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. nate silver came in for disgusting abuse from conservatives. nates having the last laugh.

  2. I think once all the votes are in it will 51-49 in favour of Obama. Had Romney appealed more to Women and non white voters, he would have won by a decent margin. I think for Women voters it is showing currently 52-48 in favour of Obama. For non white voters, it is something like 70-30 in favour of Obama. If these figures are correct, for the Republicans to win in 2016 they have to pick a candidate that appeals to more people.

  3. The polls were right (as long as you ignore Rassmussen and Gallup).

  4. Chuck Todd again virtually called Virginia and Florida for Obama, so it looks like the result will be 332-206.

    I’m waiting for Obama’s victory speech, then I can finally go to bed.

  5. Elizabeth won in mass, wall st worse nightmare came true!!!!

  6. ” the day the western world fully fell under control of the illuminati”
    Would that be the illuminati that sought the abolition of the state in the name of liberty?
    If only. ;)

    Looks like Florida might go Obama – so that would mean 322 to 206.

    YouGov –
    Con 35, Lab 42, Lib 9, UKIP 7

  7. @ Michael (from the previous thread)

    “Is it just me who thinks Romney will be President elect this time tomorrow?

    See a very good Guardian article on how this is possible.

    The Bradley effect worries me.

    This isn’t the basis for my belief I should add. This is how I see it going. Obama 259 Romney 279.

    Romney will carry Florida, Colorado, Ohio, North Carolina and New Hampshire.

    Obama will carry Nevada, Iowa, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

    I think some people are ignoring (at their peril) the large and consistent lead that Romney holds with independents. Obama also has leads in early voting in most battleground states but the margin of the lead is less than 2008 with the difference being greater than his overall margin of victory. This will be enough to push Mitt Romney over the top.”


    Well you got one right I suppose.

  8. @ Anthony

    This was an early race. It was called before 11:30 pm eastern standard time, 8:30 in the west. Literally, I got on a Metro train just after California was projected for him, rode 4 stops, and as I was riding the escalator up the subway steps, the guy in back of me and his girlfriend were excitedly telling me that Obama had won reelection. It was that fast. Obama’s victory speech was late but that was due to Romney not wanting to concede Ohio. Moronic (but probably deliberate) as he’d lost Virginia and Florida.

    Of course I also heard that Romney had only written a victory speech. So….perhaps he needed the time to write a concession.

    This will be a closer race than it should be (racism still exists sadly) but wait until the morning, Obama has won the popular vote and this victory will grow. When Obama was declared the Presidential victor in 2008, he was leading by 1% in the national popular vote and the race was declared close. But by the morning, Obama had won nationwide by 7%. Urban strongholds report last.

    It will be narrower than last time but the District of Columbia provides a good baseline. Last time Obama got 93% of the vote there. Obama is getting 91% now, a 2% drop. I think he wins by 3-5% nationwide when all votes are finally calculated.

    Is Nate Silver a witch? Probably.

  10. @ Richard in Norway

    “Elizabeth won in mass, wall st worse nightmare came true!!!!”

    She ran for Senate to f**k some sh*t up. And now she can.

    You know, she joined a gang when she was only 11. She once broke a man’s arm just to see what it looked like. But do you know what she did right after that? She broke her own arm. It’s called EMPATHY.


    I’m so tired. Had a 14 hour election day. Really didn’t sleep last night. Nearly got hypothermia. Worth it.

    Donald Trump calls for a revolution.. deletes tweets not long after. ;)

  12. Well! A resounding victory for polling and poll meta analysis.

    Just waiting for gut feeling and intuition to concede…

  13. Nate Silver got all the States right on probabilities and he will probably get the popular vote right as well. You Gov did pretty well too – I think they were very close.

    Gallup and Rasmussen national polls were outliers in the closing weeks and in particular Rasmussen final state polls were very poor.

    I think that is why Romney thought he would win because he was listening to Rasmussen and the Republican commentators making excuses as to why the polls were wrong.

  14. @SocialLiberal

    Congratulations for helping Obama get re-elected

  15. @ Richard in Norway

    “Indeed it seems that turnout is high which should be good for obama”

    Indeed it was. At my precinct today, there was higher turnout than in 2008. Oddly enough, Obama did worse (though he still won) but I feel like in terms of raw votes, he really did hold his own. And you could tell that was happenning. A lot of young, white, preppy, folks dropped by to vote.

    Btw, once again, the electoral college winner wins the popular vote. And Obama’s popular vote lead is growing through the early hours of the morning as urban areas are being counted. They always get reported last and take a long time to count. And in some states, Obama is outperforming his 2008 performance or doing just under it.

    MSNBC just finally projected Virginia so I can go to bed. That was hours latert than it should have been (hours later than CNN and the AP did). I have no idea what they were waiting for. It’s been obvious now for over 3 hours! Omg. And Rachel Maddow says she’s stunned. She shouldn’t be. I don’t know who the people were who thought Virginia was a longshot for the Prez (though maybe I should accept it).

    Obama has won Florida btw. They won’t project it for him (perhaps because they won’t count all the ballots in Miami Dade County) but it’s over in that state.

    With Nevada and Florida factored in, Obama wins 332 electoral votes (should demand a recount in North Carolina).

    Today was the first ever National Lavender Sweep.

  16. Wow what a polarised country-50/49 according to CNN.


    CNN showed a coloured map by County result-you can hardly see the Blue.

    Let’s hope Obama can become a bit less partisan & try make the system work.

  17. YouGov approval below -30 .

    First time in a while ?

  18. By and large, a great night for the pollsters. Nate Silver in particular should be lauded for his numbers based predictions that seem eerily prescient.

    As @Colin said, the nation is deeply split though, and I’m struck (and appalled, if I’m to be honest) at some of the bile that seems to spill from some of the losers this morning. Some of them have barely done the decent congratulations bit, but are already saying Obama ‘lost’ and needs to change.

    I think the US has some pretty deep problems within it’s political life, and this deadlock and antagonism, far more than policies of individual camps, will not be good for the rest of the world in what is still a difficult and dangerous time.

  19. @ Couper2802

    “Congratulations for helping Obama get re-elected”

    Thanks man. It was millions of us. Millions. I was proud to do my part. I kept telling people that if all they did was do a small part, we’d get the President reelected and I feel that we did.

    Maybe next time, I’ll be actually working on a Presidential campaign (which would make this a lot more fun). I miss election night 2008 but I suppose it is one of a kind right?

    @ Amber Star

    As a feminist, you will appreciate this. New Hampshire is what Rachel Maddow now describes as “Ladies Time.” After tonight, their entire Congressional Delegation and their Governor are women. That’s right. Ann McClane Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter won both of the state’s Congressional seats tonight. (They are Democrats and defeated incumbent Republicans). Meanwhile, Maggie Hassan (the Democrat) completed her comeback and won the Governor’s race over Republican Ovide Lamogntagne. Both the state’s Senators (Jeanne Shaheen (D) and Kelly Ayotte (R)) are women too.

    Btw, this may actually expand in the morning because two Senate races are still too close to call in Nevada and North Dakota. But with Democratic women winning Senate seats tonight (and in some cases, managing to get reelected), there will be at least 19 women in the U.S. Senate.

    Oh and on Murphy counts. Chris Murphy won his Senate race tonight in Connecticut over his opponent (Worldwide Wrestling Chairwoman) who spent 50 million of her own money. Technically a Democratic hold but major improvement over Joe Lieberman. Right now, other Patrick Murphy has a less than 1000 vote lead over incumbent Congressman (as well as war criminal and certifiable lunatic) Allen West. He’s now declaring victory on his Twitter feed. Mark Murphy though fellt short in his challenge to Staten Island Congressman Mike Grimm. But he did do better than expected and with all the federal investigations going on, Grimm might not last all that long. My Murphys are cute but not as good looking your Murphy. :)

    I’m thrilled with this Nationwide Lavender Sweep this year. Just thrilled.

  20. “First time in a while ?”
    Most of the last few polls have had approval below -30.

  21. Tinged previous Polls to this :-

  22. I’ll talk to you guys later. I need to sleep (I do have to get up and go tow ork tommorow)

    @ Colin

    If you really believe what you’re saying, I’ve got the London Bridge to sell you. Be less partisan? Where to even begin? That’s like saying Sharon Tate should have been friendlier towards Charles Manson. I mean, give me a f**king break. And you know what, your commentary is so god damn ungracious but typical of Republican weirdos that even your own party knows to stay away from.

    And the percentage of popular vote victory (something that right wingers previously never cared about) is growing with every minute. And whatever you say about map colors, again, give me a f**king break. You don’t give votes to rocks and trees. What matters is the number of voters and people. There are more people who live in Manhattan than live in numerous states. The country is not divided. We just had an election. It’s over. We reelected the President. His victory must and should be respected. Btw, he’s only the second Democratic President to win over 50% of the vote besides Franklin Roosevelt (another great President).

    And Tory who rooted for Romney ought to question their distaste for the election of Clement Attlee over Winston Churchill. And btw, unlike Mitt Romney, Attlee actually had the god damn nerve to tell the British people just what his economic plans were and what he intended to do when he became Prime Minister. He didn’t change his positions every other day when his positions became unpopular. Clement Attlee was also not a racist, homophobic sociopathic prick.

  23. @Colin
    “Let’s hope Obama can become a bit less partisan & try make the system work.”

    Become a Republican you mean?

  24. Alec,

    You see it in academia too. I remember at university thinking that American students and professors simply weren’t that good at logical argument, until it dawned on me: they had never had to sit down with a conservative or (in a few cases) a liberal and have a civil debate. These were people who were (and are) much brighter than me, but I was able to run rings around them simply because I’d been debating with intelligent social conservatives and people on the left for years.

    I’d attribute it to the coincidence of two terrible things: on the one hand, the rise of the religious right and the rise of “Christian values” as a substitute for argument; on the other hand, the declining influence of traditional liberal/socialist American thinkers like John Dewey and JK Galbraith after the 1950s/1960s, with historicism, psychoanalysis and other substitutes for critical thinking taking the place of Deweyan values.

    Neither the appeal to Christian values (which is curiously based on terminology imported from Nietzsche, as documented by Allan Bloom in “The Closing of the American Mind”) nor the work of historicists like Mirowski or Stahl is going to lead to conservatives and liberals being able debate like Galbraith and Buckley could debate (and be skiing buddies too!). “God hates abortion” and “Conservatives are tools of the One Percent” are substitues for critical thinking; they’re to critical thinking what quorn is to meat.

    Put scientifically: 80% of university professors in America vote Democrat; 80% of Baptist preachers vote Republican. These people won’t experience an environment where their beliefs are questioned, and the communication breakdown between left and right (which I would trace back to radical movements in the 1960s for the left and the reaction to Roe vs. Wade for the right) in America is a symptom of this echo chamber effect. People who live in different echo chambers will forget how to talk to each other.

  25. norbold,

    I’d like to think that it’s possible to negotiate and compromise with others without becoming one of them. So Reagan was not a Democrat and Obama is not a Republican.

  26. (Ok, Reagan WAS a Democrat, but not as president.)

  27. @ SoCal

    As a feminist, you will appreciate this.
    I do indeed :-) And I LOL at your response to Colin’s comment because it was close to what I was thinking.

    This was a vote of confidence in the President; to be re-elected in the present circumstances was a huge achievement.

    Congratulations to you & all Democrats for winning four more years of an iconic president. His place in history is now assured.

  28. Socal

    Wow, you really slapped Colin hard, I can tell you have had a long hard campaign, you don’t usually lose your cool like that

  29. And good morning to you Socal.

    You probably need to get some sleep.

    Congratulations by the way

    :-) :-) :-)

  30. I feel deeply sad for the American people. They have chosen to re-elect a weak President whose policies will ensure the decline of a once great Nation. It is also clear as Colin says above that the Nation is deeply divided, almost as much as it was in 1861. Still at least the Republicans control the House of Representatives and will be able to stop the worst of his policies

  31. Are they still squawking over Ohio?


    @”they’re to critical thinking what quorn is to meat.”

    That explains it nicely :-)

  33. The Other Howard

    Yeah and if the Republicans won with the same vote as Obama won then it would had been a resounding result.

    Obama inherited a shocking mess after the Republican ruined the economy. 4 years was never nearly enough time to clean up after Bush.

  34. It’s strange, when the Tories limped into government in the UK I never heard people talking of a divided nation.

  35. ALLAN

    Is Alec a Tory?

    Surely not!

  36. COLIN

    Hmm he could have a wee hint of Tory-ishm in him but don’t tell anyone. ;)

  37. This is what I mean by the way it was in American political debates (on TV!) –

  38. (Although note in JKG’s opening remarks that the word ‘reason’ was already acquiring the meaning ‘what all good folks believe’, rather than the Deweyean idea of being open to reasoned argument.)

  39. SoCal,

    Congratulations to you and your party. A victory which means the rest of the world can breath a sigh of relief.

  40. @Rob Sheffield

    Yes, you did misinterpret me.

    You said that you were going to watch Fox to “drink in the disappointment and bias”. The link I gave you was to a conservative commentator who was convinced earlier that Romney was going to win and cited the “South Park” episode “Scott Tenorman Must Die”. In that episode Cartman literally drank the tears of disappointment of his enemy. Since that commentator had comprehensively lost, I thought you may appreciate the irony.

    Regards, Martyn

  41. American reporter in London said. “If the rest of the world outside the USA had a vote in this election then Obama would had won around 70 to 90%”


  42. @Socal
    Congratulations to you and your colleagues. Great result.

  43. Good Morning All.

    What a night and early morning that was for those of us who can remember Nixon winning in 1968 and 1972.

    The Republicans seem genuinely angry.

    The contrasts between the two USA party rallies in terms of backgrounds seemed to be enormous.

    Therefore the partisan tag works both ways, I think.

  44. Congratulations to Nate Silver and 538. I wonder if he has now boned up on UK FPTP so that next time he does better. I’ll watch him in 2015 for certain.

    Pretty good effort yourself Anthony, well done IIMSS.

    I was interested to see the result of E Warren (Mass). She is a remarkable woman – watch for her further progress, I predict she will be well known to you all before long.

    I am still surprised at the sometimes great differences in States between the results for Pres/Gov/ Senate (not so much House as that is more like our constituencies). These are the same voters voting, clearly not on purely party basis. That is actually a good advert for FPTP in certain respects. It strengthens my support for the Scottish and Welsh voting systems that give a proportion to local representation and some to general viewpoints.


  45. Socal will be in bed now but i forgot to add my congratulations to him. I notice at the moment that Ruiz may win from Bono Mack but it was close when I looked.

    Reading back, I see some of you really did stay up. I realise that I am not such an anorak after all. Actually, Nate’s analysis was so convincing in the lead-up, I wondered what all the ‘too close to call’ nonsense was about.

    Good that ‘push pollers’ (my definition, not yours AW!) do not have any discernible effect on the outcome.

  46. Didn’t stay up, because, unlike the rest of you, I now fully believe the pollsters :-)

    Was interesting looking through the thread though this morning although no real doubts or uncertain moments like the London Mayor where a few people had straws to clutch to. It may be a poison chalice for Obama as it’s a dodgy economy to deal with plus additionally having to deal with the House of representatives to get anything through. Also it’s the president who will go down in history as a good one or a bad one not ‘he had problems getting the tea party to agree to anything’.

    @ Couper- I am sure the exit polls in 1992 got it right- it was the polls leading up to it that were wrong. I remember it being a shock when the exit polls came out and thinking they must be wrong. Not qure if they poredicted a Tory majority but definitely a Tory lead (or at least one did).

    @ Paul Croft- Wigan also calls them pants. After moving up there I was surprised to see pants being discussed in mixed company!

    @ Robin Hood. When you mentioned about one of your girlfriends saying you spent too much time on the internet I had visions of you sneaking out of bed at Midnight after she had gone to sleep so you could catch the election on here. Also visions of the other one (who presumably doesn’t mind) winking at you as you got up!

  47. Fox News exit poll shows that 53% of voters still blame Bush for their economic situation.

    IMO this is a major factor in the victory of Obama. Reducing taxes and increasing military spending are hardly going to reduce the deficit.

  48. Bill Patrick
    ‘Put scientifically: 80% of university professors in America vote Democrat; 80% of Baptist preachers vote Republican.’

    I do not recognise the ‘science’ in your contention. I do recognise that professors would be more interested in researching facts and Baptist preachers not so interested or so capable.

    However, it could be that 80% of professors are religious, but I don’t see what any of that has to do with political views.

    If you discovered that 80% of atheists voted Dem, then I think you would be on safer ground.

    So Profs vs ‘no GSCEs’ and atheists vs believers would be better choices IMO, but whether that is ‘put scientifically’ I am not so sure. :-)

  49. Just like to add my congratulations to Socal and his Democratic comrades, and of course to President Obama. Seems by far the best result to me.

    Unsurprisingly listening to the polls seems to have given the expected result. Every state seems to have gone the way the averages the day of the election said it would. This contrasts with our last election where from what I remember the Lib Dem projections were inflated until the exit polls were published.

    In regards to Nate Silver, I remember he was involved in a minor dispute before our 2010 election as to whether constituencies would swing proportionally or universally. I recall neither was particularly accurate, suggesting a more complex model might be needed for predicting our elections.

  50. @john pilgrim from previous thread.
    “whatever should be cut?”
    Defense, stupid. Watch this space now that O is reelected for a global detente including N.Korea, Syria and Afghanistan.
    Allan Christie
    ….If the rest of the world outside the USA outside the USA had a vote….”
    Including the woman manager of my computer shop in Buddhist Vientiane an hour ago, who quoted the margin of Obamas’s victory and said of Romney, incredulously: “Do you know he said raped women should not have an abortion, because life is God given?!” That alone would have earned Romeny a no vote from 50% of the world’s population and 90% of the rest of us.

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