Election Night Survival Guide, Part IV
(See Part I, Part II, Part III)
At 8:30 AR closes and is called quickly for McCain, making the count 82-75 for Obama with a handful of states still counting in which the outcome is not clear. Let's presume that with a strong close for the underdog, McCain gets IN and NC finally called for him putting him ahead 101-82. As the polls close at 9 Eastern in 14 more states, we're still waiting on VA, PA, FL, OH, MO. Those 14 will boost McCain's total to 161, after KS, LA, WY, TX, NE and SD, and Obama's to 154, after RI, NY, WI, MN and MI. Some of those may take longer to call than others (MN for Obama, SD for McCain), but I think not too long over the course of the hour once vote tallies start coming in.
Of these states there is one race to watch: Franken v. Coleman in MN. I am skeptical of Franken's chances, if only because MN always seems to close up in the GOP favor. But if there was no other election on Nov. 4, I'd still be glued to my TV for results in this one. It is key to the Dem chances of getting to 60 Senators. It's also a grudge match as Franken has always loathed Coleman for his treatment of the Wellstone tragedy 6 years ago.
Minnesota also holds one of the House races to watch, as Michele Bachmann tries to hold on to her seat after suggesting we should have investigations into whether members of Congress (and Barack Obama) are "anti-American". Until she said that on national TV, she was going to win easily. Now, she may not.
Back to President, that adds 3 more states to those we're waiting on for results, as it will be too tight for networks to make a call before they get significant actual vote totals: AZ, CO, and NM. I just can't believe AZ will go for Obama so let's suppose McCain holds his home state after an hour or 2 of worrying over the numbers, putting him ahead 171-154.
New Mexico: Obama should win. It could take a while. New Mexico was counting into the wee hours of the morning in 2004 and in 2000. Assuming some of those early close states start to tilt McCain (GA, IN, NC, FL, OH, even VA), then NM joins a group of Western states that should help Obama over the top at the end, along with especially...
Colorado: If McCain looks to be winning all of those big Bush '04 states like OH and FL, then CO becomes a key buffer. Obama is ahead there but not by much. If somehow McCain is toppling PA too, CO is one of the states we will be counting on to undo that.
Let's give NM to Obama - where his lead has been fairly strong, making the McCain lead 171-159 and leave CO in the tossup line with VA, PA, OH, MO and FL, heading into 10:00, and even though this looks to give the GOP an advantage a little too late into the night, I am breathing easy, so long as it looks like Obama is doing well in PA...and now watching CO. Those are 2 he *should win* and are the only 2 of those I would say he *needs to win* to keep me from entering a phase 1 panic.
Shorter Version of 9 PM Closing: After this hour, network calls may have the race looking pretty close, but it's really about only a couple states. Even if everything goes right for McCain, it's about PA and CO at this point. If Obama takes CO, he will be eating into the Bush map with a clear route to victory. If McCain takes PA, he will be undercutting that path on one of his only chances to win. Assuming Obama wins them both, he can lose VA, OH, MO and FL (along with all the other close ones I've given to McCain) and still be well-positioned to win.