Election Day is finally upon us.
 
First, the essentials. If you still need to vote, polls are now open statewide. Find your polling place here. If you plan to drop off your absentee ballot today, do it at your county election office or a drop-off site (not the polling place) by 3 p.m. Polls close at 8 p.m.
 
Colleague Marissa Evans put together a helpful primer for those looking to vote today. We'll have results and live coverage on StarTribune.com all night long. 
 
Briana Bierschbach and Jessie Van Berkel will provide a preview of top races and answer questions live on Instagram ahead of the polls closing tonight. Join them at around 7:30  tonight at @StarTribune.
 
But for now, here's a look at some of the top races, themes and questions of the day here in Minnesota:
 
1. What's the final margin between Trump and Biden?
As we all know by now, President Donald Trump vowed to flip Minnesota after his narrow 2016 loss. But most polling has shown Democratic nominee Joe Biden with a comfortable lead here in the Gopher State. 
 
FiveThirtyEight has Biden up 9 points in its Minnesota polling average. And off-the-charts early voting numbers out of DFL strongholds such as Hennepin County suggest a good night for Democrats.
 
Even so, some top Republicans argue that the four visits from the president and the party's aggressive voter contact efforts -- they've continued to knock doors throughout the pandemic -- could help them narrow that margin or even deliver a come-from-behind win for Trump.
 
Win or lose, the final split will likely have ripple effects in competitive contests down ballot. Which leads us to.... 
 
2. Does the state Senate flip? 
 
Sure, Minnesota's 10 electoral college votes matter. But with all 201 state legislative seats on the ballot, control of the Minnesota Legislature is up for grabs. 
 
That's a big deal. The next Legislature will address the projected budget deficit, the state's coronavirus response and redistricting, among other issues. Come January, we'll either have a divided government as we do now, with Republicans controlling one or both chambers and Democrat Tim Walz in the governor's office, or a DFL trifecta. 
 
The big prize is the state Senate, where Republicans are defending a narrow, 35-32 majority. Democrats, who need a net gain of two seats to win control, are targeting more than a half a dozen GOP-held districts. But Republicans are on offense, too, campaigning against a handful of vulnerable DFL incumbents. 
 
Wins by Republicans in any of those seats complicate the path for the DFL.
 
On the House side, Republicans would need to flip 9 seats to win back a majority.
Their targets include a handful of freshman incumbents who won GOP districts in 2018, open seats in the suburbs and Greater Minnesota. Wins there could narrow or even overcome the DFL's edge. The House DFL caucus is on offense, too, targeting GOP incumbents in areas trending in Democrats' favor. 
 
The Trump effect remains a big unknown in these races. Most of the DFL's targets are in parts of the state where polling and 2018 results suggest voters have soured on the president. 
 
Unless Trump has a surprisingly strong night, Republicans need suburban voters and others to split the ticket and fill out a GOP bubble for legislative races after voting Democrat at the top of the ticket.
 
A blue wave similar to the 2018 midterms would almost certainly lead to DFL victories down the ballot. But top Republicans note that their candidates have out-performed the top of the ticket in past elections, If Trump loses, but by roughly 3 points or less, Republicans believe they might be able to pull off more wins. 
 
For those looking for a full list of races to watch tonight,  MinnPost posted a helpful roundup of the most competitive contests in both chambers. 
Our Star Tribune results page will include a balance of power projection for both chambers. And I'll be tweeting about top legislative races all night. Follow along: @toreyvanoot.
 
3. Can vulnerable congressional incumbents hold on? 
The last election brought lots of turnover for Minnesota's congressional delegation.
 
This year, handicappers rate just two seats as most likely to change hands. 
 
Longtime DFL. Rep. Collin Peterson  is running what just might be the race of his political life against Republican Michelle Fischbach in Minnesota's Seventh Congressional District. Peterson held on when voters in the western Minnesota seat went for Trump by roughly 30 points in 2016. 
 
Republican Rep. Jim Hagedorn faces a rematch against Democrat Dan Feehan in Minnesota's First Congressional District. Hagedorn won that Southern Minnesota race by about 1,300 votes in 2018 -- less than 1/2 a percent. 
 
Cook Political Report  rates both races as "toss up" heading into today.
 
4.  Will turnout top past records?
 
An eye-popping 1.8 million Minnesotans had already voted as of the end of the day Monday. That's roughly two-thirds of the total vote from the 2016 election.
 
The big question heading into today is how many more Minnesotans will drop off an absentee ballot or head to the polls to vote in person.
 
If the numbers are big, Minnesota could cross the 80% turnout threshold, shattering the previous modern 77% turnout record. And, with early voting up nationwide, will we keep our standing as the top turnout state? Stay tuned to find out.
 
Speaking of voting, we're keeping an eye out for reports of issues at the polls today. Be our eyes and ears and report any problems you encounter as part of our ElectionLand partnership with ProPublica.
 
5. What happens after Election Day? 
There's a possibility that the nation won't know the winner in the presidential contest tonight. Because Minnesota officials can start processing absentee ballots before Election Day, we should have a good sense of how things are going here tonight. 
 
But more ballots will trickle in for the next week, thanks to an extended deadline for accepting and processing ballots postmarked by Nov. 3. The Eighth Circuit has ordered election officials to segregate those ballots that arrive after Election Day, in case they are invalidated by future court battles. 
 
Officials and businesses are also preparing for the possibility of unrest, depending how the election goes today. We'll be covering any developments on that front as well.
 
My parting Election Day advice to everyone? Hydrate and try to relax. If you're feeling stressed, Star Tribune's Anna Boone has created a magical tool to help you calm down.
 
Don't forget, you can follow results live on StarTribune.com/Results, Twitter and Instagram all night long. Happy voting and be safe out there, everyone! 
 

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