Election Night 2016 — What to Look For (Part Five)

capitolThere are potential ways that the votes could come in tomorrow that would lead to one of the candidates reaching 270 before 11 p.m. (EST).  It is also theoretically possible that one party or the other could wrap up the Senate or the House by 11 p.m.   Both, however, are very unlikely in the absence of a clear landslide.  The last batch of states represent 10 likely electoral votes for the Republicans and 78 likely electoral votes for the Democrats.  (To make up for the 78, Clinton would essentially have to win all of the contested states.  To make up for the 10, Trump would need to win Michigan or Pennsylvania or Wisconsin in addition to the other contested states.)  The Republicans are defending twenty contested House seats in these states (and it is unlikely that all of the House seats from the earlier states will have been declared.)  The Republicans have three Senate seats in the last batch of states and the Democrats have two (not counting California in which the two candidates in the run-off are both Democrats).

11:00 p.m. (EST) — The polls in most of the remaining states close.  In particular, the remaining polls in Idaho, North Dakota, and Oregon close.  All of the polls in California, Hawaii, and Washington close.  Of the state-wide races, the only potentially close race is governor in Washington.  Most of these races should be called pretty quickly.

For the House, the Democrats have six current seats that could be close, but the Democrats should keep all or most of them — California 3, California 7, California 16, California 24, California 52, and Oregon 5.  The key Republican seats from these states are California 25 and California 49 (currently held by Representative Issa).  If the race for the House is close, the Republican-leaning seats that will determine the balance of power in this group of states are California 10, California 23, Washington 3, and Washington 8.  If there are any races in California, Oregon, and Washington that are close, the races may take days or weeks to resolve.  All three states have a very high percentage of mail-in votes and it takes time to receive, verify, and count all of these ballots.

Midnight (EST)/1 a.m. (EST) — The polls close in Alaska (most of the state at midnight, the western Aleutian Islands at 1 a.m.).   The only potentially interesting race may be for the House seat, but that is probably a little bit of a reach for the Democrats.

At this point of the evening, either everything has been decided or multiple states are too close to call.   If anything is still outstanding, it is time to closely examine the county-by-county returns to figure which precincts have yet to report.  Because of the number of precincts and the long lines in those precincts, urban cores tend to take several hours after the poll close to report their results and these urban cores tend to favor Democrats.  So if the Democrats have any lead in these states, it is more likely than not to hold up through the final precincts.  If the Republicans have a narrow lead, there is still a chance for the Democrats to take a narrow win.

At this point of the race, everybody knows the states and districts that matter for President (Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, Nebraska 2, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin) and Senate (Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin).  The best way to avoid a long night waiting for returns in “too close to call” states is to get a strong turnout of Democratic voters to guarantee comfortable margins in all of these states.

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