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Centeredpolitics.com: Hour-by-Hour Guide to Election Night 2012 Part 4 - 9:00 to the Bitter End

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James Hazzard co-authored this guide

9:00 PM Polls close in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

President: The top of the 9:00 hour is likely to bring more quick calls with Romney claiming Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas, Wyoming and perhaps after more counting of votes Arizona. Obama may have to wait a bit longer as well for results in New Mexico and unless Romney's late efforts make the state competitive, Minnesota. The 9:00 hour adds several more true swing states with Wisconsin and Colorado joining the list, but most attention will be on Florida, Virginia, New Hampshire and Ohio - or at least Pennsylvania and North Carolina, that could be moving toward a resolution during this hour.

D -- R (Polling leader underlined in bold)

__ __ Kansas(6 electoral votes)

__ __ Louisiana(8 electoral votes)

__ __ Nebraska (5 electoral votes)

__ __ South Dakota(3 electoral votes)

__ __ Texas(38 electoral votes)

__ __ Wyoming(3 electoral votes)

__ __ Arizona(11electoral votes)

__ __New Mexico(5 electoral votes)

__ __ Minnesota(10 electoral votes)

__ __Wisconsin(10 electoral votes)

__ __Colorado(9 electoral votes)

It is possible some real presidential race news could be made in this hour if any of the battleground states: North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania or New Hampshire start moving toward a call -- especially if one of them goes in an unexpected direction. Florida moving toward Obama's column could be a boulder in Romney's path to 270 electoral votes, and North Carolina or Virginia would be almost as bad. Pennsylvania moving toward Romney could open more pathways for the challenger, and anything that suggests an Ohio decision is near would automatically be news (more likely this is still hours away). If things go as expected, the count before 10:00 pm in the East is likely to be something like: Obama 124 -- Romney 176 with 129 electoral votes still in states being counted.

Senate:

D -- R (Party controlling the seat underlined in bold)

__ __ Wisconsin: Republicans saw an opportunity at Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl's (D-WI) retirement, especially after Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan was chosen to be the Republican Vice Presidential Nominee. But Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) has been able to keep this race tight against former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R-WI). Baldwin would be the first openly gay Senator to serve, if she wins.

__ __ Nebraska: The clearest chance of a win for Republicans comes in Nebraska, where tea party favorite State Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) is well ahead in the polls after a surprising primary win. Former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D) was the Democrats first choice for this nomination, but it seems like little can be done to replace retiring Sen. Ben Nelson (D) with another Democrat.

__ __ Arizona: Down in Arizona, former Surgeon General Richard Carmona (D) may spoil the night for Republicans as he attempts to take retiring Senator Jon Kyl's (R) seat from Representative Jeff Flake (R). Money has been pouring into this race on both sides, and it will probably come down to the finish line.

House: Republicans are defending 8 seats in close races closing in this hour.

D -- R (Party controlling the seat underlined in bold)

__ __ AZ-01 : Former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D) hopes to regain her bluer district against lobbyist Jonathan Patton (R).

__ __ CO-06 : Redistricting puts Rep. Mike Coffman (R) in danger against state Rep. Joe Miklosi as both parties pour money into the race.

__ __ MN-06 : Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R) is a national figure and Tea Party Caucus founder that went deep into the Republican Presidential Primary, so it is something of a surprise that she is having trouble fending off AmericInn hotel chain founder Jim Graves (D), but it looks like she may pull it out in the end.

__ __ MN-08 : After ousting former Rep. Jim Oberstar (D) in 2010, Rep. Chip Cravaack (R) is a prime target for Democrats - especially since they were able to recruit former Rep. Rick Nolan (D) to lead the charge.

__ __ NY-11 : Freshman Rep. Michael Grimm (R) finds himself in hot water for potentially accepting illegal cash bribes, giving Mark Murphy (D) an opening in this otherwise conservative district.

__ __ NY-18 : Another freshman, Rep. Nan Hayworth (R), must battle former Clinton Aide Sean Patrick Maloney (D) in an expensive race for the New York suburb seat.

__ __ NY-19 : Former Al-Qaida prosecutor Julian Schreibman (D) tries to paint freshman Rep. Chris Gibson (R) as a conservative die-hard, despite Gibson's votes against the Ryan budget.

__ __ NY-27 : Rep. Kathy Hochul (D) has earned accolades among Democratic circles for her pioneering attacks against the Ryan budget in a 2011 special election, but may struggle to stay in office against moderate Chris Collins (R).

__ __ WI-07 : Freshman Rep. Sean Duffy (R), who associates himself with the Tea Party, is challenged by former news anchor and state Sen. Pat Kreitlow (D).

10:00 PM: Polls close inMontana, Idaho, Iowa, North Dakota, Nevada and Utah at 10:00 PM. Only swing state Iowa and possibly Obama leaning Nevada seem likely to be called more than a nanosecond after the hour, as the four Mountain states are seen as almost certain to go to Romney. This may take Romney close to 200 electoral votes or more if Florida or Virginia have been decided in his favor.

D -- R (Polling leader underlined in bold)

__ __ Idaho(4 electoral votes)

__ __ Montana(3 electoral votes)

__ __ North Dakota(3 electoral votes)

__ __ Utah(6 electoral votes)

__ __Nevada(6 electoral votes)

__ __Iowa(6 electoral votes)

By the end of this hour polls have been closed in Virginia and Florida for nearly 4 hours, 3.5 hours in Ohio, and 3 hours in Pennsylvania, so it is not unrealistic for expectations to build for some decisive results. Obama will likely still trail Romney in the electoral vote count by as much as 40 to 60 votes (depending on whether Pennsylvania, Virginia, or Florida, or Ohio have been decided), but with California, Oregon and Washington expected to bring him 74 electoral votes at 11:00 pm on the east coast, a victory in any two of these states could prove decisive at this stage.

Senate:

D -- R (Party controlling the seat underlined in bold)

__ __ North Dakota: With the retirement of Sen. Kent Conrad (D), Republicans have seen North Dakota as one of the likeliest seats to swing red this cycle. However, as with many close races this year, the Democratic nominee - former North Dakota Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D) - has made this campaign a straight toss-up with Freshman Rep. Rick Berg (R).

__ __ Montana: Sen. John Tester (D) has distanced himself from the national party to try to hold on to his seat in this red state against a challenge from Montana's only house member, Rep. Denny Rehberg (R). This is a tight race, and the effects of Tester's strategy will be decided at the polls.

__ __ Nevada: Sen. Dean Heller (R) was appointed to his seat after the abrupt retirement of scandal-ridden Sen. John Ensign (R), so this is his first statewide election since 2002, when he was reelected as Secretary of State. Heller and his opponent, Rep. Shelley Berkely, have made this one of the most expensive races in the country - including over $26 million in outside spending.

House:

D -- R (Party controlling the seat underlined in bold)

__ __ IA-04: In one of the most watched races of the year, Tea Party hero Rep. Steve King (R) faces off against Christie Vilsack (D), wife to former governor and now U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

__ __ NV-03: State Assembly Speaker John Oceguerra (D) is challenging freshman Rep. Joe Heck (R) in this highly competitive district. Heck, in a slightly more favorable district, won by only 2,000 votes in 2010.

__ __ UT-04: One of the Republican's star recruits, Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love (R), appears to be running ahead of Rep. Jim Matheson (D) in this deeply conservative district. Love would be the first Republican African American woman to serve in Congress.

11:00 PM: Polls close in California, Oregon, Washingtonand Hawaii. The last state still voting will be Alaska where most polls close by midnight eastern time. There are no swing states in the Pacific time zone (or westward) so the results may come quickly, and if the key swing states have moved decisively earlier in the night a call of the national presidential race is possible soon after the turn of the hour. Far more likely a decision will have to await votes still being tallied in Ohio, Virginia, Iowa, Colorado or other swing states far to the east.

President

D -- R (Polling leader underlined in bold)

__ __California(55 electoral votes)

__ __Oregon(7 electoral votes)

__ __Washington(12 electoral votes)

__ __ Hawaii (4 electoral votes)

__ __ Alaska (3 electoral votes) Most polls close at 12:00 Eastern.

President: Even if he is headed toward victory it is quite likely that the 11:00 hour brings Obama his first lead of the night in the electoral vote count, as California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii come in fairly quickly with a total of 77 electoral votes for the Democrat. If Pennsylvania has fallen in line for Obama, and Florida has moved to Romney, the race will be close but Obama may be 10 electoral votes ahead with Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, Colorado, and Iowa holding the balance of the election as we knew they would all along.

House:

D -- R (Party controlling the seat underlined in bold)

__ __ CA-07: Rep. Dan Lungren (R) is in a rematch from 2010 against Dr. Ami Bera (D), except Bera benefits from a district redrawn in his favor. Lots of outside groups have stepped in on both sides of this hotly contested seat.

__ __ CA-10: Freshman Rep. Jeff Denham (R) probably wasn't expecting to see his safe Republican district turn into a competitive race, but he is holding his own against Astronaut Jose Hernandez (D). Like California's 7th district, this race has attracted a large amount of outside attention.

__ __ CA-24: Both Rep. Lois Capps (D) and former Lt. Gov Abel Maldonado (R) have faced accusations that they aren't paying their taxes in this fiercely contested race.

__ __ CA-26: "Young Gun"State Sen. Tony Strickland (R) and Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D) have both nearly raised $2 million trying to win this open redistricted Santa Monica seat.

__ __ CA-36: Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R), a favorite target of Democrats, is again in a close fight for her seat - this time against Dr. Raul Ruiz (D).

__ __ CA-52: Rep. Brian Bilbray (R), like several other Republicans on this list, saw his safe seat swing competitive thanks to redistricting this year. His competitor, San Diego Port commissioner Scott Peters, has made $2 million in loans to himself in order to win this seat.

It's late. The food on the election party table is stale and fortune smiles upon you if there is still ice at the bar and something to pour over it. The television is now flipping through the small number of contests that have not yet been decided. We can all hope the election will allow voters a voice in matters of consequence and that 2012 outcomes will not end up in the hands of lawyers and judges.