I've been recruited by the newsroom to bring you an election blog. This will start Tuesday when the first exit polls are released in the afternoon. These usually leak out to various sites -- I'll track them down and let you know what they say. These will be the first polls of actual votes and should tell us a lot.
I know some folks have a problem with these exit polls saying that they are a disincentive for people to vote, but I believe in getting out information ASAP so I'll pass them along.
Now, here's what to look for Tuesday night in terms of the race for president and Congress.
Mid-afternoon: Early exit poll data released. First of all, if you aren't hearing the words "shocking" and "upset" then it probably means McCain is going down to defeat. If you average all the polls out, Obama has a 5-8 point lead. Now, Clinton led Dole by as many as 14 points on the weekend before the 1996 election and only won by 6 and Obama polled about 3-6 points too high during the primaries, so it's certainly within the real of possibility that those numbers are off, but it's highly unlikely. If you are hearing from those exit poll numbers that McCain is "doing slightly better" or has "narrowed the gap" it is probably still code for "he's going to lose."
6 p.m. Polls in PARTS of Indiana and Kentucky close. There will probably not be a network call in either of these states until all polls close.
7 p.m. Polls close in ALL of Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia, S.C., Vermont, and Georgia as well as MOST of Florida and N.H. At this point, we will learn a lot. Indiana has been moved by many into the "too close to call" TCTC margin. The longer in the night we go without a call being made in Indiana, the worse it is for McCain. But if Indiana is called early for McCain, that's a sign the election could be tight. Same with Virginia --it's actual an Obama lean right now. If it gets called early for Obama, Dems might as well go ahead and pop the bubbly. Florida is obviously a must win for McCain.
Still, it's likely that all of these states will be TCTC right away, which brings us to Georgia. If it is ALSO TCTC, it's bad news for McCain. Kentucky should go for McCain early. If not, it's going to be a HUGE night for Obama. Also, keep an eye on New Hampshire. Those folks like underdogs and have always gravitated toward McCain -- could be an upset possibility.
Skip says: McCain gets Indiana, Kentucky, S.C. and Georgia; Obama wins Florida, Virginia, Vermont and N.H.
7:30: Polls close in N.C., W.V. and Ohio. McCain has to have these Bush states and the Dole-Hagan Senate race will also be very telling as to the final makeup of the Senate.
Skip says: McCain wins N.C. in a squeaker and W.V.; Obama wins Ohio. Also, Hagan over Dole
8 p.m.: Polls close in Pa., Missouri, Maine, Connecticut, Mass., New Jersey, Delaware, Md., D.C., Mississippi, Alabama, Illinois, Tenn., Oklahoma. By now, we should have an excellent idea what is going to happen. If states like Indiana and Georgia have still not been called, it's a big night for Obama. Or, if states like Virginia and Florida have already been called for Obama, the same will be true.
Skip says: McCain wins Missouri;, Miss., Alabama, Tenn., Oklahoma; Obama wins Pa., Connecticut, Maine, Mass., N.J., Delaware, Md., D.C., Illinois.
8:30 p.m. Polls close in Arkansas.
Skip says: McCain wins Arkansas.
9 pm.: Arizona, Colorado, N. Mexico, Minnesota, Michigan, Texas, Louisiana, Kansas, Nebraska, N.D., S.D., NY. Wyoming, Wisconsin and Rhode Island. If the race is still in the air, Colorado will be crucial. New Mexico has been decided by a handful of votes in the last 2 elections and there is no reason to think otherwise this year.
Skip says: McCain wins Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Kansas, Nebraska, N.D., S.D., Wyoming; Obama wins Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, N.Y., Wisconsin, R.I.
10 p.m.: Polls close in Nevada, Iowa, Montana and Utah. Iowa is solid Obama. Nevada is a tossup. Montana is usually solid GOP, but some polling indicates it might be close. If Obama wins states like this, the rout is on.
Skip says: McCain wins Nevada, Montana, Utah; Obama wins Iowa
11 p.m.: California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Hawaii (later, Alaska)
Obama should be giving his acceptance speech by now -- if not, the night is a total shocker
McCain wins Idaho, Alaska; Obama wins California, Oregon,Washington, Hawaii.
Skip's final electoral tally: Obama 328, McCain 210.
Understand, however, that this is still much closer than it looks.
Flip Florida, Virginia and Ohio and McCain wins.
Free free to leave your own projections. If you don't want to go over every state, just tell me on which states you disagree with me.