Stumper's Election Night Cheat-Sheet


If that's not enough detail for you, be sure to check out Nate Silver's exclusive NEWSWEEK timeline of "what to watch for" this evening. Here's a sneak peek:

6 PM EST. Polls close in portions of Indiana and Kentucky.

Traditionally, these are the first states to get called by the networks, spotting the Republicans a quick 19 points in the Electoral College. This year, however, is liable to be a little bit different. Indiana is far more competitive than usual, and is probably the state with the greatest disparity in ground games: the Obama campaign has 42 field offices open there, whereas McCain neglected the state entirely until recently.

The responsible thing to do would be for the networks to hold off until at least 7 PM to project Indiana, when polls have closed in Gary and the northwestern part of the state just across the border from Chicago—where Obama hopes to rack up huge margins among black and working-class voters. If for some reason the state is called before 7 PM for John McCain, that probably means we're in for a long night. If, on the other hand, the state is called for Obama in the first hour after the polls close, that could indicate that the force of Obama's field operation has been underestimated, and that McCain is in for a catastrophically poor evening. (Speaking of which, Indiana's equivalent on the Senate side of things might in fact be Kentucky, where Mitch McConnell remains the favorite but where he could be vulnerable in the event of an anti-incumbent wave.)

7 PM EST. Polls close in Virginia and Georgia, as well as most of Florida and most of New Hampshire.

Virginia, for my money, is the most important state in this election. If John McCain loses it, his path to victory is exceptionally narrow—he would need to pull out an upset in Pennsylvania, while holding on to Florida and Ohio, and avoiding a sweep out West. Barack Obama has considerably more ways to win without Virginia, but a failure to close out the state would suggest at best a more circuitous route to victory. As Obama remains about five points ahead in most polls of Virginia, what we're really looking for is a quick call on anything before 8 PM that would indicate that the map has indeed changed from 2004, and not in McCain's favor.

You can read the rest here.  

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