Due to the incessant chatter on Facebook & Twitter, the closeness of the race, and the fact that I now spend 12 hours a day in front of my computer at home (alone), I have never been more focused on an election in my life. And that is saying something, because I’ve been a political loser since I first learned to differentiate the colors red and blue. In any event, just like 4 years ago, in preparation for the big day I’ve created a quick home-made viewing guide. For simplicity’s sake I discuss only the Presidential race, key Senate races, and Ballot initiatives. I have omitted close House races (except in IL), because there are dozens and dozens.
Feel free to print this off as a checklist while watching the returns on Tuesday.
Election Day 2012 – As it Unfolds
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
-Eastern Standard Times-
*6am: VOTE – Tell others to vote. Post a FB status about voting. Shame co-workers and classmates into voting. This is especially important if you think those others will vote for the same people you will. But, even if not, still encourage. It’s over the top cliche, but it must be said: This Voting Thing Is Kind of Important. We do not live in Iran. President Obamadinejad will not win a crushing 98% of the vote no matter what the actual tally. This is not just some symbolic act of patriotism, it’s what guides our whole system. Do it. (Yes, this is true even if you do not live in a swing state…Presidential politics isn’t everything, in fact, its often not even the most important thing.)
*6am-7pm: You have several options here. More than likely you will want to call off sick from work and/or skip your classes. The anxiety will likely be too much to take anyway, so it’s best not to tax the mind. A nap will probably be needed around 6:45am, as soon as you get back from the polling place. When you wake up from that nap around 1pm, you’ll slowly want to prepare snacks, get into comfortable clothes, and feed the dog.
Also, you’ll want to pay attention to reports on weather conditions and turnout numbers. I’ll talk more about this later, but here’s the current line: Turnout matters far more for Obama. It may not be as strong as 2008, but if there is a marked drop, he is in trouble.
Lastly, throughout this time, come back to this blog and post some comments about your voting experience, perceptions, etc. I’ll be sitting at this screen biting my nails like a moron and in need of as much calming influence as possible.
*7pm: The first polls close: Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia .
-Presidential Race: Romney will take GA, IN, KY, and SC. Obama will win VT. All eyes here will be on VA. In fact, the early signs out of VA will tell us a LOT about how the night will go. The VA polls will likely be ‘too close to call’ at first. However, if Obama is holding his own or leading here, then Romney is in trouble. Both candidates can win even if they lose VA, but it is far more important for Romney.
[NOTE: Be careful not to read too much into the numbers that first come out with a small percentage of precincts reporting from each state. We are rarely told exactly which precincts have reported. They could be D or R strongholds and thus skew everything. In other words, don't read too much into the results until a substantial % of precincts have reported. Also, some states will be called by the networks the second that the polls close, but that is because the vote is overwhelmingly in one candidate's favor. None of the swing states will be called that early, it will take a bit longer.]
-Senate: The VA Senate race is also huge (perhaps the closest in the country)- Allen (R) v. Kaine (D). Allen is a former Senator who lost 6 years ago. Kaine is the former head of the Democratic National Convention (and close ally of Obama). The fate of Kaine & Obama are likely tied to one another in the state, however, it is not imposible for Obama to lose VA and Kaine to still pull out the win. Also you might be interested in keeping an eye on the IN Senate race where Tea-Party backed Murdock (R) (the guy who made the rape/God’s plan comment) seemed to be losing at the last minute to Donnelly (D).
*7:30pm: More polls close: North Carolina, Ohio, West Virginia
-Presidential Race: Herein lies the key to the entire election: O.h.i.o. If Obama holds OH it is incredibly dificult to see how Romney gets to 270 electoral college votes. This one won’t be called for awhile after polls close, but is by far the mostly likely state to decide everything. WV is going to Romney. NC, while considered a swing state, is likely to also go to Romney. Keep an eye on the vote margin in NC, however. If it is neck and neck, that means that Romney is underperforming a touch, which might spell trouble.
-Senate: Shouldn’t be many shocks, though if the Republican’s overperform than OH incumbent Brown (D) might be a surprise loser to the young state treasurer, Mandel (R)
*8:00pm: Huge swath of states will close their polls: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee
-Presidential Race: Romney will add most southern states to his column immediately, AL, MS, MO, OK, and TN. Obama will take CT, DE, DC, IL, ME, MD, MA, NJ, PA, and RI. Romney made a last second ploy in PA, but it likely won’t matter (McCain did the same thing). The two keys here are NH and FL. NH doesn’t have too many EC votes, but in an election that could literally tie, those votes matter. FL is the real key here. I’ll say this, if Romney does not win FL, he will not win the election . I cannot see how he loses this state (the swing state with the most EC votes) and cobbles together enough wins in other states to pull this out. As with Virgnia, this is one of those that matters hugely for Romney.
At this point, the three most important states will all have stopped voting: VA, OH, FL. We are already likely to know a bit about the state of things in VA and OH. But from this point on focus intently on all news regarding those three states.
-Senate: MANY important Senate races ending now. CT will be an interesting one to watch, former WWF CEO Linda McMahon (R) is trying for the seat again, though she’s been down a few points in recent polls against Rep. Murphy (D). If the Republicans have any chance of taking over the Senate, they will definitely need to be winning these races. If they don’t seem to be pulling some of these out at this point, then its highly unlikely they will take over. The FL Senate seat should stay with incumbent Nelson (D), but if the Republican have a great day, its not out of the question for Rep. Mack (R) to upset him. The ME race is interesting, as Independent candiate Angus King will likely win. He has not said which party he will caucus with, though most suspect the Democrats. The MA race is perhaps the most high-profile one in the country with incumbent Brown (R) trying to fend off Harvard Prof. Elizabeth Warren (D). The latest polls have Warren pulling ahead by a few points.The MS Senate race should also be looked at closely to see if Todd “legitimate rape” Akin (R) is able to somehow mount a comeback (unlikely) against incumbent McCaskill (D).
[EXTRA: If you enjoy seeing one of the more ridiculous, radical members of the House, Rep. Allen West (R) sweat it out, he's facing a spirited Democratic challenger in Florida. For those of us who like moderation, it would be sweet to see this man lose his seat.]
-Other: Two marriage equality amendments on the ballot. Keep a close eye on a ballot measure in ME that seeks to allow gay marriage in the state. Voters in the state voted down a similar measure two years ago, so it will be very interesting to see if there has been enough of a change of opinion since then. Here’s the thing, we’ve been up in the polls there at the same rate that we were up in the polls last time around, but we lost last time around. So this will be a huge test case to see if, even though opinion seems to be shifting nationwide, voters are actually changing their mind and not secretly stepping into the booth and voting against equality for their neighbors. Also, voters in MD will be deciding whether to keep the law signed by their Governor this year to allow gay marriage. MD offers our best chance at winning, I think. I’ll be on pins and needles.
There are two interesting ballot initiatives out of the state of FL that piqued my interest because of their connection to a concept near and dear to my heart: the separation of church and state. The first bans all federal funding for use on abortions, including in cases of rape. The second repeals a previous amendment that banned use of public funds for religious groups. Essentially, these are two hot-button items drawn up to stir up the religious feuding in the state. It’ll be a good barameter to how these issues are playing at the moment.
-Illinois: Those back home in IL have a considerable number of contested House elections. After all, this is the first election since the Re-districting, which, in our case, was controlled by the Democrats. The hot races include incumbents Walsh (R) likely losing to Duckworth (D), Dold (R) facing an uphill battle against Schneider (D), and Biggert (R) struggling to survive against Foster (D). You’ll notice these are are Republican incumbents who may very well lose to Democrats, in other words, the state’s delegation will likely tilt more Blue after this. Also, there are few toss-ups that could go either way, (Davis (R) v. Gill (D), Schilling R) v. Bustos (D), and Enyart (D) v. Plummer (R)).
*8:30pm: Arkansas closes
-Romney wins. Move along.
*9pm: Another wave: Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin, Wyoming
-Presidential Race: Results will be streaming from all over at this point. We may essentially already have elected Obama if states like VA and OH are clearly in his camp. Though, its unikely for them to be called this early. If nothing else, we will know the main trends. If Romney is performing well there, then he may be in for a good night. One thing to note, in 2008 OH was called for Obama at about 9:25pm. If something similar happens here, then it’s probably over. Though, I expect networks to be far more careful this year.
From this group give Romney AZ, KS, LA, NB, ND, SD, TX, and WY. Give Obama NY, MI, NM. CO is the most important here, as it’s one of the swing states that has a decent chance of going to Romney. MN is an interesting case that should go to Obama, but, if Romney is having a good night, things might be different. Ditto for WI. This was original thought to be pretty safe for Obama, but its a toss-up now. This is VP candidate Ryan’s home state, so it very well could fall for the R ticket.
-Senate: The NB Senate Race should go to Fischer (R), but if the Dem’s do decent overall, there is a chance former Senator Kerry (D) could get his seat back. The AZ race is a toss-up, with Flake (R) desperately needing to hold off Carmona (D) to keep the R’s Senate hopes alive. Also, there is an interesting race in ND, where the Democratic candidate Heitkampt (D) has at least a shot at taking the seat against Berg (R)–not a common thing in the red state of ND. The WI seat is the one I will be watching closely. It’s tight, but Tammy Baldwin (D) may become the first openly-gay U.S. Senator in history is she pulls it out against Tommy Thompson (R).
[EXTRA: Another House race to keep on the radar if you enjoy watching some radical get their cumuppence, keep an eye on Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R) face the toughest reelection of her Congressional career. She's thrown a ton of money into the race, and still should win, but it's not out of the question for her to be knocked off]
-Other: MN has a proposition on the ballot to change their constitution to ban same-sex couples from marrying. Gay couples will not be able to marry there regardless of the outcome, but beating back this one will send a strong message. Of the 4 gay marriage-related ballot measures, I think this one is the biggest uphill battles for my team.
Also, observers might be interested in a hotly costed CO measure that would legalize marijuana–it’s be treated like alcohol. Importantly, this is NOT a medical marijuana measure–its the full monty of legalizaiton. It would still bump up against federal law, causing a range of legal issues, but it’d be a sign that the long-term direction of this issue might be moving toward legalization.
Those interested in labor issues will also want to watch a measure in MI to preserve certain union rights constitutionally. This is likely a pre-emptive step to prevent what happened in WI happening in MI.
*10pm: Polls will be closing in Iowa, Montana, Nevada, Utah
-Presidential Race: What matter here is not so much the states that have polls closing, but the status of the races in VA, FL, and OH. Have any of them been called? If so, but how much? We may be getting very close to having selected the president for the next four years OR we could know that we are in line for a very long night.
Of the states here, Romney will take MT and UT. IA and NV are toss-ups, though almost everyone expects Obama to win NV. IA will be closer.
-Senate: There are hot races in NV and MT. Nevada is toss up between Heller (R) and Berkely (D). And MT is fight with incumbent Tester (D) and Ehnberg (R). These could go either way, watch close.
[EXTRA: On the let's-watch-radical-Republicans-sweat-it-out watch, Rep. King (R)--one of the leaders who has stoked fury after gay marriage was legalized in IA (and is a windbag)--is facing a somewhat tough re-election against the wife of the former governor, Vilsak (D). King will likely win, but it'd be nice to see a surprise here].
*11pm: The states on the Pacific will be bringing this election to a close: California, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon, Washington.
-Presidential Race: Obama will take all of these states except ID. Of course, at this point we will just be looking to how the swing states are shaking out. That will be all that matters on a presidential level. In 2008, at 11pm, Obama was named the next President by all networks.
-Senate: Nothing all too interesting here, the HI seat may cause fireworks, but Hirono (D) should beat Lingle (R). Focus your attention on the races that will still be “too close to call” at this point.
-Other: WA voters will be deciding whether to keep a law passed by their legislature and signed by the governor legalizing gay marriage. I have great hopes for this one, but I’ve been burned every single time a gay marriage issue has been on the ballot in the past, so I’m trying not to overplay my optimism. We shall see.
Also, WA and OR also may legalize marijuana. For those keeping track, that brings a total of three states that may do so: WA, OR, and CO. From what I gather, these propositions are tight, so you’ll want to pay attention if this issue matters to you.
*1am: Alaska officially ends it all. They will vote for the Republican ticket even though they do not have a home-stater on the ballot this time around.
So what else will be going on at this point? Hard to say. I’d guess that we will have selected the president for the next four years by now. Some states might still be counting, but someone will likely have already crossed the 270 threshold, that is particularly true if Obama seems to be winning. In other words, Romney has fewer paths to victory; he needs to take more of the swing states than Obama. And so, if Romney is doing well and might pull it out, then we will need to watch until these later state tallies come in. On the other hand, if Obama wins some of the big early swing states, then it is likely over and the later tallies won’t matter as much.
Beyond that the things to pay attention to now are the intersting ballot measures and the key Senate races that are extra close.
Also, if you started drinking wine, whiskey, or beer earlier in the night (likely at the point when some negative news came in), then at this time you might begin yelling at the TV or computer screen. Or you could be cracking open the champagne.
P.S. I’ll be glued to the computer and this blog for 24 straight hours on election day. In lieu of an election party, I hope that you come back here and share your thoughts throughout the day in comments. It’s the best alternative to being in a room full of other people discussing the results as they roll in.