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Hour By Hour: What To Watch on Election Night

WASHINGTON (AP) — Stock up on munchies and make sure the batteries in your TV remote are fresh. With this year's presidential election razor-close to the finish, Tuesday could be a long night.

Even if the presidency isn't decided until after midnight EST, there will be plenty of clues early in the evening on how things are going for President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney. Obama has more options for piecing together the 270 electoral votes needed for victory, so any early setbacks for Romney could be important portents of how the night will end.

Here's a timetable for armchair election watchers on how the night will unfold, based on what time the last polls close in each state. All times are EST.

—7 p.m.: Polls close in six states but all eyes will be on Virginia, the first of the battleground states to begin reporting results. If either candidate is comfortably ahead in Virginia, with 13 electoral votes, that could be a leading indicator of which way the night is going.

Virginia typically has been fairly fast at counting ballots. But there's a new voter ID law in the state that could complicate things this year. Voters who don't bring identification to the polls still can have their ballots counted if they produce ID by Friday. If the race in Virginia is super tight, it could come down to those provisional ballots. On Election Night, no one will even know how many of them are out there.

Virginia is especially important for Romney. In 2008, Obama became the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry Virginia since 1964. Keep an eye on turnout in northern Virginia's Democratic strongholds for an early idea of which way the state will go.

—7:30 p.m.: Polls close in three states, including all-important Ohio (18 electoral votes) and competitive North Carolina (15).

If Ohio is particularly close, and polls suggest it might be, there's a chance the outcome there won't be known until after Election Day, and the presidency could hinge on it. In the last several elections, between 2 percent and 3 percent of the state's votes came from provisional ballots, which aren't counted until later. In 2004, after a long, tense night counting votes, the presidential race wasn't decided until 11 a.m. the next day, when Democrat John Kerry called President George Bush to concede Ohio and the presidency.

Romney desperately needs Ohio; no Republican has won the presidency without it. Without Ohio, Romney would need victories in nearly all the remaining up-for-grabs states and he'd have to pick off key states now leaning Obama's way, such as Wisconsin and Iowa. Obama has more work-arounds than Romney if he can't claim Ohio.

In North Carolina, the most conservative of the hotly contested states, Romney appeared to have the late edge in polling. Obama, who narrowly won the state in 2008, has paid less attention to it recently. An Obama victory there could point to broader troubles for Romney.

—8 p.m.: More pieces of the puzzle will start falling into place as polls close in the District of Columbia and 16 states, including battlegrounds Florida (29) and New Hampshire (four).

Democratic-leaning parts of Florida tend to be the last places to report, so be careful about jumping to a conclusion if Romney looks strong early on. Most of the polls in Florida close at 7 p.m. Eastern, so by 8 p.m. Eastern, when the last polls close, results will start to roll out quickly. But fully 4.5 percent of votes in Florida weren't counted on election night in 2008, so if things are tight, no one's going to be hasty about declaring a victor in the state. Especially after the 2000 fiasco in which the winner in Florida, and thus the presidency, wasn't determined for more than a month. If you want to get really granular, Hillsborough County, home to Tampa, is widely considered a bellwether for the state.

Tiny New Hampshire is another competitive state to watch closely.

Also keep watch on Pennsylvania for any signs of a Romney surprise. The state has long been considered safe for Obama, but Republicans started running ads there in the final week of the campaign and the GOP ticket was campaigning there Sunday. No Republican presidential candidate has carried the state in nearly a quarter century.

—8:30 p.m.: Polls close in Arkansas (six), where Romney is comfortably ahead in surveys.

—9 p.m.: Polls close in 14 states, including battlegrounds Colorado (nine) and Wisconsin (10). Democrats have carried Wisconsin for six straight presidential elections and Obama had the edge in polling going in, so a flip here would be especially noteworthy.

Colorado, where almost 80 percent of voters cast early ballots, could be a straggler because it's so close. Historically, as much as 10 percent of the state's vote doesn't get counted on election night, and those ballots could be decisive in a close race.

Information from exit polls could help flesh out the Colorado picture: Young professionals and Hispanic voters were central to Obama's victory there in 2008, but the sluggish economy has hurt his standing.

Two more to watch: Minnesota and Michigan. The states long have been considered safe for Obama, but the Republicans made late moves there.

— 10 p.m.: Polls close in four states, including the last of the battlegrounds, Iowa (six) and Nevada (six).

Iowa's been leaning toward Obama, but watch how the vote breaks down geographically. Can Romney's advantage in GOP-heavy western Iowa overcome Obama's edge in eastern swing territory?

If Obama wins Ohio and Wisconsin, Romney would have to have help from the West, in places like Nevada and Colorado. Nevada, where two-thirds of the electorate votes early, has been moving Obama's direction in recent weeks, powered by strength in huge labor and Hispanic voting blocs. A Romney incursion there would really mean something

—11 p.m.: Polls close in five western states, but most are foregone conclusions for Obama. He gets 78 electoral votes from California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington; Romney gets four from Idaho.

— 1 a.m. Wednesday: The last of the polls close, in Alaska. Romney gets three electoral votes. Will many people still be up?

Political junkies could well be waiting to see how things play out in one or more battleground states.

by Anonymousreply 3911/06/2012

My dream is that Obama takes Virginia quickly, allowing the White House to be called for the Democrats very early on.

by Anonymousreply 111/04/2012

It might be decided early on. Romney could get a landslide if he gets Ohio and Wisconsin, as is now predicted.

by Anonymousreply 211/04/2012

If Ann pulls a Medea on the five boys, you know it's been a good night for us!

by Anonymousreply 311/04/2012

Your breasts are purulent, R2.

Get her, DLers.

by Anonymousreply 411/04/2012

Hope you are right R1

by Anonymousreply 511/04/2012

[quote] Romney could get a landslide if he gets Ohio and Wisconsin, as is now predicted. morons.

by Anonymousreply 611/04/2012

[quote]Romney could get a landslide if he gets Ohio and Wisconsin, as is now predicted.

No one with a shred of credibility is predicting a Romney win in Ohio and Wisconsin.

At this point, the only questionable states for the President are Florida and North Carolina. All the other battlegrounds look to be safely in his column.

by Anonymousreply 711/04/2012

R7 - Virginia and NH aren't safe for Obama. Otherwise, I agree with you.

by Anonymousreply 811/04/2012

{quote]Rafalca, Packing [boldHis[/bold] Suitcases

I'm not an equine Chaz Bono.

by Anonymousreply 911/04/2012

[quote]Rafalca, Packing [bold]His Suitcases[/bold]

I'm not an equine Chaz Bono.

by Anonymousreply 1011/04/2012

This is all manufactured by the media! A ploy for ratings!

The election is not close. Obama is surely to win and he will win early and handily.

by Anonymousreply 1111/04/2012

Yikes! Romney pulling ahead...

by Anonymousreply 1211/04/2012

That's from a few weeks ago, idiot troll.

by Anonymousreply 1311/04/2012

Double Yikes! Could be a sweep.

by Anonymousreply 1411/04/2012

You posted a poll from three weeks ago, troll at r14.

by Anonymousreply 1511/04/2012

Calm down R12

CNN is reacting to single polls and not putting them in context

"Last week, a CBS/New York Times/Quinnipiac poll of Wisconsin likely voters showed Obama was ahead of Romney, 50% to 47%. And a separate Marquette poll conducted late last month indicated the president was up by 11 points in Wisconsin."

They may be comparing apples and oranges. It's quite possible that he Marquette poll favors Dems, while the CBS polls favors Reps. They may be using different likely voter models, for instance.

by Anonymousreply 1611/04/2012

That's from August. What's the matter, can't find anything recent?

by Anonymousreply 1711/04/2012

current 538 Wisconsin stats:

Polling average--50.0/45.7 (Obama +4.3)

Adjusted polling average--50.0/45.2 (Obama +4.8)

State fundamentals--50.2/44.0 (Obama +6.2)

Now-cast--50.0/45.0 (Obama +5.0)

Projected vote share (+/- 3.1%)--52.0/47.1 (Obama +4.9)

Chance of winning--94%/6% t

by Anonymousreply 1811/04/2012

Breitbart! Well that settles that doesn't it?

From the Breitbart site...

[quote]Mitt Romney has maintained a small but persistent lead in the two most reliable national polls, Gallup and Rasmussen.

That in itself is hysterical.

Followed by...

[quote]President Obama has consistently led in most of these crucial states, sometimes by wide margins that felt counter-intuitive when compared to the national polls.

Well, whatever caused that -- Obama's spending advantage

Yes, Obama's BIG spending advantage over Bain Capital Mitt and Citizens United Rove

by Anonymousreply 1911/04/2012

We're all gay men on the DL, hon.

by Anonymousreply 2011/04/2012

"Mitt Romney has maintained a small but persistent lead in the two most reliable national polls, Gallup and Rasmussen."

That is the funniest thing I've heard this week.

by Anonymousreply 2111/04/2012

I say Obama with 281. No FLA or VA or Colorado.

by Anonymousreply 2211/04/2012

This is hilarious. The final PEW poll shows Obama winning 50 to 47, so what is Breitbart's headline?

[quote] Pew: Romney Holds Turnout Edge Ahead of Vote

by Anonymousreply 2311/04/2012

Wow, now even Michigan'a heading towards Romney in Poll TODAY!

by Anonymousreply 2411/04/2012

The Washington Post also has a good hour-by-hour, state-by-state guide. It includes Senate, House and initiative races as well. See link.

by Anonymousreply 2511/05/2012

And yet, on the eve of the election, Nate Silver gives the President a 91.4 percent chance of winning!

But, in the face of all this overwhelming and irrefutable evidence of a Rmoney sweep tomorrow (maybe he'll even carry NY, CA, and DC!!!!), how could Nate be so very, very wrong??

by Anonymousreply 2611/05/2012

I hear that Romney is now poised to take Vermont and Hawaii. Oh noes!

by Anonymousreply 2711/05/2012

FMWB is a notorious GOP hack pollster.

by Anonymousreply 2811/05/2012

4 gay marriage initiatives, people--that'll make it interesting as Obama has this in the bag.

by Anonymousreply 2911/05/2012

Virginia: Don't get confused election night. In 2008, McCain led in reported votes until very late, like 11:30 EST. The northern VA vote just wasn't in yet, and when it finally did come it, Obama had a confortable win. So don't get bent out of shape with the early raw vote from VA.

by Anonymousreply 3011/05/2012

R26 He just upped it to 92.2. Amazing that he keeps updating up to the last minute! Love it!

by Anonymousreply 3111/05/2012

Now down to 92.0/315.2.

by Anonymousreply 3211/05/2012

I'm assuming Nate is Jewish and cut, correct?

by Anonymousreply 3311/05/2012

10 a.m. Wednesday: Rafalca's on her way to the glue factory.

by Anonymousreply 3411/05/2012

I think you all are forgetting about the "Bradley Effect"

by Anonymousreply 3511/05/2012

I think not R35. The "Bradley Effect" is just a last-gasp hope of bigoted right-wingers. It hasn't mattered for a long time.

by Anonymousreply 3611/05/2012

Polls closing in 6 states in 1 hour!

by Anonymousreply 3711/06/2012

Dang -- Romney winning in FL and VA.

by Anonymousreply 3811/06/2012

R38 - VA is still voting.

by Anonymousreply 3911/06/2012
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