US Election Night

Tonight, you should hardly need telling, is US election night, so here’s a thread for overnight discussion and some things to look out for tonight.

First up a note about exit polls. Exit polls this year are only being conducted in 31 states rather than 50, they aren’t bothering with some of the safe states, including some of those states closing first (so no exit polls in Kentucky, Georgia, South Carolina and West Virginia – all safe Republican states). Exit polls are done in the same way as in the UK – people stand outside polling stations and get a proportion of people leaving after having voted to fill in surveys, although unlike in the UK they ask a full survey about their opinions and why they voted as they did, not just how they voted. Exit polls are supplemented with phone polls to take account of early voters.

Exit polls are not released until the polls in that state are closed, people will inevitably claim to have leaked exit poll data prior to that. Any claimed leaks before 10pm will be bollocks anyway – the polling data will still be under strict quarantine in a locked room. Any claimed leaks after that will probably be bollocks too, and should be ignored anyway as it won’t be probably weighted yet. Also bear in mind that in recent elections the initially released exit poll data has tended to be a bit skewed to the Democrats, becoming more accurate as actual votes come in. That may or may not be the case this time.

The initial exit polls are updated as actual votes are counted, and weighted based on the declared votes in the districts where the exit poll took place. Once the networks are certain that a party has won the seat they call it – obviously the closer a state is, the longer it takes for the networks to be certain who has won. Hence while we have a list of the time that states’ polls close and exit polls will be released, its it only the very safe states that will be called straight away. In 2008 states where the vote was relatively close (say, under 10 points) sometimes took a couple of hours after polls closed for the networks to call the race, states with the tightest races took much longer to call: Montana and Florida four hours, North Caroline a day, Missouri a week.

In a tight race, don’t expect a result in the early hours!

Looking at the timetable.

11pm. Most polls close in Indiana and Kentucky – some parts of both states are an hour behind, so the networks may not call them until the whole state has finished voting, but either way both will vote Romney.

12 midnight. Polls close in Georgia, South Carolina, Vermont & Virginia. Most polls close in Florida. Georgia and South Carolina will vote Romney, Vermont will vote Obama. Virginia and Florida are the first toss-up states. For Romney to win, he really needs to win both of these – if Obama wins either of them then it becomes difficult (but not impossible) for Romney to win. The polls in Florida are neck-and-neck, if they have been accurate it is not going to be called for many hours. Most recent polls in Virginia have shown Obama ahead, but it will probably be a few hours until it is called.

12:30 am. North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia polls close. West Virginia will vote Romney. North Carolina and Ohio are another two key states. Recent polls have tended to show Romney ahead in North Carolina, again it is a state he really does need to win. Ohio is likely to be the key – if Romney wins Virginia, North Carolina and Florida he needs Ohio and another state (New Hampshire, Colorado, Iowa?) to win. If Obama holds Ohio he has won unless he loses something unexpected like Wisconsin or Pennsylvania. At 12:30 though this will be academic – if the race is at all close they aren’t going to be calling it yet.

1 am. A whole slew of states close: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Alabama, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, most of Texas and Michigan and the remaining part of Florida close. Apart from Florida the only really interesting states amongst them all are New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania should be solidly Democrat, Obama won it by 10 points last time, John Kerry won it, all but one of the recent polls have shown Obama ahead, often by good margins. It should be Obama. However, both campaigns have been targeting it so it must be seen as somewhat close. In the event that Romney does win it he would probably win unless Obama had won Virginia, North Carolina or Florida instead (though frankly, the idea of the Democrats winning one of those states and not Pennsylvania is somewhat bonkers)

1:30 am. Arkansas polls close.

2:00 am. New York, Kansas, Louisana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wyoming polls close, the remainder of Texas and Michigan close. Again, these are mostly safe states – the two interesting ones are Wisconsin (which the polls suggest should go for Obama without too much difficulty) and Colorado, where the polls are closer, but are consistently showing Obama ahead. More interesting is that by now we’ve had a couple of hours for votes to be counted in the early-closing states, so with a bit of luck we should start to see competitive states being called. The broad picture of the night, whether Obama is probably home and dry, whether it is going to be close or whether there could be a Romney win will hopefully start to emerge around now.

3:00 am. Polls close in Iowa, Montana, Utah, Nevada and most of North Dakota. Iowa and Nevada are the last of the swing states. Nevada looks like it should go to Obama, Iowa’s polls have Obama ahead, but less convincingly.

4:00 am. California, Washington, Hawaii. Most of Idaho, Oregon. All safe states for one side or the other. The closer run states should be being called around now. Unless things have gone right down to the wire we should soon know who has won. If they have gone right down to a couple of states where the candidates are neck-and-neck it could take days. Go to bed.

5:00 am. Alaska. Go! Go to bed. Sheesh.

483 Responses to “US Election Night”

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  1. I’d never vote electronically, too open to fraud. Pen and Paper is the best (not perfect) way. As at least that’s something tangible that can be counted, numbers on a machine can be changed with no trace.

  2. ^ totally agree. the digital age is great, but it doesnt work for me with elections.

    having said all that, I cant see there being significant fraud. Wouldn’t the US authorities come down like a tonne of bricks on anything like that. It would certainly be a prison job.

  3. OLD Nat & MIM

    That’s a false equivalence for the following reasons.

    1. MSNBC acknowledge their biases.

    2. MSNBC aren’t entirely liberal, for example they have that dolt Joe Scarborough on in the mornings.

    3. Unlike Faux Noise, MSNBC aren’t pushing the personal ideological agenda of their owners. They lean liberal simply because they saw a gap in the market for the liberal audience.

    4. MNSBC differentiate much more clearly between news and reporting.

  4. Rich o

    ” having said all that, I cant see there being significant fraud. Wouldn’t the US authorities come down like a tonne of bricks on anything like that. It would certainly be a prison job.”

    There was massive fraud on wall st and still is, just look at how many fines the banks have agreed to pay in Exchange for not going to trial, but only two guys have gone to jail, One was maddoff. It’s the same here, no one has or will be jailed for the PPI “mis selling” even though its so large that there is no way it was accidental

  5. Nadine v. Crocs.

    Cruelty to crocs surely?

    either way, as I keep saying…. drip, drip, d r i……p

  6. Paul are you saying that Nadine would win? Sounds like you think she’s quite tough. Careful you’re becoming a Tory. :P


    CNN did an analysis of both Fox and MSNBC coverage of the Presidential election.

    In terms of running negative stories about the “other” candidate (as opposed to neutral or positive ones) MSNBC were considerably worse than Fox.

    Saying that MSNBC is just in it for the money doesn’t make them any more attractive viewing prospect than Fox!

  8. Some good news regarding Buckeye comrades.

    That represents a 5 point swing from four years ago.

    Nate Silver had an piece up on his site saying the reason Obama’s vote was holding up in Ohio was because he was doing well among blue collar whites thanks to the auto bailout. The auto bailout really ought to have completely discredit laissez-faire dogma for good, and who knows, it could be the start of a long-term realignment in the Rust Belt.

  9. MinM

    Crocodiles are very vulnerable to severe nagging.

  10. Good Evening All.

    Quite an exciting evening now, just in as I am from school, and then meeting an old school friend from 40 years ago.

    Obama to win I think.

    Quite moving when I think of 1968, when I were a lad in London watching the tv screens.

  11. My view of the USA political scene?

    Two parties; one is right wing, one is very right wing with a nutty fundamentalist Christian fringe. No centrist party let alone a left wing in world terms.

    If the very right wing party gets in we will have many more wars in the world, illegal on international law terms. Watch Israel (home of nuclear bombs in the middle east) go crazy and kill many more people trying to live in their legal borders.

    Sorry but Republicans really worry me. It’s not just me- check Western World bookshops at the end of the Bush ‘Kill them all era’ and you will find NOTHING in such bookshops supporting Republicanism,

    The world needs sanity; Republicans do not give the world that.

  12. Also, hearing that her constituents “rely on her”. Will the entirety of Mid Bedfordshire, erupt in violence and looting and general chaos just because their MP is away for a few weeks?

    Is Nadine Dorries sherrif of Mid Bedfordshire as well as an MP? Will it become a lawless place without their MP to keep law and order? Or will everything just carry on ticking along and no one really notice their MP’s absence from the country in their day to day lives?

  13. ‘The auto bailout really ought to have completely discredit laissez-faire dogma for good, and who knows, it could be the start of a long-term realignment in the Rust Belt’.

    Perhaps the bailout was needed in that instance, but I think you are missing the point that long term, a strong free market economy is better than one requiring constant intervention and bailouts. I think this was one if the few areas I agreed with Romney on. If the fundamentals are not right, then the fundamentals are not right, so to speak.

    Its the main reason I don’t like Keynesian economics, which in a large part did more damage to the struggling European economies.

  14. Rich O

    I’d argue that the other way. I don’t agree with bailouts and intervention all the time, but I do think on the auto bailout Obama got it spot on. Both for the states and their economies, as they now have kept their manufacturing jobs (unlike the north of england which lost much of its manufacturing due to lack of funds) and also politically as the bailout has likely kept Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan in the Obama column.

  15. The car workers all had the day off to vote – that has to have helped Obama.

  16. @MIM

    Well perhaps a few people will get evicted from their homes as a result, a few people will not get advice that might have helped them resolve problems that are blighting their lives, companies and local government will take decisions that they might not have done had the MP written asking for a review… not much on a national level. But maybe a bit for her constituents.

  17. Nah I really think Romney will win. He will flip North Carolina, Indiana, Florida, Virginia, Ohio, New Hampshire and Colorado getting to 279.

    Obama will hold the rest of his 2008 states giving him 259. We will know the winner about 0230 unless there are any recounts. I don’t see how Romney can hold a double figure lead with independents but still be behind in the polls. Another reason why I think he will win is Obama is ahead in absentee and early voting but his lead is a lot lower than in 2008 and the difference is higher than his margin of victory last time.

    Anyway that is the way I see things and there are people a lot more clued up on this stuff than me who do this for a living who will tell me I’m talking rubbish but I just have a sneaky feeling and I think the predictors are missing a few things.

    £200 on Romney at 7/2 for me. I posted something similar to this on another thread earlier so apologies to people experiencing some deja vu ;)

  18. @maninthemiddle,

    yes, the key thing is the value on the social and other related cost, and in that respect Obama probably got it right.

    Its strange really, I generally am a fan of Thatcher, as the Country needed that approach at the time after the mess of the 70s.
    Anyway, I think one area I have changed my view, is that whilst I am a strong free market exponent, I do think Thatcher set the seeds for a very ‘me’ society, and you can see this everywhere now. Ironically on both sides of the political spectrum. (i.e. trade union leaders on 6 figure packages etc). If Thatcher had used some of the North Sea oil for some further redistribution of wealth and underpinning and modernisation of northern manufacturing, then I think that would have been perfect. As it is, I can now see that there was too big a social cost in certain areas, and ironically it has still damaged the Tory brand to this day in many northern areas including Scotland.
    Apologies, am getting off topic, this is a US polling thread, and I do hope Obama wins.

  19. Reports in the Denver Post that although pundits have been expecting the overall early vote count to lean Democrat, the Republicans have the early-voting edge over Democrats in Colorado.

    Can Romney do the unlikely and win? I still think it’s unlikely…but this makes me doubt it a bit more.

  20. ^ 4.2 on betfair, Obama 1.31.

    Those odds seem too long on Romney…

  21. @Ambivalentsupporter

    Interesting, but a bit more information reveals that this is partly because there are more registered Republicans than Democrats in Colorado.

    The early voting figures are:

    Rep 696,820/837,732 = 83.3%
    Dem 663,282/739,778 = 89.7%

    They’ve turned a 98,000 voter defecit into a 35,300 deficit.

    Of course we don’t know how any of these people actually voted.

  22. I’m bored witless with the whole business, and couldn’t care less who wins. It will make no difference to the UK anyway which clown is voted in.

    I can’t imagine why so much attention is paid to this show. What makes it worse is that it takes so bloody long! American presidents seem to spend at least half their time in office electioneering, and their party conferences resemble TV extravaganzas with insane bursts of cheering for every inane soundbite uttered in them.

    I think we could do with a lot less ‘american election’ coverage, and perhaps a little more about Europe which is only very sketchily addressed by the UK media. Like it or not, we are PART of Europe, and what goes on there affects us a lot more than what goes on in the land of the free.

  23. So it doesn’t look like Gary Johnson will win by a last minute surge. Oh well: four more wars… Sorry, years, then.

  24. Don’t care who wins, they are both a pair of clodhoppers.
    Anyone staying up watching the farce must be mad

  25. Martin got to disagree with you there. The President of America effects the entire world. American policy has big impacts on the UK, if Bush’s policies were different the UK may not have been dragged into those wars. The US economy has a knock on effect to our economy, just look at the current crisis, originated in America! Different policies could have prevented it.

    Also agree with Rich O about thatcher, I really hate the “me me me” society we live in and blame her for it. I wish everyone cared less about themselves and more about others.

  26. @ Croftee

    i bet 25 quid on romney at 4/1 yesterday . i want obama to win but if he loses at least i get 100 pounds profit.
    That’s what I do – I bet against the person/ team I want to win so at least I get a consolation prize if my favourite loses. :-)

  27. I agree with Martin

    I do not however think the candidates are stupid, as WTNL thinks, just less well educated than we are.

    Do they do Geography and History in the USA schools? I can understand History being a five minute affair but……

    Perhaps they will all at least do Spanish in future though.

  28. I am totally impressed with Facebook and it is not often I say that.

    It is a map in real time of facebook users voting. When they vote the click a “I voted” button and the total updates.

    So far 5.5 million

    It gives a breakdown by age and sex. It will also tell them their polling place.

  29. @ Old Nat

    In terms of running negative stories about the “other” candidate (as opposed to neutral or positive ones) MSNBC were considerably worse than Fox.
    Perhaps Romney gave MSNBC more to work with!

  30. Martin

    I wrote a few week ago American politics is boring but to be honest I totaly dislike the Republicans and the fact that I want Obama to win 110% I’m a little excited.

    But you do have a point regarding all the razzmatazz and electioneering. By the time the president officially takes office and the next election campaign he is really in office for just about 3 and a half years.

    I prefer to watch elections in North Korea, far less predictable. ;)

  31. I am not personally sure that you can blame Thatcher for the ‘me me me’ culture, even though I don’t like her at all. I mean, if it were solely/mainly Thatcher’s fault then the ‘me me me’ culture would be merely a British thing. But the ‘me me me’ culture became widespread in the 70s and 80s throughout much of the western world. Can Thatcher be blamed for the shift to the ‘me me me’ culture in the rest of Europe, America, western world during the 70s/80s?

    I think a lot of it was due to deeper, fundamental changes in the world economy, as well as significant cultural shifts in western youth culture.

  32. Just on the point about Denver, the rallys that Romney had there drew huge crowds. I agree this could a bit of shock. Most of the polls however have Obama to win that state by 1-2%. Betfair has Obama pretty strong favourite. Interesting.

  33. COUPER

    That’s a craker of a link!! :)

  34. AS

    Don’t start on ‘like and dislike’ or PC will have to put us right again.

    Blame the voters for me, me, me, you get the government you deserve.


    You make a valid point… where would the world now be without Reaganomics? Would we still be talking about the Carter-Thatcher/Mondale-Thatcher years?

  36. Martin I also agree,what a bore it is.

  37. Billy Bob

    An Antipodean friend of mine used to go on about ‘Rogernomics’. I didn’t have a clue what she was referring to, but she used to get very upset about it.

    I think he was a NZ prime minister who aped Reagan?

  38. Mitt Romney’s father George W. Romney…

    “After becoming an elder, Romney earned enough money working to fund himself as a Mormon missionary. In October 1926, he sailed to Great Britain and was first assigned to preach in a Glasgow, Scotland, slum. The abject poverty and hopelessness he saw there affected him greatly, but he was ineffective in gaining converts and temporarily suffered a crisis of faith”

    In February 1927, he was shifted to Edinburgh and in February 1928 to London

    I think the Lib/Dems suffered a crisis of faith in Glasgow after winning 3% of the vote. ;)

  39. Was there a YG this morning -I missed it, it would seem.

  40. Allan

    Not only that, but when they take office in Janurary, the only have 1 year until the mid terms start.

    So if Obama wins in 2012 and gets inaugurated again in Jan 2013, well by Jan 2014 they will be gearing up for mid terms again.

    Also anything they do in the odd numbered years, is always done with the calculation in mind of how that will effect them next year in whatever election.

    Even worse if you’re a Representative, having elections every other year. You’re sworn in then literally, you’re getting ready to run again for election next year.

  41. He was probably thinking of Roger Gnome who invented stuff and became famous for a while.

  42. AC

    They got that many?


    Exactly it’s non stop campaigning and very little time in a actual settled office. Even after nearly 4 years I still think of Obama as a relatively new president.

  44. HOWARD

    Well it was actually 2¾ so I just rounded it up. ;)

  45. On MSNBC just then they were praising the role unions have played in getting out the vote in Obama’s Ohio campaign. I found it heartening to listen to that even today unions can still have some influence in the US.

    Not only that, but Obama and other senior Democrats aren’t shy about praising organised labour and associating with them. It makes me feel even sadder that many in the Labour party in recent years have treated unions like the mad old aunt up in the attic.

  46. The media is talking about possible record turnout in mass, I hope this bodes well for warren

  47. @Amber,

    But the culture went far beyond the UK and America; it’s a western thing. And some analysts say the ‘me me me’ culture really started in the 60s.

    I wouldn’t know as I wasn’t around then!

  48. @” the mad old aunt up in the attic.”

    The mad old aunt who throws shed loads of money down from the attic………………….and then……… day ……..climbs down from the attic with an axe in her hand …….croaking ” now , about my money”….

  49. @RiN – there seem to be various reports about high turnout in strong Obama areas. Democrats seem to be getting more confident about the ground war, but there still seems to be a general nervousness all round.

  50. Amber
    So the millions who voted for all that had nothing to do with it? I always thought it was Sir Keith Joseph anyway, who was the ideas man.

    As an ex-pat who returned for a brief visit in the mid eighties, I thought I had entered a madhouse. People were queuing at cash machines. I pointed out that the inside of the bank was empty to one person and he told me that the reason nobody went inside the bank was that they had to use their credit cards to get cash as there would be nothing in their accounts.

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