Americans will finally cast their ballots in record-breaking numbers Tuesday in an election that is widely viewed as a referendum on President Trump’s divisive personality, leadership style and policy ideas, following a historically hostile campaign season.
Enthusiasm on both the right and the left has surged and partisanship has reached toxic levels in the leadup to the election, as Trump has fired up his base with fact-challenged fearmongering about immigrants while Democrats have painted the midterms as a battle for the soul of the nation.
In a phone call with supporters Monday morning, Trump acknowledged that the elections are to a large extent about him.
“In a certain way, I am on the ballot,” Trump said. “Whether we consider it or not, the press is very much considering it a referendum on me and us as a movement.”
For once, Democrats agree with the President.
Blue candidates across the country have raged against their opponents for either embracing or quietly accepting Trump’s hard-line immigration policies and racially charged rhetoric.
“Tomorrow’s elections might be the most important of our lifetimes,” tweeted former President Barack Obama, who has campaigned for Democrats in Illinois, Georgia and Florida in recent days. “The character of our country is on the ballot.”
President Trump's rally in Fort Wayne, Indiana
President Trump's rally in Fort Wayne, Indiana
President Donald Trump greets his daughter Ivanka Trump at a campaign rally at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind., Monday, Nov. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
President Donald Trump and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders listen as White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway speaks at a campaign rally at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind., Monday, Nov. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Supporters wait for the arrival of U.S. President Donald Trump for a campaign rally at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana, U.S., November 5, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
President Donald Trump greets former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz at a campaign rally at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind., Monday, Nov. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
A man in a Make America Great Again hat listens as US President Donald Trump delivers remarks at a Make America Great Again rally in Fort Wayne, Indiana on November 5, 2018. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a rally at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, in Fort Wayne, Ind. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway speaks at a campaign rally featuring President Donald Trump at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind., Monday, Nov. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
President Donald Trump greets Senate candidate Mike Braun at a campaign rally at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind., Monday, Nov. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
President Donald Trump and White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway listen as press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks at a campaign rally at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind., Monday, Nov. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
President Donald Trump listens as his daughter Ivanka Trump speaks at a campaign rally at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind., Monday, Nov. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
President Donald Trump and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders listen to a speech at a campaign rally at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind., Monday, Nov. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Signs are shown during a campaign rally featuring President Donald Trump at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind., Monday, Nov. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
James Crockett, 10, holds a mask of President Donald Trump as another supporter holds a mask of first lady Melania Trump as President Donald Trump speaks at a rally at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, in Fort Wayne, Ind.. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Supporter cheer for President Donald Trump at a rally at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, in Fort Wayne, Ind. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
FORT WAYNE, IN - NOVEMBER 05: U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally for Republican Senate candidate Mike Braun at the County War Memorial Coliseum November 5, 2018 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Braun is facing first-term Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) in tomorrow's midterm election. Trump is campaigning nationwide in an effort to bolster GOP prospects. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
FORT WAYNE, IN - NOVEMBER 05: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally for Republican Senate candidate Mike Braun at the County War Memorial Coliseum November 5, 2018 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Braun is facing first-term Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) in tomorrow's midterm election. Trump is campaigning nationwide in an effort to bolster GOP prospects. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (L) looks on as White House Press Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks and Kellyanne Conway cheers at a Make America Great Again rally in Fort Wayne, Indiana on November 5, 2018. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Supporters cheer as US President Donald Trump delivers remarks at a Make America Great Again rally in Fort Wayne, Indiana on November 5, 2018. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during a campaign rally at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana, U.S., November 5, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks as White House counselor Kellyanne Conway looks on during a campaign rally at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana, U.S., November 5, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
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As of Monday afternoon, more than 34 million Americans had already cast their ballots — a more than 50% increase as compared with the total number of early votes in the 2014 midterms, according to polls.
The unprecedented early turnout was up among all demographics and even tops the numbers of ballots cast in some states for presidential elections.
Strategists tie the skyrocketing turnout and unusual enthusiasm to the way Trump has divided the country into two camps: either you support him unequivocally, or you despise him more than anything.
“Donald Trump is omnipresent in this midterm election because he is there at every turn,” veteran Republican strategist Evan Siegfried told the Daily News. “He puts out a tweet, it’s next day’s headline; someone kneels during an NFL game, his anger becomes the focus. You can’t even go to a movie without somehow hearing about him. He has permeated all sectors of America.”
Democrats riding on Trump’s disastrous approval ratings have a good shot at reclaiming the House, which Republicans currently control with a 24-seat margin.
At least 73 House districts, only four of which are controlled by Democrats, could flip in the election, according to several surveys. Most of the possible tossup districts are in suburban areas, where women and well-educated voters, disillusioned by Trump’s untraditional style, are fleeing the GOP like the plague.
The Senate, meanwhile, appears to be safe for Republicans. Some prognostics suggest the GOP could expand its razor-thin 51-to-49 majority in the upper chamber, and Trump appears to have picked up on that prospect, throwing campaign rallies in Indiana and Missouri on Monday night, where Democrats Joe Donnelly and Claire McCaskill, respectively, are facing tight races.
A major hurdle to beating the Republicans in the Senate is the strong economy, low unemployment and a booming stock market.
Thirty-six governorships and hundreds of local offices are also up for election, including in Georgia, where the gubernatorial race has received national attention over accusations that Republican candidate Brian Kemp, running against African-American Democrat Stacey Abrams, is trying to systemically suppress the black vote.
Tuesday’s elections come as the nation reels from an anti-Semitic massacre at a synagogue in Pittsburgh and a rash of mail bombs sent to high-profile Democrats and critics of the President.
Instead of issuing calls for unity, Trump has tried to make the elections all about a slow-moving caravan of Central American migrants fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries.
Photos of the week: 10/26 - 11/2
Photos of the week: 10/26 - 11/2
Students from the Yeshiva School in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, pay their respects as the funeral procession for Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz passes their school en route to Homewood Cemetery following a funeral service at the Jewish Community Center, Tuesday Oct. 30, 2018. Rabinowitz was one of people killed while worshipping at the Tree of Life synagogue on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Rosendo Noviega, a 38-year-old migrant from Guatemala, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America en route to the United States, holds his daughter Belinda Izabel as he walks along the highway to Juchitan from Santiago Niltepec, Mexico, October 30, 2018. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. first lady Melania Trump hand out Halloween candy to trick or-treaters at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 28, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
LOWESWATER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 1: Beautiful autumn colour and low cloud is reflected in Loweswater on November 1, 2018 in Loweswater, United Kingdom. After the long summer, colder and more wintery weather has now settled in across the country. (Photo by Tom White/Getty Images)
ROTORUA, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 31: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visit Redwoods Tree Walk on October 31, 2018 in Rotorua, New Zealand. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are on their official 16-day Autumn tour visiting cities in Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
A woman belonging to a shepherd community is seen adorned with a nose ornament as she sits in a field on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, India, October 29, 2018. REUTERS/Amit Dave TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
GAZA CITY, GAZA - OCTOBER 26: Smoke and flames rise after an Israeli airstrike hit a five-storey building in the Gaza Strip in response to rockets said were fired towards the country, in southern Gaza City, Gaza on October 26, 2018. Fighter jets and helicopters pounded targets in Gaza for more than two hours, including Hamas sites, the Israeli army said in a press release. (Photo by Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 31: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox holds the World Series trophy as he rides on a duck boat during the 2018 World Series rolling rally parade on October 31, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
Mourners react during a memorial service at the Sailors and Soldiers Memorial Hall of the University of Pittsburgh, a day after 11 worshippers were shot dead at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 28, 2018. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
TOPSHOT - 'Asterion,' a giant Minotaure performs in the street of Toulouse as part of French street theatre company La Machine show 'Le Gardien du Temple' on November 2, 2018 in Toulouse city center. (Photo by ERIC CABANIS / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC CABANIS/AFP/Getty Images)
MANILA, PHILIPPINES - NOVEMBER 1: People gather near the graves of their relatives in a cemetery during the commemoration of All Saints' Day in Manila on November 1, 2018 in Manila, Philippines. Filipinos flock to cemeteries to celebrate All Saints and All Souls Days festivals as they to pay their respects to their dead in an annual tradition. In the Philippines, family members clean tombs and often spend the night at the cemetery by offering flowers, candles and prayers with loved ones across to commemorate their departed loved ones, which fall on November 1. (Photo by Mohd Samsul Mohd Said/Getty Images)
Relatives of passengers of Lion Air, flight JT610, that crashed into the sea cry at Depati Amir Airport in Pangkal Pinang, Belitung island, Indonesia, October 29, 2018. Antara Foto/Hadi Sutrisno via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. INDONESIA OUT. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 30: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) (EDITORS NOTE: This image was processed using digital filters) Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visits Coach Core Essex at Basildon Sporting Village on October 30, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects Samjiyon County, in this undated photo released on October 30, 2018 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). KCNA/via REUTERS. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A man, part of a caravan of migrants from Central America en route to the United States, carries a girl through the Suchiate River into Mexico from Guatemala in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico October 29, 2018. REUTERS/Adrees Latif TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Workers hold signs outside 14th Street Park across the Google offices after walking out as part of a global protest over workplace issues in New York, U.S., November 1, 2018. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Ornamental fish are seen for sale in plastic bags on the street in Hanoi, Vietnam October 30, 2018. REUTERS/Kham TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Britain's Prince Harry holding toy from young child in the crowd at the Viaduct Harbour October 30, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. . Chris Jackson/Pool via REUTERS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - OCTOBER 30: A indonesian red cross member stands in front of recovered personal items from Lion Air flight JT 610 at the Tanjung Priok port on October 30, 2018 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Rescuers have recovered bodies, body parts and personal items in the wreckage, with all 189 passengers and crew feared dead. Lion Air Flight JT 610, traveling from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang crashed in the Java sea Monday morning, shortly after takeoff. (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump give out candy to children at a Halloween celebration at the White House in Washington, DC, on October 28, 2018. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Explosives planted by Norwegian Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal are triggered to clear the beaches of obstacles and enemy mines, during an Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance demonstration, as part of the NATO exercise Trident Juncture 2018, in Byneset near Trondheim, Norway, October 30, 2018. - Trident Juncture 2018, is a NATO-led military exercise held in Norway from 25 October to 7 November 2018. The exercise is the largest of its kind in Norway since the 1980s. Around 50,000 participants from NATO and partner countries, some 250 aircraft, 65 ships and up to 10,000 vehicles take part in the exercise. The main goal of Trident Juncture is allegedly to train the NATO Response Force and to test the alliance's defence capability. (Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP) (Photo credit should read JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)
Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the new iPad Pro during an Apple launch event in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., October 30, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 02: Simone Biles of The United States competes on the uneaven bars during day nine of the 2018 FIG Artistic Gymnastics Championships at Aspire Dome on November 2, 2018 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - OCTOBER 31: Epi Syamsul (50), and his wife Yenny await news of their son Mohammad Rafi Andrian, a victim of Lion Air flight JT 610 as reports suggest authorities have located the aircraft's fuselage at police hospital on October 31, 2018 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Rescuers have recovered bodies, body parts, and personal items in the wreckage, with all 189 passengers and crew feared dead. Lion Air Flight JT 610, traveling from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang crashed in the Java sea Monday morning, shortly after takeoff. (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)
MARIETTA, GA - NOVEMBER 01: Oprah Winfrey and Georgia Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams greet the audience during a town hall style event at the Cobb Civic Center on November 1, 2018 in Marietta, Georgia. Winfrey travelled to Georgia to campaign with Abrams ahead of the mid-term election. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
Migrants, part of a caravan traveling to the U.S., walk along the road to Huixtla, near Tapachula, Mexico, October 31, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
WACO, TEXAS - OCTOBER 31: U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) asks people to raise their hands if they have already voted during a campaign stop at the John Knox Memorial Center at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame October 31, 2018 in Waco, Texas. With less than a week before Election Day, O'Rourke is driving across the state in his race against incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
A South Korean marine in action during their regular drill on Yeonpyeong Island, South Korea November 1, 2018. Jeon Heon-Kyun/Pool via REUTERS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Boys pray outside the Tree of Life synagogue following Saturday's shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 29, 2018. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Children with their faces painted as "Catrina" take part in a Catrina parade ahead of the Day of the Dead in Saltillo state of Coahuila, Mexico October 31, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
The sound of chainsaws grind through a neighborhood in Natchez, Miss., as cleanup begins following a tornado that hit early Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018. At least 11 tornadoes have been confirmed by National Weather Service surveyors so far in Louisiana and Mississippi as part of a storm system that moved across the region Wednesday night and Thursday. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Aerial view of Honduran migrants heading in a caravan to the US, as the leave Arriaga on their way to San Pedro Tapanatepec, in southern Mexico on October 27, 2018. - Mexico on Friday announced it will offer Central American migrants medical care, education for their children and access to temporary jobs as long as they stay in two southern states. (Photo by Guillermo Arias / AFP) (Photo credit should read GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 30: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex kneeling down to talk to a young girl during 'Walkabout' on October 30, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are on their official 16-day Autumn tour visiting cities in Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Women receive treatment for respiratory issues at a hospital in New Delhi, India, November 2, 2018. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
VENICE, ITALY - OCTOBER 29: A pharmacist looks at the high tide in front of his pharmacy on October 29, 2018 in Venice, Italy. Due to the exceptional level of the 'acqua alta' or 'High Tide' that reached 156 cm today, Venetian schools and hospitals were closed by the authorities, and citizens were advised against leaving their homes . (Photo by Stefano Mazzola/Awakening/Getty Images)
Peadar Langton aged 7 holds a puppy his father allowed him to buy from Patsy O'Sullivan at the annual Maam Cross fair in the Connemara region of Maam Cross in Galway, Ireland, October 30, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Relatives gather around some of the graves illuminated by candles during All Saints Day at the cemetery in Vilnius, Lithuania, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018. Candles illuminated tombstones in graveyards across Europe as people communed with the souls of the dead on Thursday, observing one of the most sacred days in the Catholic calendar.(AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)
HATAY, TURKEY - NOVEMBER 01 : Abdulkerim El Mutip, lost his right hand thumb and left leg after a barrel bomb attack, sits on a bed while leaning on his crutches at a life center in Reyhanli district of Turkey's southern Hatay province on November 01, 2018. Many people experience long-term disabilities such as amputations, brain injuries, spinal injuries, seeing or hearing disabilities, or mental health disabilities because of the Syrian civil war. Life center hosts 12 Syrians, including children, who fled the civil war and came to Hatay's Reyhanli. (Photo by Cem Genco/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A woman passes by an oak tree displaying fall colors on the grounds of the National World War I Museum Monday, Oct. 29, 2018, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Heidi Klum and Tom Kaulitz attend Heidi Klum's 19th Annual Halloween Party at Lavo on October 31, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)
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The President has made numerous false claims about the desperate migrants, including asserting without evidence that “unknown Middle Easterners” are “mixed in” with them. He has also sent roughly 7,000 U.S. troops to the southwestern border even though the caravan is at least a month away and comprises less than 3,500 people, many of whom are children and families.
Republican midterm candidates across the country have picked up on Trump’s harsh rhetoric, perpetuating racially charged language to attack their Democratic challengers.
In Florida, GOP gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis set the tone early on by urging constituents to “not monkey this up” by electing his Democratic opponent, Andrew Gillum, who is African-American. In upstate New York, incumbent Rep. John Faso followed suit, issuing racially charged ads painting his African-American opponent, Antonio Delgado, as a “big city rapper” because he had a brief hip-hop career more than a decade ago.
Democrats have stayed clear of the Trump-style insults, but have time and again trashed Republicans as morally flawed, corrupt and beholden to the President.
“President Trump, when it comes to draining the swamp, has been a complete and total disappointment," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at a news conference in May while announcing a sweeping anti-Trump platform called “Better Deal,” which was meant to boost Democratic congressional candidates. “Trump has embraced the most egregious establishment Republican norms and appointed the most conflict-of-interest ridden cabinet in my lifetime. The swamp has never been more foul or more fetid than under this President."
Cultural movements meant to spotlight deep-rooted social problems have also became political tools in this election.
MeToo — intended to address the pervasiveness of sexual misconduct in politics and society at large — took center stage in fueling the flames of partisanship as Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court was nearly derailed earlier this year amid claims he sexually assaulted several women.
Conservatives claimed Kavanaugh was the victim of a baseless smear while Democrats accused the GOP of choosing political expediency over credible accusations of misconduct.
Trump, in turn, has painted the embattled jurist’s confirmation as a major reason to vote Republican in the midterms, telling supporters at numerous rallies that the elections are about “Kavanaugh, the caravan, law and order and common sense.”
Siegfried said the midterms are more than anything about anger.
“The most renewable political resource is anger, and we’re seeing an incredible amount of it right now,” Siegfried said. “Both sides of the aisle are campaigning on it.”