Jessica Taylor

Jessica Taylor is a political reporter with NPR based in Washington, DC, covering elections and breaking news out of the White House and Congress. Her reporting can be heard and seen on a variety of NPR platforms, from on air to online. For more than a decade, she has reported on and analyzed House and Senate elections and is a contributing author to the 2020 edition of The Almanac of American Politics and is a senior contributor to The Cook Political Report.

Before joining NPR in May 2015, Taylor was the campaign editor for The Hill newspaper. Taylor has also reported for the NBC News Political Unit, Inside Elections, National Journal, The Hotline and Politico. Taylor has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, C-SPAN, CNN, and she is a regular on the weekly roundup on NPR's 1A with Joshua Johnson. On Election Night 2012, Taylor served as an off-air analyst for CBS News in New York.

A native of Elizabethton, Tennessee, she graduated magna cum laude in 2007 with a B.A. in political science from Furman University.

For nearly a decade, Nancy Pelosi was the GOP's not-so-secret weapon.

Tying a congressional candidate to the Democratic leader and raising the specter of another would-be speakership was a Republican's silver bullet for much of the past decade.

The final Senate race of 2018 was expected to be a sleepy affair — a formality, really, with a special election runoff in deep red Mississippi. Instead, the race has been upended in the final days thanks to multiple stumbles by the GOP nominee that have dredged up the state's history of racial violence.

Updated at 10:35 a.m. ET

Mississippi was set for a fairly mundane midterm election runoff next week — deciding who would win the final undecided U.S. Senate seat in a state that easily elects Republicans, until a senator greeted a cattle rancher.

Democrat Stacey Abrams isn't backing down from her fight against what she calls voter suppression tactics and election mismanagement after losing the Georgia governor's race. In fact, Abrams said she experienced the problems in her state firsthand — after nearly being denied a ballot during early voting.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott has defeated Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson in the Florida Senate race after a protracted and contentious recount.

Following both a machine and hand recount — mandated by law given the very tight margin of less than 0.25 percentage points — Scott continued to lead Nelson by more than 10,000 votes out of more than eight million votes cast.

"I just spoke with Senator Bill Nelson, who graciously conceded, and I thanked him for his years of public service," said Scott in a statement issued by his campaign.

Andrew Gillum ended his bid to become the first African-American governor of Florida on Saturday, conceding the race to his Republican rival, former Rep. Ron DeSantis.

"R. Jai and I wanted to take a moment to congratulate Mr. DeSantis on becoming the next governor of the great state of Florida," Gillum said in a Facebook video with his wife at his side. "This has been the journey of our lives."

Updated at 8:33 p.m. ET

Republican Brian Kemp will be the next governor of Georgia, with Democrat Stacey Abrams admitting Friday afternoon that there was no path to victory, following a bitter 10-day battle since Election Day.

Updated at 8:40 p.m. ET

Democrat Kyrsten Sinema has defeated Republican Martha McSally to win the Arizona Senate race, the Associated Press projected Monday evening.

With Sinema's victory to flip the open seat of retiring GOP Sen. Jeff Flake, she becomes the first Democrat Arizona has elected to the Senate since 1988. She will not only be the state's first female senator but will also be the first openly bisexual senator in U.S. history.

Updated at 8:16 p.m. ET

As recounts are underway in Florida, a judge issued a warning Monday to "ramp down the rhetoric" as top Republicans — including President Trump — are casting doubt on the process.

The next Congress is going to be missing some familiar faces. Thanks to a mix of retirements and defeats on Tuesday, some high-profile lawmakers will soon be exiting Capitol Hill.

Some were longtime Democratic targets in the Senate that the GOP finally vanquished. Others were vocal Republican critics of President Trump who chose not to run for re-election. Others simply thought it was time to hang it up — including the outgoing speaker of the House, Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

Here are 10 of the most notable politicians making their exit from Washington:

President Trump claimed some personal victories in the 2018 midterm results, and as he ticked them off at a news conference on Wednesday he might as well have been walking through the Electoral College map for 2020.

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz has won re-election in Texas, the AP projects, beating back a strong challenge from Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke.

O'Rourke smashed fundraising records, raising more than $60 million for his bid, and generated lots of grassroots enthusiasm and national attention with his unconventional campaign. And while Democrats have argued for years that Texas was primed to turn blue with its growing Hispanic population, the GOP lean of the state was ultimately too much for O'Rourke to overcome.

There are dozens of competitive races across the country that will determine control of the House, Senate and governors' seats. Democrats need to pick up 23 seats to take back the House, Democrats need a net gain of two seats to flip the Senate and Democrats are expected to slice into Republicans' 33-16 advantage in governors' seats.

Democrats appear confident they'll take back the House majority next Tuesday — a fact top Republican strategists all but concede privately less than a week before Election Day.

"Up until today I would have said if the election was held today we would win. Now I'm saying we will win," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Tuesday night on CBS's The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

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President Trump began his rally in Wisconsin Wednesday night by condemning apparent explosive devices sent to former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others, saying that "any acts or threats of political violence are an attack on democracy itself."

"No nation can succeed that tolerates violence or the threat of violence as a method of political intimidation," Trump said, pledging an "aggressive investigation" that will bring the suspects to justice "hopefully very soon."

The Florida and Georgia races for governor — two of the most closely watched in the country — have been roiled in the past 24 hours by more scrutiny over alleged voter suppression, racist ads and newly ignited controversies over the Confederate flag and allegations of corruption involving the hit musical Hamilton.

The battle for the Senate is being fought on Republican-friendly turf, and with three weeks until Election Day the GOP is increasingly optimistic that the chamber will remain in the party's grasp.

Fears that a fiery Democratic opposition could turn the map upside down have abated some, now that the GOP base is more tuned in following the confirmation fight over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against President Trump by adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who claimed the president had defamed her earlier this year on Twitter.

The lawsuit was filed over a tweet Trump sent in April suggesting Daniels was lying about being threatened in 2011 not to go public with her story of an alleged sexual encounter with Trump.

President Trump warned at his rally in Pennsylvania on Wednesday night that if his party loses in November's midterm elections, the "radical Democrat mob" will take away everything he has achieved since his election, while encouraging crime and socialism.

It was an echo of something he's been saying a lot lately, including at rallies in Iowa and Kansas in recent days and on Twitter — a line that Republicans have been quick to seize upon as they try to sustain a newly-enthused GOP base in the wake of the divisive confirmation battle for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Updated at 8:47 p.m. ET

Judge Brett Kavanaugh was defiant and visibly angry as he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday afternoon, rebutting earlier emotional testimony from the woman who has accused him of sexual assault, Christine Blasey Ford.

Updated at 9:24 p.m. ET

During a rare press conference Wednesday, President Trump sent mixed messages about the fate of his embattled Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Updated at 7:30 p.m. ET

As the confirmation vote for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh neared, both parties had seen potential political benefits for them in the upcoming midterm elections.

For Republicans, it was a chance to energize the base by putting another conservative justice on the court, potentially reshaping it for a generation.

For Democrats, the specter of rolling back abortion rights, the Affordable Care Act and more was a way to further energize an already engaged liberal base to go to the polls.

Updated at 10:30 p.m. ET

The final primary before November's midterm elections saw a progressive challenger fall short of taking down the incumbent Democratic governor in New York.

Andrew Cuomo easily beat back a challenge from actress Cynthia Nixon, putting him on the path to a third term in office. He will be heavily favored against Republican nominee Marc Molinaro this fall.

Updated at 10:52 p.m. ET

Democrats backed by the state's political establishment rolled to victory in New Hampshire's primary Tuesday night, besting more progressive, outsider challengers in both the House and governor's races.

The most closely-watched and crowded race came in the state's open 1st congressional district, where New Hampshire Executive Councilor Chris Pappas topped the 11-way field.

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Updated at 3:20 p.m. ET

In his first major political speech in the U.S. since leaving office, former President Barack Obama argued that Americans must rebuke President Trump at the polls this November.

As both parties begin their final post-Labor Day sprint to Election Day, there are concrete signs that Democratic voters are fired up heading into the midterm elections.

Nowhere is that more evident than in the majority of states that have already held primaries. There's been massive increases in Democratic turnout while often a minimal uptick — or even noticeable dip — in turnout among Republican voters.

Democrats have a lot of diverse candidates running this year — a record number of women, African Americans and Native Americans running in high-profile races that they hope could lead them to a blue wave. But there's also been a surge of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender candidates all across the country who want to give that blue wave a rainbow tinge.

Updated 12:03 a.m. ET

Favorites of both the conservative and progressive movements scored surprising wins in Florida's gubernatorial primaries on Tuesday, setting up a competitive clash come November.

Voters go to the polls in Arizona and Florida today, picking nominees in critical Senate and gubernatorial races.

Weekend events could cast a pall over contests in both states, though. Arizona Sen. John McCain died on Saturday, and while it's the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Jeff Flake on the ballot Tuesday, both the late senator and President Trump — who did little to hide his disdain for McCain — have factored into the bitter primary there.

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