Monday, November 5, 2012

All the Pretty Numbers, or When Can I Go to Bed Tomorrow?

Some of you may have just heard that there is an election tomorrow.  Others, like me, have been obsessively following this election since the last election ended.  Still others have taken a casual interest in the election, paying attention only when something truly noteworthy is in the news.  Any which way, it's all coming to a close tomorrow night.  And the biggest question on everyone's mind is, at what point can I go to bed?  I'll give you some early signs to let you know which way the election is breaking, below the fold...

Luckily for our intrepid watchers, most of the highly contested states are in the Eastern time zone, so we should get a sense pretty early about which way the election is headed.  If you want to play around with your electoral projections, go to here, and enter our live blog contest tomorrow to see if you are correct.

Obama wins scenarios:

- Those who wish to go to bed early should be rooting for an Obama win.  His path to the required 270 electoral votes is much easier than Romney's.  The earliest and best indicators of an Obama victory?  If Obama wins both North Carolina and Virginia, you can pretty much call it a night, the Romney campaign is done.  Both are purple states, with Virginia currently polling as leaning Obama, and North Carolina as leaning Romney.  The polls close in Virginia at 7pm, and in North Carolina at 7:30pm.  Results should be released shortly thereafter.

- As we move further along in early Obama win scenarios, we look at the state of Florida.  If Obama somehow manages to eke out a win there, Romney is pretty much a goner.  Feel free to turn in and snuggle next to someone warm.  However, the polls don't close in Florida until 8pm (due to the western panhandle), so you may be kept up a little later than you would under the Virginia/North Carolina scenario.

- Going further west (but no later into the night), if Obama wins every state that he is projected to win, and Romney wins every state that he is projected to win, the next battleground will be over Ohio, whose polls close at 7:30pm.  It's a do or die state for Romney, and if he doesn't win here, his chances for succeeding anywhere else are exceedingly slim.  The problem is that Romney is behind in the polls for that state.  So if Ohio is called for Obama, and it may happen relatively early, Obama supporters, feel free to throw your free birth control pills up in the air in celebration, and call all of your pinko comrade friends.  Romney supporters, go to bed crying angry tears, whispering in your pillow, "We would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn't been for those meddling kids!"

- Later battleground states include Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada.  If it goes drags along to any of those states, we all have a very long night ahead of us.

Romney wins scenarios:

- The problem with a Romney wins scenario, besides the obvious, is that it will take much further along the night to develop.  The President has a much bigger safety net than Romney does, and so it is much harder for any one state to deliver a death blow.  This means a Romney win will only be very apparent later on in the night.  However, there are some leading indicators.  The Romney campaign has spent tons of money in a late move in Pennsylvania.  Pennsylvania has been a reliably blue state for decades now.  However, if Romney manages to win there (its polls close at 8pm), in defiance of all previous polling and history, it will be a Romney blowout election.  Democrats, go to bed, weeping, covered in ashes, flailing yourselves bloody, also known as a normal Tuesday night for you.  Republicans, savor that tall, cold glass of milk, shouting in triumph, "Fudge yeah!" to no one in particular, before turning in to dream of how many widowed women with children you can turn out into the street.  Sweet dreams!

- No other probable Romney win scenario leads to an early bedtime.  Obama can lose Ohio, and still win the election.  He can lose Florida, and still win.  Obama can lose both Virginia and North Carolina, and still win.  So we would have to wait for the later time zone states to report before finding out anything. Minnesota and Wisconsin polls don't close until 9pm, and Iowa polls don't close until 10pm.  It may be a long night indeed, especially if the count is close.

Clusterbuck scenarios:

- The scenario that always comes up in every election, but has never actually happened in real life, is the event of an electoral college tie.  Pundits salivate over the thought of increased ratings and long drawn dramatic potential.  Here's how it could, but probably won't, happen: Romney wins North Carolina, Florida, New Hampshire, Ohio, Iowa, and Nevada, in very rough order of likelihood.

Obama, meanwhile, keeps Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Colorado, and Virginia in the Democratic column.

That combination of states adds up to 269 votes for each candidate.  The election is then thrown to the House of Representatives, where, if the Republicans maintain control, they will select Mitt Romney.  The selection of the Vice President will go to the Senate, controlled by the Democrats, where they will probably select Joe Biden, though the pressure will be enormous to select Paul Ryan, and Democratic politicians do not have a great record of holding up well under political pressure, so we will see.

If that scenario happens, you will have long since gone to bed, or become a caffeine-addicted zombie.  Either which way, happy Election Day Eve!


  1. I'm now going to start using "cluster buck" in casual conversation. Like all the time.

  2. "Did you see that girl run into the pole, and then fall flat on her face? What a clusterbuck!"

    "Its a real clusterbuck situation we have down in Florida, with that early voting debacle."

  3. Thanks Mandi, this post was both hilarious and helpful!