And with the first poll close
here is a story from today Detroit News
to what to watch for tonight on this historic night
Pundits and pollsters may be trying to take all the fun out of Election Day. So many have predicted a lopsided victory for Sen. Barack Obama over Sen. John McCain that you might wonder why even to bother watching the returns tonight.
The fact is, there is plenty of mystery -- and there is only one poll that counts.
Aim to have the popcorn popped and to be on the couch no later than 7 p.m. Now, a guide of highlights to watch for today:
Setting the table: The networks are not supposed to call a state until all the polls in that state have closed. But there will be lots of raw data online, so you can go on the Web, check the returns and try calling the state yourself.
And they're off: The suspense starts in Indiana. Most polls close at 6 p.m. and others at 7 p.m. Indiana is a ruby red state where Obama has been running closely with McCain. Be wary of results that do not include Gary, a city with a substantial African-American population. If Obama wins it, Indiana could be the canary in the coal mine predicting disaster ahead for McCain.
• Also, at 7 p.m., polls close in Virginia and Georgia, and polls close in most of Florida and New Hampshire.
All eyes will quickly veer to Virginia, which Obama has labored to win. If he succeeds in the former capital of the one-time Confederacy, he will most likely do exceedingly well the rest of the night. Subtracting Virginia from the Republican column would give McCain very few routes to 270 electoral votes.
Orange crush? Florida, a voting experience unto itself. Whoever wins Florida, the fourth-largest state, gets a big leg up on winning the presidency. Again, if McCain loses here, his path narrows. But the race is so close that Florida may not portend much about the rest of the country.
Palate cleansers: At 7:30 p.m., polls close in Ohio and North Carolina. While Ohio is the bigger prize, keep your eyes on North Carolina (where officials have the option of keeping the polls open until 8:30 p.m. if there are problems). North Carolina is a red state that is newly competitive, again thanks to an Obama ground organization. If North Carolina votes for Obama, the map is likely to bleed blue for the rest of the night.
As for Ohio, it is not clear whether the adage still applies that no Republican has won the presidency without carrying Ohio since Abraham Lincoln.
Main course: At 8 p.m., Pennsylvania and Missouri finish voting.
Pennsylvania, of course, is the keystone to McCain's survival strategy: It is the one big blue state where he has staked his claim, in anticipation of losing some smaller red states. If he wins there, it would keep him alive and scramble the picture for Obama. Missouri is another red state where the contest looks close. But it frequently has voting issues that delay the count, so don't expect right away to add this to one column or the other. When you do get results, Missouri is usually with the winner.
The call: Conventional wisdom suggests that if Obama wins, he would do so early, because the polls in so many toss-up states -- Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and Florida -- close early. Long lines or problems could delay the count. Watch to see how skittish, or not, the networks are about calling the states and the final outcome.
A two-screen night: This is the first presidential election in which the Web will be a major source of live information. This puts even more pressure on the networks to remind viewers of their resources and heft -- and to offer something different. Check out the holograms on CNN. The networks are offering more bells and whistles this year, but they are competing with cable channels and their own Web sites.
A note of caution: If a network calls a state, you might be able to extrapolate something. But if a network does not call a state, don't read too much into it.
Here's what else is at stake in today's election:
• Senate: Voters in 33 states will choose 35 senators, 33 for six-year terms. Special elections are being held in Mississippi and Wyoming, to fill the remaining four years in seats now held by gubernatorial appointees. At stake are 23 seats held by Republicans and 12 by Democrats.
• House: All 435 House seats are up for election. Republicans hold 199 seats, Democrats 235, with one vacancy.
• Governors: Voters in 11 states are electing governors, with tight races in Washington, North Carolina and Indiana. Republicans are trying to chip away at Democrats' 28-22 gubernatorial majority ahead of 2010, when 36 states elect governors.
• Ballot measures: There are 153 measures on ballots in 36 states, including divisive proposals to ban abortion in South Dakota, outlaw affirmative action in Colorado and Nebraska, and ban same-sex marriage in three states, including California -- where thousands of gays and lesbians have wed since a court ruling in May.