All my friends are asking me, "When will we know the results of the election?" NOW we know.. It's 8 pm on the east coast and we now know that Obama has won because he just was declared the winner in Pennsylvania. The analysis below still pertains, but Pennsylvania went for Obama and it's OVER for McCain. Break out the champagne!.
For those of us in California, results will start coming in as early as 3 pm Pacific time, when polls close in Indiana and Kentucky. And if you think it's only we Left Coasters who are holding our breath, check out this analysis by the Times Online from the U.K. The world is holding its breath as well. TV sets from Kenya to Pakistan to Quito to Bangkok to London will be tuned into the 6 pm eastern time zone in the U.S.
Results will start rolling in shortly after the first polls close at 6pm EST, or 11pm GMT
By the time most Americans wake up, the first votes in the presidential election will have already been declared. In the tiny New Hampshire town of Dixville Notch, all two dozen of its residents will have cast their ballots simultaneously at midnight, with the results released one minute later. In keeping with electoral tradition both candidates will be present, though neither should be unduly worried by the outcome, as despite its uncanny accuracy in predicting party nominees, it has voted Republican in all but one presidential election in the last fifty years. For the real bellwethers, the world will have to wait just a little bit longer.
UPDATE: Dixville Notch votes 15 to 6 for Obama tonight! Which could indicate a real blowout for Obama...
The results that will flow in between 6 and 8 pm eastern (3 pm and 5 pm pacific) may tell us a lot more, although the fact that parts of some states close their polls at different times (most of Florida polls close at 7 pm eastern but the panhandle doesn't close until 8 pm) and parts of some states are in different time zones, may make it tricky to figure out what is going on.
By 8 pm eastern (5 pm pacific), however, polls will have closed in twenty-eight states. Obviously, if the exit polls show the results are close, the networks won't call those states right away. But if the polls show Pennsylvania and either Virginia, North Carolina or Florida (not to mention Ohio, Indiana or Missouri) in Obama's column, you can start popping the champagne if you are an Obama supporter.
I know that we can't be complacent. But neither should we be nervous wrecks. Take a look at the key polling sites like www.fivethirtyeight.com (which has Obama at 349.7 electoral votes) or Pollster.com (which has Obama at 264 electoral votes strong and 47 lean) or Electoral-vote.com (with the same results as Pollster). The polls in these states have been pretty consistent over the past several weeks, all bizillion of them. And they all show Obama with a decent lead. Real Clear Politics show the Obama lead to range from +3 to +10, depending on the poll. And whether or not these polling sites simply add up the polls and average them or do some fancy weighting system, the results are the same. Obama has a lead that can overcome the Bradley effect or snow, sleet or rain, or the pundits constant need to keep this thing alive by mentioning obscure polls that show McCain getting closer. The country is fixated on this race, and never have so many people done so much to elect their candidate.
As Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com says,
This is beginning to look like a five-state election. Those states are Virginia, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Nevada. Essentially all relevant electoral scenarios involve some combination of these five states.I should caution that by far the most likely scenario is that Obama wins some relatively decisive victory of anywhere from 3-12 points in the popular vote. If Obama wins the popular vote by anything in this range, he will find plenty of blue territory, accumulating somewhere between 300-400 electoral votes. The electoral math will matter very little.
If you believe that Obama's lead in the states described in the websites above will hold, then you can and should chill out -- not work less -- but chill out in the days that remain. Keep focused on electoral votes -- 270 to win -- popular vote is only relevant as an indicator of the overall electoral vote count. It's a state by state battle now. Absolutely do all you can. Absolutely do not let your guard down. But, as my friend Nicole says, start getting ready to bake your landslide cakes covered with blue frosting!
While the networks will not declare a winner until the west coast has voted, we should all know by 8 pm eastern, 5 pm pacific what the trend is for the Presidential race. And it is hard to imagine that hundreds of polls and millions of calls and door to door canvassing have not been successful in getting out the vote for Obama. Still, don't let the early returns keep you from voting in the West. There are too many important ballot initiatives and Senatorial races to stay away from the polls.
When my husband was in elementary school, he told his little school friends, "If Dewey don't beat (Truman), you can call me Pete." They did, for a whole year. And he became a Democrat. Now I say, "If Obama don't beat, you can call me Pete".