You have one weekend to rest and relax before the big day. Unless of course you’re a candidate or working for one. Then there’s no rest for you.
Our election night results site is now live. There are a lot of great options and information for you to use, so take some time prior to Tuesday to familiarize yourself with all the features. You can have complete access just by signing up for a free account right now.
Now that you know where you’ll be following the results, you may want to think about what to watch for and when.
Decision Desk HQ Director Brandon Finnigan has broken down the night and what to watch for.
7:00 PM- POLLS CLOSED IN ALL OF INDIANA, KENTUCKY, VIRGINIA, VERMONT, GEORGIA, SOUTH CAROLINA, MOST OF FLORIDA, MOST OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
Races to eyeball before 7:30pm: VA2, VA7, VA10, VT GOV, SC01, NH01, NH GOV
Two New England gubernatorial races worth watching are both held by Republican incumbents with positive approval ratings and leads in limited polling- and perfect targets for Democrats. New Hampshire features a high concentration of independents, a group who, in polling, seem to currently favor democrats. Vermont is a progressive state which barely gave a county to President Donald Trump, nevertheless its Republican incumbent Phil Scott won by a convincing margin in the same year. Scott faces off against transgender candidate Christine Hallquist in what most are calling a safe race, but a poll by the VT Democratic Party found the Governor holding onto an eight point lead last month. Considering the political lean of the state and the general environment, a weak performance by Scott bodes poorly, however unlikely this turn of events, for other Republican candidates who have distanced themselves from the President. Keep an eye on central Vermont and Rutland, the latter a comparative Republican stronghold.
In neighboring New Hampshire, incumbent Republican Chris Sununu sports a polling lead and pleasant approval ratings but again faces off against an unpleasant environment. Watch returns from Rochester, Barrington, and Manchester in the first thirty minutes- most will have reported by then and a roughly even performance for Sununu keeps him in the game, an outright edge overall in these indicates he’s winning re-election.
Sticking around in New England, New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District is an important one. First, it has closely mirrored the national “Congressional popular vote” in each of the last six House elections. Second, it’s an open contest, no incumbent to hold things down for either side, giving us a possible glimpse of close open elections to come later in the evening. Watch returns from Laconia, Rochester, Barrington, and Manchester for clues before 7:30pm.
Leaving New England for Dixie, we encounter a trio of Virginia races and an interesting one in South Carolina. South Carolina’s 1st district saw one of the few successful primaries of an incumbent Congressperson- in this instance, Mark Sanford by more Trump-friendly candidate Katie Arrington. Arrington suffered serious injuries in a car accident just after the primary, prompting her Democratic opponent, Joe Cunningham, to suspend his campaign out of respect. They’ve been back at it since, and it remains the strongest opportunity in the state for a Democratic pickup. A win here, coupled with a close victory in Kentucky 6, by the Democrats could mean an early call of House control for the out party. Watch Charleston County’s returns in particular.
While eyeballing all of these contests, take a gander at the Old Dominion. Four seats are considered competitive, and three will give early indicators how much so. In Virginia’s 2nd, watch the quick returns out of Virginia Beach- this region should vote strongly Republican, so if Elaine Luria (D) is ahead of incumbent Republican Congressman Scott Taylor, it’s looking like a bad night for Virginia Republicans. Things probably won’t be looking hot for Rep. Dave Brat in the 7th district if the 2nd is terrible- monitor Chesterfield County for a very early indicator.
Lastly, the 10th district is one some have already written off as lost to the Democrats, but recent polling suggests incumbent Congresswoman Barbara Comstock isn’t yet out of the running against Jennifer Wexton. If Comstock somehow holds on in Loudon County, which reports the earliest, she has a chance to hold on. But if VA2 and VA7 are already looking bleak, don’t expect Loudon to be more cheerful. There is a fourth district worth watching, VA05, but most of its vote won’t be counted by 7:30pm.
Important note: don’t get sucked into watching Florida, Georgia, much of rural Virginia and South Carolina just yet, as they will barely be reporting until after 7:30 pm.
7:30pm- polls closing in West Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina.
By this point, nearly all of Florida’s early vote will be in, except Broward whichalways takes its sweet time. Watch both Governor and U.S. Senate. If Andrew Gillum and Bill Nelson are leading by wide margins, they’ll both overcome the more Republican-leaning election day vote. They almost certainly will when Broward finally drops its early vote between 7:35 and 7:45pm. A close contest is going to drag a while through the election day vote count, which will begin roughly now and continue well past 11:30pm. Returns in Florida’s 26th and 27th should be giving us a good idea of how both will finish.
Early votes will pile in from Ohio over the next 45 minutes. Expect a Democratic lead in the Governor’s race, in OH-12, and even OH-1 at this stage- the election day vote will determine the Republicans’ fates, unless they’re out of the early vote gate ahead, in which case it’s game over for their Democratic challengers.
West Virginia will roll in slowly, and don’t expect a lot in WV-03 in the first thirty minutes.
North Carolina features a pile of potentially close contests but two to watch most are NC-09 and NC-13. Republicans in both will likely trail in the initial vote- all of it early.
Returns in Portsmouth, Rochester, Manchester, Concord, Hanover and Dover will likely be in or mostly so by now, affecting the NH-Gov and NH-01 contests. With this batch of precincts in, expect a Democratic lead for Governor (narrowly) and a moderate one in NH-01. Anything less than that for them means a soon-to-call victory for Governor Sununu, and the possibility that Edwards can pull off a surprise in the First District.
8:00pm- polls close in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, all of New Hampshire, Maine, Texas (most), Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Illinois, Michigan (most), and Pennsylvania
A true blue wave will be strongly evident over the next thirty minutes:NJ2, NJ3, NJ7, NJ11, PA1, PA 5, PA6, IL6, IL12, IL13, IL14, MI8, M11, TX7, TX32, M02, NE2, KS2, KS3, ME2 will all start reporting within this time. Some, like TX7, TX32, you’ll need to wait for election day returns if close, but the rest won’t have an election day vs early vote split. The U.S. Senate races should be called by now for Pennsylvania and Ohio. Michigan Governor will look obvious if the polling holds, as will Maryland, Massachusetts, Alabama, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. For Tennessee and Texas Senate, watch the initial early vote, which will be in from every urban, suburban, and exurban county in the next 30-35 minutes (except Shelby in Tennessee, which takes a while). If Democrats really are going to pull off an upset in either, it will be evident in these early returns. If they fail to carry the early vote in either state, you’re close to writing it off. Watch, with particular interest, the Republican margins for Cruz in Fort Bend, Denton, and his deficit in Harris. If the former two are in the double digits, and the latter within ten or less, it will indeed be a fast one when El Paso closes one hour from now.
8:30pm– Election day votes are in for TX32, FL26, FL27, OH1, OH12, so if none were blowouts 30 minutes to an hour before, now is do-or-die for the trailing candidates. Arkansas closes, and AR-02 is the only race worth watching there, but if it’s close for the Republican incumbent, odds are we are already over a dozen seats having flipped to Team Blue. Maine’s Second District, which makes up the contested portion of the state for the Gubernatorial race, begins reporting.
The early votes from the exurbs of Atlanta have rolled in for Georgia Governor. In theory, as we move closer to Atlanta, the closer the final result will become. Cobb or DeKalb precincts or early votes should also begin to post.
Ohio Governor should begin shifting towards Republican DeWine IF he is going to become the eventual winner, but if an assumed early vote Cordray lead hasn’t budged, DeWine’s heartburn begins. Assuming things do narrow, watch carefully what remains for election day from Butler, Cuyahoga, Delaware, Franklin, Hamilton and Licking.
Run up to 9:00pm– ALL polls have now closed in Texas, Michigan, New York, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Colorado begins counting its votes. NBC News had called control of the US House in 2010 for the Republican Party at 9:06pm. Texas and Michigan’s respective Gubernatorial and Senatorial races should be called at this time, if polling holds. If polling doesn’t, well, you’ll have to wait until Monday to see where you need to look next!