier Journal.
With that, #ByeByeBevin started trending in Kentucky and across the U.S.
6 p.m. ET
Trump rallied Monday to boost Bevin in Kentucky
At a rally Monday in Lexington, Kentucky, President Donald Trump said a loss by Bevin would send "a really bad message."
Bevin is the best example of a Trump proxy on the ballot today.
Besides sharing Trump's pugilistic style, Bevin has also tied himself closely to Trump. But the governor's unpopularity in the state has made the race a toss-up. A Mason-Dixon poll released Oct. 16 showed the race tied at 46% apiece.
"If you win (the media) are going to make it like ho-hum, and if you lose they're going to say 'Trump suffered the greatest defeat in the history of the world,' " he told the crowd. "You can't let that happen to me."
Polls will close at 8 p.m. EST in Mississippi, where Hood is running against Reeves for the open gubernatorial seat.
"I bait my own hook, carry my own gun and drive my own truck," Hood boasts in an ad highlighting the culturally conservative persona that used to allow some Democrats to win Republican states.
Also on the ballot Tuesday are state legislative races in Mississippi, Louisiana, New Jersey and Virginia, where Democrats have a legitimate shot to wrest away power from the GOP for the first time in two decades.
There are also a bevy of municipal races across the country, including mayoral contests in Chicago, Denver and Houston.
Analysts caution not to read too much into the results given there are far fewer races than the mid-terms of 2018 where a blue wave propelled Democrats back into control of the U.S. House.
David Wasserman, a political handicapper with the non-partisan Cook Political Report, said it would be a "bad/terrible" night if Democrat lose both governor races and fail to capture the Virginia legislature, and a "weaker-than-expected" night if they lose both gubernatorial races and only capture a slim margin in the Virginia State House.
THREAD on races to watch & how to roughly interpret tonight's results:
1. Dems are having a bad/terrible night if they: lose #KYGOV, #MSGOV, fail to take over the VA House of Dels. and only muster a 20-20 tie in VA Senate by picking up #SD13
- Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) November 5, 2019
In Virginia, Democrats are trying to build on their huge gains in 2017 when they came tantalizingly close to winning the legislature in a state that has become increasingly blue.
Most of the major Democratic presidential candidates have traveled to Virginia to keep the momentum going. Republicans, however, sent Vice President Mike Pence - and not Trump - across the river for a pre-election push.
Contributing: Maureen Groppe
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 2019 elections: Key race results in Kentucky, Mississippi, Virginia