It was Stephen Colbert's second live election show special but unlike 2016, the CBS host was prepared this time around with a bottle of whiskey and low expectations.
"The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," which like many late night shows is usually taped earlier in the evening, aired live Tuesday so Colbert could weigh in on the midterm results in real time.
"We may collapse from all the pressure, but if we do at least we'll all crumble together," he said to the audience after a musical number that likened the state of the union to a leaky, imploding submarine with fire extinguishers that shot flames rather than flame-retardants.
Colbert tackled the divisive nature of 2018's congressional and gubernatorial campaigns and President Trump's xenophobic rallies in a litany of jokes that made light of a dark time in American culture and politics.
And he wasn't alone. As CNN, MSNBC and Fox announced each new projection as it flipped on their electoral smart board maps, late night's army of politically minded hosts tackled the subtext in real time.
"The Daily Show With Trevor Noah" dubbed its live broadcast "Democalypse 2018: Let's Try This Again, America." The Comedy Central dispensed with veiled terms like "racially charged," which had been used by careful news anchors and pundits in the roll-up coverage to Nov. 6, and referred to the midterms as "the day where voters were going to decide if America was racist ... or openly racist."
Republican Rick DeSantis was the people's choice for governor in Florida over Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, though DeSantis used derogatory language like "don't monkey this 1/8election3/8 up" when referring to his African American opponent, accepted contributions from a wealthy donor who tweeted a racial epithet about former President Obama, and spoke at several events organized by groups with extremist views on race and Islam.
Along with Trump's demonizing of migrant caravans, black sports figures and Middle Easterners, it showed the hateful ideals of segregation-era America were not just alive and well, but being used to successfully motivate voters. Hasan Minhaj, the former "Daily Show" correspondent who now has his own Netflix show, addressed the brown scare as Colbert's guest Tuesday. Be careful of them, said the son of migrants, about the caravan of migrants. They might be kids now, but they could grow up to be comics with their own show.
On "Late Night With Seth Meyers," the show's host was fired up as he tackled another aspect of 2018, midterm bigotry: Jim Crow-era tactics.
Commenting on power outages in the hotly contested Georgia governor's race, where voter suppression tactics plagued the election, Meyers said: "I knew 1/8incumbent Rep.3/8 Brian Kemp would try to strip black people of the power to vote but I didn't know he would literally take away their power to vote." Kemp's race against Stacey Abrams, who would be the first black female governor of the state if she wins, was still too close to call.
In the high-profile races of Georgia, Florida and Texas, Democrats hoped to upend opponents that ran on fear-mongering platforms with diverse candidates such as Beto O'Rourke but failed to dazzle with blue wave upsets in those traditionally red states. Conversely, Republicans were swept out of the House by Democrats in at least two dozen races where an unprecedented number of women and minorities flipped congressional House seats.
Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar of Michigan and Minnesota, respectively, became the first Muslim women ever elected to Congress. Texas also elected its first two Latinas to Congress while Colorado elected the nation's first openly gay governor.
But no one appeared entirely happy as election day drew to a close with many of the races still open. The country appeared more divided than it had been before the midterms. In New Jersey and San Diego, for example, constituents of Sen. Bob Menendez and Rep. Duncan Hunter voted along party lines despite high-profile corruption scandals.
Jimmy Kimmel opened his live show while votes were still being counted in many districts across the nation, and especially in the West. "America is in the doctor's office waiting for our STD results to come back," he joked. Because when Congress and the electorate are this divided, does anyone really win?
Addressing the nation's frayed nerves, Meyers called one of the only nonpartisan races of the night, " 'Late Night' can now project that bourbon has defeated Xanax," while the most grueling midterms ever rolled over into Wednesday.