What to watch for tonight…

Okay. It’s election day, and tonight many people will be watching returns.

Here are some things to watch – by hour (all times EST):

7:00pm — Polls close in Indiana, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia.

In the presidential race, Indiana and Virginia will be the first key. Networks may not call these races early in the night, to be sure the returns match their exit polling. Georgia and Kentucky senate seats are two races to watch: Republican incumbents have small leads in late polling, but if the races are not called early for them, it could mean trouble — and an early sign of Democrats getting to 60 votes in the Senate. Also in the Senate, the open Virginia seat will turn to a Democrat easily.

7:30pm — Polls close in Ohio, North Carolina, and West Virginia.

In the presidential race, Ohio and North Carolina are two of the toss up states — both will probably not be called early. If NC is called for McCain, then we could be looking at an interesting night. If West Virginia is not called for McCain early, that could point to a larger landslide for Obama. North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole is in a tough fight here, and Democrat Kay Hagan is leading in late polling; but that race probably won’t be called before the presidential race.

8:00pm — Polls close in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington DC.

This will be the fun time to start scanning the various networks. Although only Florida, Indiana, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania are really interesting. The presidential races in the rest of the states are probably well-known. From the Senate perspective, only New Hampshire will be interesting, but the Democrats are expected to win that seat.

By now, we should see Obama with 78 and McCain with 69 electoral votes, but a lot of states may still be shown as too close to call (Indiana, Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania – a total of 123 electoral votes).

8:30pm — Polls close in Arkansas.

A state that should go to McCain – so no news at the bottom of the hour.

9:00pm — Polls close in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

This is another big hour, but only Colorado is really a toss-up. Expect the rest of the states to be called for Obama or McCain. The tally of electoral votes in “called” stats should be 155 for Obama and 145 for McCain. The question will be when the earlier states will have enough returns to justify calling them for either candidate.

The Senate race in Minnesota will be interesting if Al Franken can pull off the upset. Two Democrats named Udall (first-cousins, in fact) will win open Republican Senate seats in Colorado and New Mexico. Mary Landrieu in Lousiana could be the only Democrat at risk in the Senate.

10:00pm — Polls close in Iowa, Montana, Nevada, and Utah.

Nevada has been a toss up in many polls so it may not go early, and if all of the early states are still in play, Obama will have a 162-153 lead in “called” states.

By this time, we may see some of these “too close” states called: Indiana, Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, Missouri, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Colorado – a total of 132 electoral votes that could still be available.

11:00pm — Polls close in California, Hawaii, Idaho, North Dakota, Oregon, and Washington.

The Oregon Senate seat is the 9th to watch tonight – as it looks to flip to the Democrats.

Still, by the end of “prime time” in the east, 49 states and the District of Columbia will have finished voting. None of these states should be surprises, so without the “too close” states, Obama is winning 239 to 160 — and only needs 31 electoral votes to win the presidency.

1:00am — Polls close in Alaska

There are two reasons why Alaska will be interesting. First, an early victory by Obama could actually have an impact on the Senate race here. Incumbent Republican Ted Stevens is facing a tough challenge, especially after being convicted for failing to report gifts. Will Democrats stay in line late to vote against Stevens when their presidential candidate has already won? Especially when Alaska will safely vote for their favorite daughter? This could be the difference between 59 and 60 for the Democrats.

When will it end?

My guess is 11:00pm will be when we know who has won the presidential race. Networks won’t want to call many of the big states before this time, because their efforts could have an impact on voting in the Western states.

It will be an interesting night!

About Jim Johnson

Editor and publisher of The State of Sunshine.
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One Response to What to watch for tonight…

  1. I am 22 and I’d like to capture my thoughts before America either elects a president who its first 26 presidents could have legally owned, or brazenly subverts the very ideals it was founded upon by manipulating numbers in a final embarrassingly overt goosestep towards corporate totalitarianism.

    I am nervous. And not night-before-the-swim-test nervous or even night-you-lose-your-virginity nervous, it’s a low rumbling primal panic which I can only liken to Star Wars panic. Disney panic. The edge-of-your-seat-terror that makes you wonder if Skywalker’s doomed after he refuses to join Darth Vader and drops down into the abyss, if the wicked octopus or grand vizier or steroid-pumping-village-misogynist is going to wed/kill/skin the dashing prince and then evil people in dark funny costumes are going to take over the world… if it wasn’t a movie of course.

    And tonight it’s not. It’s not a movie and yet I feel like Obama might as well be wearing an American flag cape while a decaying McCain, in a high-tech robotic spider wheelchair wearing an eyepatch and stroking an evil cat, gives orders to a sexy scheming Palin who marches back and forth through their sub-terranian campaign lair in four inch thigh-highs and full-body black leather catsuit bossing around the evangelical ants with a loooooong whip… umm… is this just me?

    Anyway, the point is that things feel weird folks. I have friends who have peed in waterbottles to keep from interrupting a Halo-playing marathon who got off their asses/couches to volunteer for the Obama campaign not once, but many times. Friends so cheap their body content is at least 1/3 Ramen Noodle who donated a good deal of their hard-earned cash to the campaign. People have registered to vote in record numbers, and yet, something just doesn’t feel right. I think we should stop congratulating ourselves for just voting. To vote is a privilege which people have died for, and I think there’s a whole lot more to be done for the country than to simply help win an election every 4 years.

    Hundreds of millions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of man-hours spent on both sides by good-intentioned people who want to make a difference in an historic election, so many resources and voices and energies devoted to a single day. After tomorrow, half of that is going to have been a waste. And I can’t help but wonder what could have happened if all that muscle had been put towards something else, and what will happen to its momentum after the election has come and gone. Shouldn’t we be donating our money to good causes whenever we can? Helping people who don’t have? Dedicating some of our time to contribute to making the country which provides for us a better place? Of course a power shift is a hugely significant step on the path to great reform, but worrying about this election has been a wakeup call for me:

    Even if Obama wins, we have not “won.” This isn’t a movie and we can’t toss every greedy lobbyist oil fatcat bigot down a reactor shaft. I think if we dedicate ourselves to the ongoing welfare of the country as much as we have to the outcome of this election, we’ll have a much better shot at coming closer to the overwhelming good the liberals hope Obama will usher in, but which no mere mortal could fully realize alone.

    Which brings me to the other side. I’ve heard a lot of people claim that if McCain wins, they’re leaving. I heard the same thing about Bush’s reelection, and his unelection before that, and nobody seems to be leaving. And that’s fine. Because as much as I complain about certain political happenings, atrocities, etc., I really do like it here and I suspect most other people do too. We have New York and Hollywood, purple mountain’s majesty and sea to shining sea, we created jazz and country music and baseball and cars and lightbulbs and computers and that movie with hundreds of animated singing Chihuahuas! I mean who among the shivering Plymouth pilgrims ever imagined ordering hundreds of animated singing chihuahuas onto a magical box from an invisible information superweb?

    The point being, if things don’t turn out the way I want tomorrow, I feel compelled, as a college-graduated adultish-type-person, to take a stand. And if I’m going to leave I’m going to leave. But if I’m going to stay I’m not going to sit around whining like I have for the past 8 years. It’s like when I don’t clean my room because it’s dirty and then I blame the dirt. So in my very indecisive way, before you and your screen, I’m declaring my intention to make some kind of stand in the event of -(Ican’tevensayit)-, and encouraging you to consider making one too…

    Jump the ship or grab a bucket?
    Wasn’t everything so much easier back when the worst possible affront to your values was a PB&J sandwich cut diagonally with crust?

    Anyways, I guess what I’m saying is that if we’re going to stay on board, we should probably be generous with our time and resources when times are tough even more than when the hero saves the day. Because what if he doesn’t? And what if he can’t? If we’re serious about real change, election day should only be the beginning of “Yes we can,” not the end.

    Hannah Friedman

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