Mara Liasson

Veteran Democratic strategist Paul Begala doesn't think it's hyperbolic to say that "everything" is at stake for Democrats heading into Tuesday's elections.

"They always say it's the most important election of your life," he says, explaining that in the past two years, Democrats learned the consequences of being "completely shut out" as the GOP controlled both Congress and the White House.

If Democrats fail to take back the House and make significant gains at the state level, they'll be shut out again, without a say in legislation and judicial appointments.

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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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

In TV commercials and on debate stages across America, the attacks are now blistering as candidates see Election Day coming up fast.

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The lawyer for Christine Blasey Ford wants something more than a she-said, he-said hearing.

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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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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

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.

Democrats are playing a very weak hand in the battle over Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court. They're locked out of power in Washington, D.C, and can't block the nomination thanks to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's decision in 2017 to end the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations.

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