Domenico Montanaro

Even as Democrats and Republicans spend 2018 vying to win key races around the country, a larger legal battle underway this year could reshape the American political map — literally.

By June, the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to decide three major redistricting cases — out of Wisconsin, Maryland and Texas — that will lay some of the foundation for what the maps will look like, not just this year, but after the 2020 census that could affect control of Congress for the next decade.

The state of those legal cases and other key ones (that could affect 2018 and 2020) are below.

President Trump delivered one of the longest State of the Union speeches in history.

Clocking in at one hour and 20 minutes, it was the third longest, behind two from President Bill Clinton in 2000 and 1995.

If you missed the speech, we promise to catch you up in far less time than that (so, you're welcome).

Here are eight key moments and themes:

1. Not much new policy

Democrats are celebrating wins in the two biggest races on election night 2017. The party will hold the governors' offices in New Jersey and Virginia. The Virginia race was causing Democrats worry in the final days.

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So, 2018 picked up where 2017 left off with eye-popping palace intrigue mixed with the widening net of the Department of Justice's Russia investigation.

The week's highlights included tabloidlike, tell-all details from the new book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House with explosive on-the-record and blind quotes from White House insiders. The president reacted by eviscerating his former chief strategist Steve Bannon, accusing him of losing his mind and branding him "Sloppy Steve."

You can bet campaign managers for sitting Republican senators up for re-election this year are smiling.

Heck, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is. The official McConnell Senate Committee tweeted a GIF of the grinning majority leader.

In the power struggle among various power centers vying for President Trump's attention, the president was thrown into the arms of McConnell with Trump's evisceration of former chief strategist Steve Bannon.

The Senate returns Wednesday, and President Trump made his way back to Washington on Monday after lying fairly low to end the year in Palm Beach, Fla., at his personal resort.

His first year was a mixed bag of legislative accomplishments (tax overhaul) and failures (health care), the book is still out on his foreign policy posture, and the Russia probe continues.

So what should we expect in 2018? There are four areas of domestic policy the president is particularly focused on, according to the White House — immigration, infrastructure, welfare and health care.

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The Russia probe, led by special counsel Robert Mueller, was chosen as the top political story of the year.

It narrowly beat out the sweeping story of fallout from sexual harassment, which touched on every industry, caused the resignations of a senator and members of Congress and continues.

The selection happened through Twitter, where more than 4,700 users voted on the final matchup of a March Madness-style 64-story tournament.

Fallout from sexual harassment, former FBI Director James Comey's firing and the ensuing Russia probe by special counsel Robert Mueller are all in strong positions to be the top political stories of 2017.

Will there be an upset Thursday? Voting begins at 8:30 a.m. ET and will close at noon ET, when voting will begin on the final eight. (VOTE HERE!)

It was a pretty predictable first round of voting in the NPR Top Political Story of the Year Bracket.

The top seeds all advanced easily. The only upset was 10-seeded Anthony Scaramucci's 10 days in the White House breezing past the far-more important New York Truck Attack, which was a 7-seed.

Updated at 2:10 p.m. ET

So much happened in 2017, it's hard to believe.

Ranking the top stories of the year is nearly impossible, especially with so many consequential, eye-popping and fast-moving things that happened.

Despite some last-minute challenges, Republicans appear to have the votes to give President Trump his first legislative victory.

Final passage of the bill that will reshape the tax system and touch nearly every American is expected early this week, possibly Tuesday or Wednesday.

It will be Trump's first significant legislative accomplishment, not a bad Christmas gift for a president, who often boasts of lesser successes.

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Election Day is finally here in Alabama's U.S. Senate race.

Updated at 5:12 p.m. ET

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., deciding to resign from the Senate on Thursday amid allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct now sets off a chain of events that could give Republicans an unexpected target in 2018.

Here's a look at how it would all play out:

What would happen right away?

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The re-examination of sexual misconduct that has swept entertainment and media is now focused more tightly on Congress.

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Sexual assault allegations against Roy Moore have reverberated from Alabama to Washington, D.C.

Many Republican leaders have pulled their support from Moore. They include Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, the head of National Republican Senatorial Committee, which is in charge of electing GOP senators.

On his Asia trip last week, somewhere over Vietnam on Air Force One, President Trump told reporters he had asked Vladimir Putin again if Russia had interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.

"He said he didn't meddle," the president said. "He said he didn't meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times."

Trump added: "Every time he sees me, he says, 'I didn't do that.' And I believe — I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it. ... I think he is very insulted by it, if you want to know the truth."

Democrats won up and down the ballot Tuesday night, notably in the governors' races in Virginia and New Jersey. The victories were a much needed sigh of relief for a party that hadn't had any high-profile victories at the ballot box during the first year of the Trump presidency — despite his record-low approval ratings.

Here are seven takeaways from what happened Tuesday and what it means:

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Donald Trump won the votes of whites without a college degree by a bigger margin than any Republican presidential candidate since 1980. And there is reason for that. He gave voice to a group of people who have felt left behind.

"Every single American will have the opportunity to realize his or her fullest potential," Trump said in his election night victory speech, one year ago this week. "The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer."

Updated at 2:16 p.m. ET

The week started with "legal shock and awe," as Carrie Johnson, NPR's Justice correspondent described it on the PBS NewsHour.

It's hard to believe it was only Monday that indictments were handed down stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia.

Hillary Clinton seemed startled by the question.

But asked Monday night at an event promoting her new book what she was going as for Halloween, she said, "I have to start thinking about it. ... I think I will maybe come as the president."

It wasn't clear whether she meant President Trump or just "as president."

That got laughs. But if you're like Clinton and maybe pulling on a Trump mask or a Sean Spicer lectern or maybe even a Hillary Clinton pantsuit for Halloween Tuesday, you'll be like roughly 2 percent of the population.

There is lots to watch this week, from a potentially make-or-break stretch on the tax overhaul President Trump so badly wants to social media network officials testifying about what they knew and when they knew it about Russian-linked ads that may have helped influence the 2016 presidential election.

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Updated at 11:53 a.m. ET.

There is a political crackup happening in America.

There remain two major political parties in this country, but there are stark fissures within each. There seem to be roughly at least four stripes of politics today — the pragmatic left (think: Obama-Clinton, the left-of-center establishment Democrats), the pragmatic right (the Bush-McCain-Bob Corker Republican), the populist right (Trump's America) and the populist left (Bernie Sanders liberals).

Updated Monday, Oct. 23 at 6:08 p.m. ET

When backed into a corner, President Trump digs in and fights back.

It's what he's done as president, it's what he did as a candidate and it's what he did as a businessman.

Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, one of the four U.S. soldiers killed in a military operation in Niger on Oct. 4, told ABC's Good Morning America that President Trump "made me cry even worse" when he called to offer condolences last week.

The phone call between the president and Johnson has been a source of controversy for a week now, since Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., who listened in on the call, revealed details of the conversation.

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