Election Day is my Super Bowl. Here is a 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.
It may be helpful on on the big day to print off as a checklist.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
-Central Standard Times-
*6am-5pm: Prepare snacks, get into comfortable clothes, take care of any unfinished work, call friends/family to ensure that they have voted, scour the TV to hear reports of weather conditions and turnout numbers
*5pm: The first polls close: Indiana and Kentucky.
-Presidential Race: McCain will take KY. IN is the key. The IN polls will likely be ‘too close to call’ at first. If Obama looks to be leading, than he is shaping up for a landslide.
[*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]
-Senate: The KY Senate race matters- McConnell (R) v. Lunsford (D). McConnell is the Senate Minority leader (essentially the highest ranking Republican in Congress). McConnell is leading slighlty in the polls right now, but it is much closer than it should be. I assume he’ll surivive, but if that race is close at this point, than we are very much looking at a Democratic tidal wave.
*6pm: More East coast polls close: Florida, Georgia, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia
-Presidential Race: McCain will win SC handily. Obama will take VT and NH without question. The three to watch here are GA, VA, and one of keys to the entire election, FL. McCain should take GA and Obama should take VA, but the margin of victory in each will be telling. FL is the granddaddy. Quite frankly, McCain must win it. If this is called for Obama early, then game over.
-Senate: Watch the GA race- The incumbent Chambliss (R) should have a slam dunk, but an upset is not out of the question. If Martin (D), his oppenent, somehow manages to pull this out, then we are witnesses a route. The Senate seats in both VA and NH have the Democrat pulling away, both will be pick-ups for the Ds.
-Other: Florida’s Amendment 2 is on the ballot which would amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage. Right now 55% support the amendment (depressing), but the amendment requires 60% of the vote to pass. State law already bans gay marriage in FL anyway, but this amendment seeks to prevent the courts from one day declaring that the statute is unconstitutional, like what happened in CA.
*6:30pm: The closing begins to move west: North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia
-Presidential Race: McCain will take WV, I think by a clear margin. But NC and OH are huge, especially OH. NC is polling as 50-50; no one will know which way it’ll lean. My gut says the leaners that typically go for the Republican will still go for the Republican, so don’t be surprised when McCain pulls it out. But OH is the real prize. In conjunction with FL, it is another must win for McCain. Polling has Obama up by enough, but one never knows. Pay close attention.
-Senate: The NC race is a must watch: The incumbent Dole (R) against challenger Hagan (D). Most are predicting that Dole will fall here, something that no one would have guessed just a few months ago. For the Dems to pick up their filibuster proof majority, than Hagan must take this seat.
*7pm: The floodgates open up: Alabama, Conneticut, Delware, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas
-Presidential Race: It is at this time that things will really begin to shape up. We may begin to get real results in from the states that had closed before this. Look to see if IN and other early states have been called for either candidate.
As far as this block of states go, we are all over the board. The ones to watch here are ND, MO and PA. North Dakota should be McCain’s, but it looks very tight. There aren’t many EV at stake, but it’s an indication of a wave or no wave. Missouri is very close (slight McCain advantage), and the state has picked the ultimate winner in most all of the presdential elections of the last 60 years. However, I think this year may be the exception. PA is where McCain needs a miracle. He loses PA, he loses the election. I’ve said that three times now, but it’s true. PA, OH, FL–that is where the election ultimately begins and ends.
-Senate: The Mississippi seat may be in play. The special election to replace retired Sen. Trent Lott pits appointee Wicker (R) against former governor Musgrove (D). This seat certainly trends Republican, and they should have no problem holding it in a typical year. However, if the Obama effect does swing big, then Musgrove could be a surprise winner.
-Illinois: The IL House race to watch is in the tenth district; it is a nailbiter rematch from two years ago between the incumbent Kirk (R) and the Dan Seals (D). The district includes the areas directly north of Chicago…cities like Highland Park, Waukegan, Buffalo Grove, Arlington Heights, and Northbrook. A lot will depend on Obama’s coattails. Kirk is a moderate Republican who should be tailored to fit the district. If Obama were not on the ticket, I’d say he’d be fine. I still think he’ll squeak it out, but it’ll worth watching. The other IL House races are much easier to pick: Halvorson, Schock, Foster, Roskam, Bean, etc…
Also, pay attention to the status of the Constitutional Convention vote. Every 20 years, residents vote on whether they’d like to convene a Constitutional Convention to meet and potentially revise anything, everything, or nothing in the state constitution. Its seems that the measure will be defeated, but if it happens to pass, there could be many state fireworks over the next year.
Finally, I’ll be paying close attention to some hotly contested IL House/Senate races. Essentially, it will be a matter of how many seats (if any) the Democrats pick up to pad their caucues majorities in both chambers. It’s a mixed bag…i.e. even more D control would be encouraging for something like the civil unions bill but discouraging for the state’s ability to actually put together a stream-lined budget.
*7:30pm: Arkansas closes its polling doors.
-Presidential Race: McCain will take the state easily.
-Senate: There is no Senate race.
-Other: There is a ballot initiative (Act 1) that would ban gay couples from adopting children and taking in foster kids. Terribly sad. The polling looks good though, and barring some surprise, the Act will be defeated.
*8pm: Another big stream of Midwest/West states finish up: Arizona, Coloroda, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Wyoming.
-Presidential Race: Results will be streaming from all over at this point. We may essentially already have elected Obama if results from states like IN, NC, and FL have gone his way. If nothing else, we will know the main trends.
Give McCain LA, NE, and WY. Give Obama CO, MN, NY, RI, and WI. The battlegrounds here in the west are AZ and NM. McCain should have his home state of AZ without question, but it looks damn close now, though I still think he will pull it out. Obama looks to be a lock to take NM, though recent polls have it fluctuating a bit. Barring an amazing McCain swing on election day, NM will be a blue state.
–Senate: A lot of unique Senate seats at stake here. Both NM and CO will switch the Rs to the Ds, with two guys both named Udall (no relation) likely to pull out wins. Sen. Landrieu (D) will keep her LA seat, though a short time ago it looked liked she might be in trouble. The real thing to watch here is in MN, perhaps the most interesting Senate race in the country. Comedian Al Franken (D) is locked in a nailbiter with Republican incumbent Norm Coleman. There is a third party candidate in the race, Dean Barkley, an old pal of former MN governor Jesse Ventura. Without Barkley, Franken would take this, but Barkley has been pulling almost 15% of the vote, most of that from voters who would typically vote for the Democrat. This race is really too close to call. It’s another one that the Ds must take if they hope to secure the filibuster proof majority.
–Other: Arizona’s Prop 102 would seek to amend its constitution to ban gay marriage, like in FL. Interstingly, in 2006 AZ became the first state to reject its ban, but the proponents have brought it up again this year. It looks very close, with the support for the ban ahead by a bit.
*9pm: Things really begin winding down polling wise: Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Nevada, Utah.
–Presidential Race: If we don’t already have a new president by this point, we will very soon. Look to the OH and PA results here; they will likely be finished.
McCain will grab ID and UT. Obama will take IA. MT should be an easy McCain grab, its been tightening, but look for him to get his hold onto it. NV will be the tightest, but Obama seems to have it locked down by a few points now.
–Senate: No races worth noting in this bunch.
*10pm: The states on the Pacific will be bringing this election to a close: California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington.
–Presidential Race: Obama will take all of these states. The coastal west never use to be the land of Democratic sweeps, but McCain never gained traction here.
–Senate: Note the Oregan Senate race between incumbent Smith (R) and the frontrunning challenger Merkley (D). Gordon Smith has tried everything to keep his seat here, including trying to play up his friendship with Obama, but it likely won’t be enough. He’ll probably fall to the challenger. It’ll be a shame, because Smith is a common-sense moderate conservative.
–Other: Obviously, pay attention to Proposition 8: the referendum on the CA ballot that would declare that the Equal Protection Clause of the state constitution applies to everyone except gay and lesbian couples. Keep your fingers crossed. It is still too close to call. Unlike in AZ and FL where gay marriage is already illegal, if Prop 8 passes, couples who were legally married with have their rights revoked.
*11pm: Alaska officially ends it all. They’ll vote for their home-girl, oh and McCain too.
-Senate: The incumbent Republican Sen. Stevens was just convicted on several corruption charges, not good. It may have been close otherwise, but he will be beaten pretty handily in this.
*12pm: We will definitely have elected a new President by this point. The things to pay attention to now are the Prop 8 results in CA, the IL specific races that are slow to report, and the key Senate races that are extra close if still too close to call, espeically in MN.