Most people who follow election day results know that poll closing times drive news coverage throughout the afternoon/evening. Below are how the closing times fall (all times are Eastern) along with some notes. Electoral votes are in parenthesis where indicated.
6:00 – Most of KY and IN – Indiana is a battleground state this year.
7:00 – Remaining precincts in KY and IN + VT, half of NH, VA, SC, GA, FL – This is the “first wave” of election results. Kentucky (8), South Carolina (8), and Georgia (15) are red states. Vermont (3) is blue. Eyes are on Indiana (11), New Hampshire (4), Virginia (13), and Florida (27). I’ve seen polls in these states that have the candidates virtually tied and polls that have Obama up by 3 to 5 points. I predict FL and NC for McCain; not sure on NH and VA.
7:30 – OH, WV, NC – Ohio is huge with 20 electoral votes. West Virginia (5) is red, but North Carolina (15) is in play. I predict McCain will win NC, but Ohio is anybody’s guess. Obama could win without Ohio, but I’m not sure McCain can.
8:00 – ME (4), the other half of NH, MA (12), CT (7), PA (21), NJ (15), DE (3), MD (10), D.C. (3), MI (17), TN (11), AL (9), MS (6), IL (21), MO (11), SD (3), KS (6), OK (7), TX (34) - The battleground states on this list are NH, PA, MI, and MO. Mchigan will go blue. I think Missouri will go red. I would have called PA for Obama up until a week ago, but now I’m not so sure. PA is second in importance behind Ohio, and no matter what McCain can’t lose both of them and win the way things are looking.
8:30 – AR (6) – Arkansas is red.
9:00 – RI (4), NY (31), LA (9), WI (10), MN (10), parts of ND (3) and SD (3), NE (5), WY (3), CO (9), NM (5), AZ (10) – The only real question marks here are Colorado and New Mexico. All the polls say Colorado will go to Obama and the margin seems to make that likely. The race in New Mexico is closer. Strangely enough, the way these things work, McCain really needs New Mexico’s five electoral votes. (And I noted that he spent some time there today so his campaign concurs.) I ran quite a few scenarios earlier including one in which McCain won NH, IN, OH, VA, NC, FL, MO, and lost PA, MI, CO, NV, and NM…which resulted in a tie: 269 electoral votes each. Moving NM’s 5 to Obama’s column resulted in a 274-264 Obama win.
10:00 – IA (7), MT (3), ID (4), UT (5), NV (5) - Iowa is blue. The rest are red except Nevada which is in play this year. Based on registration rolls, many people are calling Nevada for Obama, but the predicted Dem wins in the primaries (for the same reason) didn’t happen. So, we’ll see.
11:00 – WA (11), OR (7), CA (55) – “Yawn”: The most boring poll closing since all are blue.
12:00 – AK (3), HI (4) – Alaska is red; Hawaii blue.