Sunday, October 26, 2008

Election Night Preview: McCain’s Path to Victory

With about 200 hours to go before Election Day begins, I thought we would take a look of how election night may go. Will this be another late night with the results not determined until the wee hours of the morning or even days later as we have come to expect in the last couple elections or will we return to a 1996 type election when we saw Bob Dole concede in time to turn in and get a good night sleep? What state if any will be written on the white board ala Tim Russert and “Florida, Florida, Florida.”

5:00 PM (CST) – The first polls will close in Kentucky and Indiana, at least in the Eastern Time Zone portion so the networks should start making projections. In Kentucky, McCain leads by double digits so there is little double the first electoral projection of the night will be McCain 8, Obama 0. The real state to watch though will be Indiana. The polls here vary widely with Rasmussen showing McCain up by seven and Big 10 battleground showing Obama up by ten. I predict a McCain victory here but the margin of victory will be telling. If McCain wins big and the state is called early, this will be an early indication that the polls are closer than they appear which is good news for McCain. Prediction by 5:15, McCain 19, Obama 0.

6:00 PM (CST) – Six states close including key battleground states of Virginia, New Hampshire, and Florida (Eastern Time Zone Portion). Georgia and South Carolina should be quickly called for McCain while Vermont should be the first state in Obama’s column quickly followed by New Hampshire, where I believe Obama will win. At this point, Virginia will be the key state to watch; if quickly wins this one, it will be a very short night and a landslide for Obama. I think we will see McCain ahead in Florida but I believe the networks will hold off calling it until numbers come in from the panhandle when the polls close there an hour later. Prediction by 6:15, McCain 42, Obama 7, with Virginia and Florida still too close to call.

6:30 PM (CST) – Only three states close at this time - Ohio, North Carolina, and West Virginia - but they are all important for McCain’s strategy. I feel that McCain will win all three of these but again losing even one will signal that Obama should win comfortably. I predict West Virginia and North Carolina (in that order) will be called sometime before 7:00 bringing the electoral scoreboard to McCain 62, Obama 7, with Virginia, Florida, and now Ohio too close to call.

7:00 PM (CST) – This is a big closing time with 17 so the scoreboard will quickly add up with probably 14 of them called immediately. Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas, and South Dakota should all quickly be added to the McCain column while Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia should all go to Obama. Three states here are listed as battleground and should be delayed in being marked off but I think Michigan will eventually go to Obama, followed by Missouri for McCain and then Pennsylvania for Obama. In addition, sometime during this hour, I think we will see McCain the projected winner for Florida and Virginia. So, along with the sole state of Arkansas closing at 7:30, I think we will approach the 8:00 hour with the score, McCain 189, Obama 120, with Ohio still up in the air.

8:00 (CST) – Nine states close at this hour with only two of them considered battleground - Wisconsin and Minnesota – but both lean heavily toward Obama. I think all these states will be called fairly quickly with Arizona, Louisiana, Kansas, Nebraska, and Wyoming going to McCain and New York and Rhode Island and eventually Wisconsin and Minnesota going to Obama. As the 9:00 hour approaches, I predict Ohio will finally be called for McCain the electoral scoreboard will start to tighten up with be McCain 242, Obama 175.

9:00 (CST) – These will be an interesting close with eight states closing including half battleground states. Utah, Idaho, North Dakota, and Montana should quickly be called for McCain; while Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico will have very close numbers. These states will be all about turnout and by this point we should see some pretty strong trends. If my above predictions are all incorrect, then Obama will have “big mo” on his side by now and these states will be the ones to put him over the top. However, if my predictions hold true then these states will be razor thin. I think Iowa will be the first to fall into Obama column but it will be much closer than predicted. Followed by Nevada, which will fall for McCain. My prediction heading into the 10:00 hour will be, McCain 262, Obama 182 with Colorado and New Mexico still too close to call.

10:00(CST) – This will be Obama’s hour to catch up when the remaining three west coast states of California, Washington, and Oregon will close and will almost immediately be called for him. Then sometime by around 10:30 Colorado will be called for Obama as the last of the Denver precincts come in. As we wait for Alaska and Hawaii to close, the electoral scoreboard will now be McCain 262, Obama 264 with New Mexico still too close to call.

11:00 (CST) – The last two states will close and without any surprise, Hawaii will be called for Obama and Alaska will be called for McCain. This will bring the electoral scoreboard to McCain 265, Obama 268. Sometime around 11:15 someone at NBC, perhaps Brian Williams, will pull out Russert's dry erase board and write across it, “NEW MEXICO. NEW MEXICO. NEW MEXICO.”

Sometime well after midnight, the last precincts will close for New Mexico and by a very narrow margin, the state will be called for John McCain. The networks will be reluctant to call it for him, as no doubt every election attorney that works for the Obama Campaign will descend on Santa Fe. However, sometime around mid-day on November 5, it will be apparent that there will be no chance of changing the result and Obama will delivery his concession speech where it all began on the steps of the Springfield, Illinois Courthouse. Final electoral Scoreboard will be McCain 270, Obama 268.

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