Election Night Survival Guide, Part V (final)
By 10 PM Eastern, barring a judge leaving polls open late, 11 states will be left to close. There could be lots of close states still not called. Iowa, Montana, Nevada and Utah will close the polls at 10. One hour later California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Idaho, and North Dakota will stop, and 2 hours after that, at 1 AM, Alaska will close. Most of these will not be close. Obama should add 84 EVs after IA, CA, OR, WA, and HI. McCain will add 15 with AK, ND, ID, and UT. McCain is trying in IA, but I don't think he will be successful, polls have shown double-digit Obama leads - a key Democratic pickup from 2004. If we add those totals to the projections I've already made - giving GA, IN, NC, AZ and WV to McCain and NM, NH, MN to Obama - Obama will lead 243 - 186.
Other races to watch out West? I've got my eye on 3: California's Prop 8 which would overturn the court's gay marriage provision, if passed. Should be close and will be one of those disappointments to make the night less jubilant if it is successful. In Oregon, Democrats expect to pick up Jeff Smith's Senate seat, a necessary one for the fight for 60. And netroots favorite Darcy Burner is giving a second try to take Dave Reichert's House seat in WA-8.
As for Pres, this hour adds 2 states - MT and NV - to the waiting list.
Montana would be gravy, and with a popular Democratic Governor, it could go for Obama but is not necessary, or really expected. Let's assume McCain pulls it out eventually, making his total 189.
Nevada is becoming a key state to join CO and NM in a Western state strategy to overcome possible loss in PA. Obama seems to be ahead here and even if everything up in the air goes McCain's way all night, they are the last line of defense that would still send Obama to the White House.
At 243, that leaves Barack 27 short with FL (27), OH (20), MO (11), CO (9), VA (13), PA (21), NV (5) still to be determined. Let's take Ohio off the table, if only because I believe if he wins OH he will have won PA and the presidency right there. So give that to McCain to make it 243 - 206 with 6 states left. Even if OH goes down, here's how Obama wins - with any one of these scenarios:
1. Win Florida. Voila. 27. Lose all the rest including PA and he's still President.
2. Win PA plus any of the other 4: CO, VA, MO or NV (though NV would leave it at a 269-269 tie and send it to the House. Nightmare.)
3. Win VA + any 2 of NV, MO, CO.
Even if McCain is successful in PA (and OH and FL), he has to hold off Obama in VA to pull the upset.
Shorter late-night version: Assuming New Mexico comes through as indicated by polls, hold PA and only one other thing has to go our way, with many to choose from. Plus options remain even if PA falls.