Reality check: Midterms hinge on these voters

CNN's John Avlon says the past two midterm elections show that the balance of power could lie in the hands of independent voters.

Posted: Nov 6, 2018 6:01 AM
Updated: Nov 6, 2018 6:15 AM

No matter what happens today in the elections, remember that we're all still on the same team. And by all means, go out there and vote! Here's what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get "5 Things You Need to Know Today" delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)

1. Midterm elections

He's not on the ballot, but today's midterm elections are all about President Trump. He'll either be rewarded for overseeing a booming economy or punished for his policies and unconventional style. Either way, we've never seen midterms with this much hype. Independents may end up being Trump's political judge and jury. And these 10 races could offer early hints about how things may shake out. Check out the eight biggest questions this election could answer. Most importantly, here's a voting guide to help you figure out where to vote, poll opening and closing times and where to get results for your state. Here's what to do if you're turned away at the polls. And, of course, get the latest updates on CNN TV and CNN.com.

One more thing: Did you vote in the midterms (or will you today)? We'd like you to send us a pic of you (or you and the kids, or you and whomever) with your "I Voted" sticker for our roundup of "50 votes, 50 stickers and you." Please email it with your name, city -- and whatever else you'd like to add -- to: andrea.diaz@turner.com. Make your state's name the subject line.

2. Cameroon

Officials in Cameroon are desperately searching for 79 boys and girls kidnapped by armed men from a school. The men entered the Presbyterian Secondary School in Bamenda, in the country's Northwest region, overwhelmed a guard and forced him to take them to the sleeping children. The men tried to take the students away in a school bus, but the driver pretended there was something wrong with the vehicle, so the men took off with the children on foot. A school spokesman said the kidnappers might be English-speaking secessionists who want independence from Cameroon's largely French-influenced government.

3. USA Gymnastics

The US Olympic Committee has had enough. After watching USA Gymnastics struggle to recover from the sex abuse scandal involving former team doctor Larry Nassar, the committee wants to pull USA Gymnastics' status as the sport's governing body. USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland has offered USA Gymnastics the option of surrendering its status voluntarily. USA Gymnastics said it was "evaluating the best path forward" but didn't indicate if it would challenge the USOC's actions.

4. Amazon

Amazon may be throwing the cities competing to be the home of its next headquarters a big ol' curve ball. Instead of picking one city to house HQ2, the tech behemoth reportedly is going to pick two. So, those 50,000 high-paying jobs promised with the $5 billion project would be split between two locations. The latest word on the street, as they say, is that northern Virginia, Dallas and New York City are still in the running to land HQ2, among 20 finalists. Amazon's reportedly doing the split to make sure it can recruit enough talent. The two winners will be announced by the end of the year, Amazon says.

5. Space

So, a long, cigar-shaped object zipped through our solar system last year. Scientists struggled to explain what it was. Asteroid? Comet? Now, some researchers at Harvard are offering a startling theory: alien space probe. Say what? In a new paper, they say the elongated dark-red object, which they call Oumuamua, might have an "artificial origin." The object is 10 times as long as it is wide and travels at 196,000 mph. "Oumuamua may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilization," the paper reads. If you're fearing an "Independence Day"-style invasion, calm down. Oumuamua left our solar system in January.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

Lady luck

She won half that $687 million Powerball prize right after she bought a house. Guess she'll have a decent budget to do an extreme home makeover.

Gimme a (customized) break

Like Kit Kats? Then hop a flight to Japan to visit the KitKat Chocolatory, where you can trick out your fave chocolate treat with just about anything you want.

Good customers

When the doughnut shop owner puts the goodies out, his customers buy out his inventory in just hours so he can go take care of his sick wife.

What you really, really want

If all you really, really wanted was a Spice Girls reunion, today's your lucky day. The '90s hitmakers are going back on tour -- but without Posh Spice.

HAPPENING LATER

Binge-worthy

Want to catch up on "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown" or "This Is Life with Lisa Ling"? Now's your chance: Starting today at 5 p.m. ET, select CNN Original Series will be available for free on CNNgo for a limited time.

TODAY'S NUMBER

57

That's how many miles a runaway train traveled across Australia before it was deliberately derailed. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

AND FINALLY

Teamwork makes the dream work

This crafty pair doesn't have to wait for anyone to bring them a bowl of water. (Click to view.)

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