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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 6:15 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.)

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 309223

Reported Deaths: 7153
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21005250
Hinds19989411
Harrison17590303
Rankin13388277
Jackson13169243
Madison9965212
Lee9900170
Jones8319161
Forrest7554149
Lauderdale7232237
Lowndes6306144
Lamar614685
Lafayette6081118
Washington5296133
Bolivar4778130
Oktibbeha458097
Panola4461103
Pearl River4447142
Warren4310119
Marshall4302103
Pontotoc417672
Monroe4063132
Union405175
Neshoba4009176
Lincoln3892109
Hancock373785
Leflore3471124
Sunflower332090
Tate325984
Pike3226105
Scott311973
Yazoo305369
Alcorn301566
Itawamba297977
Copiah294365
Coahoma290779
Simpson290486
Tippah285368
Prentiss276659
Marion266479
Leake262473
Wayne261541
Grenada257385
Covington255380
Adams247082
Newton246161
George238947
Winston226181
Tishomingo222867
Jasper220248
Attala213673
Chickasaw205857
Holmes187272
Clay183354
Stone179733
Clarke178177
Tallahatchie176240
Calhoun165632
Yalobusha160236
Smith159734
Walthall131143
Greene129633
Lawrence126823
Noxubee126634
Montgomery125842
Perry125238
Amite121041
Carroll121026
Webster113932
Jefferson Davis105932
Tunica103425
Claiborne101430
Benton97525
Kemper95728
Humphreys94732
Franklin83123
Quitman78916
Choctaw74417
Wilkinson65329
Jefferson64928
Sharkey49817
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 522512

Reported Deaths: 10790
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson755371494
Mobile39129799
Madison34124500
Tuscaloosa25408444
Montgomery24059573
Shelby23225242
Baldwin20730302
Lee15638166
Calhoun14358311
Morgan14171273
Etowah13705348
Marshall12012220
Houston10416279
Elmore10024203
Limestone9862148
Cullman9509191
St. Clair9486236
Lauderdale9280233
DeKalb8762183
Talladega8127173
Walker7151276
Autauga6763106
Jackson6762110
Blount6532133
Colbert6236132
Coffee5436113
Dale4781111
Russell431239
Franklin421382
Chilton4130110
Covington4069115
Tallapoosa3922148
Escambia390374
Dallas3528150
Chambers3519122
Clarke347360
Marion3076100
Pike306676
Lawrence296395
Winston273272
Bibb256761
Marengo248561
Geneva246475
Pickens233259
Barbour227155
Hale218675
Butler213268
Fayette209660
Henry188444
Cherokee182744
Randolph177841
Monroe173140
Washington165538
Macon156548
Clay150255
Crenshaw149557
Cleburne147041
Lamar140034
Lowndes137353
Wilcox124727
Bullock122040
Conecuh109728
Perry107726
Sumter103332
Coosa99428
Greene91434
Choctaw58824
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Partly Cloudy
74° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 74°
Columbus
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 75°
Oxford
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 72°
Starkville
Partly Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 73°
A strong cold front will pass through our area this evening. This will bring some very unseasonably cold air into our area for a few days. We will see some potential for some frosty conditions for tonight and for our Wednesday night.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather