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Election 2012: live blog!

10:15pm Ohio and Iowa called for Obama. Re-elected President of the United States!

10:00pm North Carolina has been called for Romney. The fact that it took so long is a problem for him. Most of the outstanding vote in FL now is in Democratic counties. VA has about 500,000 Democratic votes outstanding near DC. And it becomes a margins game where we see if the Obama lead is too big for Romney to comeback in OH. It is a situation where we are close to Romney needing to run the table now.

9:00pm Ohio update...Romney is outperforming McCain in rural counties. But Obama is outperforming 2008 in blue counties. No high rural turnout.

8:51pm New Hampshire called for Obama. 64 scenarios remain. Obama wins 55 of them. (86%) 19 EV needed to win.

8:30pm Wisconsin called for Obama. 128 scenarios remain. Obama wins 106 of them. 83% 23 EV needed for the President to win.

7:00pm Just in the 8 major swing states there are 256 scenarios to begin. 193 of those are Obama wins. (75%) Mean Obama EV: 284.5

6:00pm Checking in for the night! Results starting to come in...I'm largely not going to be talking about the obvious ones. Note for my purposes that I'm focusing mostly on the contested states...other than right now with Vermont going to Obama and Indiana (a blue state from 2008) going to Romney, etc., you won't hear me mention the "solid" states much.

3:30pm Exit polls should be released in about 30 minutes. My advice is take whatever they have to say with a grain of salt. They really need to be viewed in context of the actual results...which will be known soon enough. Long lines in Ohio and Virginia are good signs for Democrats. A few problems reported around the nation, most famously the video of the machine in PA that would highlight Mitt Romney every time you pressed the Obama button. That machine was fixed and returned to service after the problem was reported. If you are in line when the polls close you will be allowed to vote. If you're in Chicago, there is even a phone app giving you a free taxi ride under $20 value to get to and from the polls. All quiet...for now. I'll probably start checking in more regularly after the first couple rounds of closings. VA is the most notable in the 6pm CST window. Ohio is 6:30pm CST. We'll see if North Carolina is close, too. Don't forget to take a look at my Election Night Guide to the right and refresh this page often once things get rolling.

ELECTION DAY! 9am Happy Election Day! Checking in this morning...hope you're reading this while standing in line at your polling location. Not a lot going on right now, but I'll post any tidbits or news items throughout the day. The Exit Poll data is released at 5pm EST, polls start closing at 7pm, and I've got fresh roasted coffee ready for possibly a long night.

Once things really get rolling, I'll have EV tallies as the states come in that feature probability many winning combinations are left as well as likely paths. Longer comments will be here. Shorter items will be on Twitter.

Nov 5, 1:30pm Poll closing times by state...hours are Eastern Time. Most news orgs will NOT call states until all polls in the state are closed.
  • 7:00 pm : Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia
  • 7:30 pm : North Carolina, Ohio, West Virginia
  • 8:00 pm : Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee
  • 8:30 pm : Arkansas
  • 9:00pm : Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin, Wyoming
  • 10:00pm : Iowa, Montana, Nevada, Utah
  • 11:00 pm : California, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon, Washington
  • 1:00am : Alaska
Nov 5, noon Democracy is awesome. There are 12 popular referenda on state ballots this have to go back to 1914-20 for that many. 42 citizen initiatives. 115 referred by state legislatures. A total of 174 altogether covering: education funding, drug policy, marriage, health care, animal rights, bonds, election reform, abortion, and casinos.

Nov 5, 7:30am Pretty much all that's left before tomorrow's big day is to put my final guess in. The state polls over the weekend continued to look strong for the President and the national polls finally helped solve that "split" we've been talking about by breaking towards Obama. I ran an average this morning of 6 different Electoral College estimates and that number is 307. Give or take FL, VA, CO. Those are the states giving me fits. It's tempting to just call them "too close to call" and leave them yellow or unshaded or whatever system you're using. The polls seem to be leaning towards Obama in VA, but I'm a bit more cautious. For a variety of reasons including state history, demographics, etc. I'm thinking of giving VA to Romney. CO seems to be a bit stronger for the President. And then there's the mess in FL. Already. Razor thin advantage to Obama? Lean Romney? Your guess is as good as anybody. I'm going 303-235 in my final guess. Though I actually have large doubts because 290 or 332 could be just as likely.

Nov 2, 11:00am A few tidbits today that help guide us...estimates are that Obama may be losing roughly 340,000 votes in storm-damaged areas of the Northeast. "247,000 out of New York, 60,000 out of New Jersey, 29,000 out of Connecticut, and 3,600 out of Rhode Island." Not enough to alter state outcomes, but enough to possibly alter the Popular Vote total? Status quo: we've had 3 straight "change" elections in 2006, 2008, 2010. This one is looking like everything will stay the same--Dems in the White House/Senate and Republicans in the House. Which is ironic considering everybody thinks the country is headed down the wrong path and confidence in the govt is at low. Who will have the better turnout prediction? NBC/WSJ is predicting MORE votes will be cast than 2008, but the percent of the voting age who turns out will be down. Simple demographics (there are more people in the population). 2004 hybrid? Some are saying don't look to 2008 and instead look at 2004 to compare this election. I've been swayed by this argument a bit. ie What if the Dems had been in the White House in 2004 and seen a bump in minority voting? BTW, Obama is underperforming versus McCain but would be beating Kerry's numbers. (Compare Romney to Bush's numbers then.)

Nov 1, noon Interesting little graphic from HuffPost's Simon Jackman about how confident we are of both the current Obama lead in key states and how that does (or does not) translate into win probability. Keep in mind polls are just snapshots of a moving target.

Oct 31, 2:00pm Stuff like this is what I meant below about FL. The polling leans Romney, right? Well, then why is a GOP memo saying the Democratic Early Voting turnout is "cleaning our clock?" Some forecasts have Obama winning. Nate Silver currently has VA as more likely Obama by a slightly larger percentage than FL leans Romney. Florida GOP memo: Democrats are 'cleaning our clock' (The counts, in case you don't want to read, are 60-22% much closer to 2008 numbers than 2010 numbers.)

Oct 31, 1:23pm Game time! As the polls close and the evening goes on I think I will try to update the list of which states are Blue and which ones are Red. Thus, who needs what combination still. Plus, we'll discuss any news and issues that seems relevant to reading the tea leaves tonight. I'll also start you off with a few points of election specifics...

1) Which way New Hampshire goes. Depending on how the rest of the nation follows, it could be important insurance, irrelevant, or possibly decide the election. It's a fairly small, easy state to get results from, too.

2) In Virginia, pay attention to the northern part of the state. In Florida, pay attention to the Miami area. Obama winning either of those states would come from those two regions.

3) In Ohio, pay attention to Cuyahoga, Franklin, and Hamilton counties. Those were Obama's 3 largest vote-producers in 2008. Respectively, that is the heavily Democratic Cleveland area, a coalition of liberal voters in the Columbus area (my home turf), and the African American vote near Cincinnati...traditionally a very white Republican area.

4) Blending the numbers. Certain states will be called early. Some are tougher. A reliably blue state like IL will likely get moved into the Obama column immediately upon the polls closing. The truly down-to-the-wire states are going to involve a combination of blending Early Voting data with numbers from the day. Plus, those pesky provisional ballots. A person can use one of those for a variety of reasons...a challenge to their eligibility, they're in the wrong polling place, they changed their address but never updated their registration, etc.. If, how, and when those are needed will play a key role. In many states, they aren't even counted for days and many are thrown out.

5) Is there a trend?  Was PA really close? Was it a blowout? Did someone call what should have been a swing state very quickly so that it wasn't all that tight? It could be the difference between a 269 tie and a 350 vote landslide.

6) I haven't made a final map yet, but FL and NC are currently my tough calls. Both those states lean Romney on paper. But the average EV forecast is inching closer to 300 at the time of this writing. A lot depends on Item 7. But the tossup states of VA and CO seem to be tilting Obama now.

7) The current estimates of how likely an Obama win is on Tuesday are between 75-97%. You'll hear the buzzwords "systemic polling error" thrown around a lot. Because the real fight we've been having is about two things:
  • Turnout/demographics models
  • Polling bias
And the two are related. IF the polls are correct is the big if. The Republican challenge has always been that the polls over-estimate Obama for a variety of reasons. House bias. Racial bias of including too many minorities. Thinking the turnout will be too high and that 2008 was a fluke. Or did 2008 simply reflect a changing electorate? That's the heart of the "unskew" debate is that the steady 2 point or more advantage of Obama in, say, Ohio is due to most of the polls being bad. Collectively, it looks like we have one result when really, they say, we're going to find out Election Night that Romney was being undervalued.

So there you go...that's my setup for the evening. Sit back and try to enjoy the ride as we celebrate our crazy democracy in action. I'll be running my models and spreadsheets behind the scenes to update the scenarios of the chess game. Keep checking back to see where things stand. No matter how you slice it, however, Romney is going to have to start winning states if he wants to win...his path is much narrower to 270 given the game board.