James Hazzard co-authored this guide.
8:00 p.m.: Polls close in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware , District of Columbia, , Illinois Maine , Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi<, Missouri,New Hampshire,New Jersey, Oklahoma,Pennsylvania, Rhode Island,Tennessee, and Texas. Some Michigan polls will close at 9:00 PM, but the state may be projectable between 8:00 and 9:00 PM.
President: And the game is on! The top of the 8:00 hour is likely to bring a flurry of quick calls as Obama takes his home state of Illinois, Romney's home state of Massachusetts, (Romney's other home state of Michigan many come in more slowly) as well as Connecticut, Delaware, Maine,Maryland, Rhode Island, New Jersey and the District ofColumbia. Romney will counter with wins in Texas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Alabamaand MississippiPennsylvania, Missouri and New Hampshire could take far longer to count.
D--R (Polling leader underlined in bold)
____District of Columbia (3 electoral votes)
____ Connecticut(7 electoral votes)
__ __ Delaware (3 electoral votes)
__ __ Illinois (20 electoral votes)
__ __ Maryland (10 electoral votes)
__ __ Massachusetts (11 electoral votes)
__ __ Maine (4 electoral votes)
__ __ Michigan (16 electoral votes)
__ __ Rhode Island (4 electoral votes)
__ __ New Jersey (14 electoral votes)
__ __ Alabama (9 electoral votes)
__ __ Tennessee (11 electoral votes)
__ __ Texas (38 electoral votes)
__ __ Mississippi (6 electoral votes)
__ __ Oklahoma (7 electoral votes)
__ __ Missouri (10 electoral votes)
__ __ Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes)
__ __ New Hampshire (4 electoral votes)
Assuming there is still no call in Virginia, Florida, or Ohio at this point in the evening (North Carolina could be moving toward a decision for Romney later in the hour), and if Pennsylvania and New Hampshire join these states in the too-close-to-call column for much of the evening, the count may grow to something like: Obama 93 -- Romney 130 with 84 unallocated electoral votes. Up to 9:00 it is probably still early for there to be real news in the presidential race unless one of these states is looking like it is moving in an unexpected direction - such as Florida or North Carolina tilting toward Obama or Romney taking an early Ohio lead or running particularly strong inMichigan or Pennsylvania.
Senate: Key races in New England may determine whether this is a good night for Democrats or Republicans.
R (Party controlling the seat underlined in bold.)
__ __ Massachusetts: For this to be a good night for Senate Republicans, Sen. Scott Brown (R) (who won his seat in 2010 in a special election to replace Sen. Ted Kennedy) will have hold on against hard charging Elizabeth Warren (D) who is running as a liberal champion. Warren had been widely expected to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau until Republican opposition stopped the appointment.
__ __ Connecticut: Retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman's (I) seat has turned into a surprisingly competitive race, with former CEO and co-creator of World Wrestling Entertainment, Linda McMahon (R), making her second run at a Connecticut Senate seat in as many elections. Rep. Chris Murphy (D) maintained a slim lead heading into the final push.
__ __ __ Maine: Former Gov. Angus King (I) has been leading a three way race to take the seat of retiring Senator Olympia Snowe (R). If this happens, and if (as many expect) he decides to caucus with the Democrats, this would be a Democratic pick up.
__ __ Missouri: The once thought highly vulnerable Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) is now in the lead, thanks to the missteps of her opponent Rep. Todd Akin (R), including his inflammatory statements about rape that garnered national attention and caused the Republican Senate Campaign Committee to claim to have abandoned the race.
D -- R (Party controlling the seat underlined in bold)
__ __ IL-08 : There are 5 competitive seats in Illinois. Four of them, including the Rep. Joe Walsh (R), are Republican incumbents. Walsh, a Tea-Party hero, was redistricted into a majority Democratic district and looks unlikely to beat Iraq Veteran Tammy Duckworth (D).
__ __ IL-10 : Freshman Rep. Bob Dold (R) is in one of the most Democratic districts in the country, but his prolific fundraising and help from the NRCC has kept him in the race against Brad Schneider (D).
__ __ IL-11 : Former Rep. Bill Foster (D) tries to get back in the Congress against Rep. Judy Biggert (R), who faces an uphill battle thanks to redistricting.
__ __ IL-12 : Illiniois National Guard Commander Bill Enyart (D) replaced Brad Harriman (D) who dropped out of this race after winning the primary. Enyart is running against Jason Plummer (R), who ran for Lieutenant Governor in 2010.
__ __ IL-17 : Freshman Bobby Schilling (R) must counter a bluer district and a number of outside spenders to hold off Alderwoman Cheri Bustos (D).
__ __ MA-06 : Surrounded by controversy due to his wife's imprisonment for setting up an illegal gambling ring, Rep. John Tierney (D) is playing defense against Richard Tisei (R), the 2010 Lieutenant Governor nominee in what is now a slightly more conservative district.
__ __ MD-06 : Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R) looks to be redistricted out in favor of John Delaney (D).
__ __ MI-01 : Both the NRCC and DCCC have a strong interest in the 2010 rematch between Rep. Dan Benishek (R) and Gary McDowell (D).
__ __ MI-11 : In one of the weirder races of the year, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R) (who ran for President over the winter) was disqualified from the election for having fraudulent signatures on his nomination petition. Reindeer farmer and public school teacher Kerry Bentivolio (R) must now battle it out again Syed Taj (D).
__ __ NH-01 : A rematch in New Hampshire pits Freshman Rep. Frank Guinta (R) against former Rep. Carol Shea Porter (D). Guinta won decisively in 2010 when New Hampshire swung to the Republicans, but this time the race is close.
__ __ NH-02 : Rep. Charlie Bass (R) and Ann McLane Kuster (D) fought a closely watched battle 2 years ago for this seat, and this year looks to be just as tight.
__ __ PA-08 : Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R) is running against attorney Kathy Boockvar (D) in this moderate district. Fitzpatrick defeated incumbent Patrick Murphy (D) by 7 points in 2010, but is only slightly favored this time.
__ __ PA-12 : After a bruising primary with fellow incumbent Rep. Jason Altmire (D), Rep. Mark Critz (D) has had to swing to the right in his run against NRCC "Young Gun" Keith Rothfus (R).
__ __ RI-01 : The Rhode Island 1st is one of the bluest districts in the country, but the financial mess that former Providence Mayor Rep. David Cicilline (D) left his city in may cause even the bluest voters to favor Brendan Doherty (R).
__ __ TX-23 : In what could be a huge year for the Hispanic vote, Rep. Francisco "Quico" Canseco (R) faces off against state Rep. Pete Gallego (D) in a race full of national implications.
8:30 PM Polls close in Arkansas.
D -- R (Expected leader underlined in bold)
__ __ Arkansas (6 electoral votes)
Sooner or later, Arkansas is expected to be called for Romney based more on historical patterns than 2012 polling. Most attention at this hour will be on the vote tallies in closer states, Virginia, Florida, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and of course, Ohio.
Hour-by-Hour Guide to Election Night 2012
Part 1 -- Introduction is here.
Part 2 -- 6:00 to 8:00 is here.
Part 3 -- 8:00 to 9:00 is here.
Part 4 -- 9:00 to the end is here.