Watching The Results From Key States

The pundits and polls predict a victory for Barack Obama tonight. While watching there are two key questions–is the night turning out as predicted and, if so, how big a victory? Here’s the states to watch.

First there’s the three biggest states which might be in play: Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida. Obama has had a strong lead in Pennsylvania, but McCain has been trying to get it to flip from blue to red. Obama also has smaller leads in Ohio and Florida. If he wins any one of these he will probably win since other red states appear likely to flip. If he wins two out of three it is hard to see any possible way for John McCain to accumulate 270 electoral votes.

Barack Obama is expected to win because of holding all of the states John Kerry won in 2004 along with picking up additional states. The most likely minimum road to 270 electoral votes would add Iowa, New Mexico, and Colorado. Obama has been leading in these, and seeing how these turn out will tell if the conventional wisdom is correct. In case he should have trouble in any of these states, among the others most likely to flip are Virginia and Nevada.

If Obama wins all or most of these we move on to other states where he has a weaker lead to see if this will turn into a landslide. Additional states where Obama has a lead in recent polls include Ohio and Florida as mentioned above. North Carolina is probably the next most likely to flip. If everything goes Obama’s way other red states which might flip are Missouri, Indiana, Georgia, North Dakota, and Montana. Arizona is also close, and would probably go Democratic if John McCain was not on the ballot. I doubt Obama can win in Arizona, but if he does win the state there will probably be a huge landslide. Another long shot where Obama has an outside chance, where victory might indicate a major landslide, is West Virginia.

John McCain has two potential ways to win. One would be to hold on to the bulk of the states which George Bush won, only losing smaller states if any. This appears difficult with Obama having leads in several red states. Recognizing this, McCain has been trying to get Pennsylvania and New Hampshire to flip. Taking Pennsylvania would give McCain a real shot, but there are also many ways for Obama to win without Pennsylvania. New Hampshire would only help McCain if the election turns out to be much closer than expected.

There are even scenarios where each candidate could be within one electoral vote of winning. In that case, watch Nebraska and Maine which divide up their electoral votes by Congressional district rather than being winner take all. Should there be a tie at 269 electoral votes each Obama should win assuming that the Democrats do as expected in the House races.

The time when the polls close in these key states can make a difference, but if close it might take much longer to receive a result. Poll closing times are eastern standard time.

Polls close at 6 p.m. in Indiana. A win here will suggest Obama is off to a huge victory. (Part of the state does not close until 7 p.m.)

Polls close at 7 p.m. in Georgia and Virginia If Obama takes Virginia he is meeting expectations  but he does have ways to win without the state. A win in Virginia probably means Obama will win unless he loses a state he is expected to win such as Pennsylvania. If Obama wins in Georgia it will probably mean that Obama will go on to an easy win early in the evening.

Polls close at 7:30 p.m. in North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia. A win in any one of these will probably mean victory for Obama.

Polls close at 8 p.m. in Florida, Missouri, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. He is expected to win New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, and failure to do so would leave open the possibility of defeat depending upon how he does elsewhere. Wins in Florida or Missouri would probably mean Obama  will win the election.

Polls close at 9 p.m. in Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. He is expected to win both, and these would probably clinch the election for him along with the Kerry states and Iowa. He could still win without taking both provided he picks up other red states. A win in Arizona would suggest a landslide.

Polls close at 10 p.m. in Iowa, Montana, and Nevada. Obama is expected to win easily in Iowa. He doesn’t need the others assuming that he wins the other states he is expected to win. Nevada and Montana could replace other states in providing the win if he hasn’t won yet in some of the other states expected to flip. They could also help with a landslide should Obama have already won in the other toss up states.

Polls close at 11 p.m. in North Dakota. This is another state which is close and which might mean a landslide should Obama win.

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