Monday, November 3, 2008

An Election Night Scenario Analysis

I've seen this done on a couple of other sites, but let's assume, just for the heck of it, that FHQ is right and Obama wins the presidency by a 338-200 count in the electoral college. Well, how would Tuesday night play out if each of the 50 states plus DC broke the way our map shows? If you use the poll closing times that The Green Papers has posted, then the evening would likely progress something like below.

[Why post one map with all the different times when you can post 10 of them?]

First let's make a few basic assumptions:
1) All strong states are able to be called as soon as the polls close in those states.
2) All lean states have an hour lag before they are called.
3) All toss up states with an FHQ average over 2 points have a three hour lag before they are called.
4) All toss up states with an FHQ average under two points have a four hour lag before they are called.

One hour before the first polls close, we'll start with a blank slate.
[Click Map to Enlarge]

Indiana and Kentucky start the night off with 6pm closings in the Eastern time zone areas of their states. I won't do this for any of the other states, but I'm going to assume that the networks will want something to talk about early. Even without all the polls in Kentucky closed, they'll call the Bluegrass state for McCain. Indiana? Well, it'll be a bit longer.
[Click Map to Enlarge]

Though Georgia may make it into the lean area after this final day, it is still a strong state here. As such Georgia and South Carolina join Kentucky as early states going for McCain. Add Vermont to Obama's tally at 7pm and put Virginia into the wait and see category. Like Indiana an hour earlier, Florida has a first wave of closings in the Eastern time zone. The count at 7pm: 31-3, McCain.
[Click Map to Enlarge]

At 7:30pm Ohio and West Virginia close their polls. If 2004 and the primaries earlier this year are any indication, then there will likely be an extension of the polling hours in the Buckeye state. However, both of these states are outside of the strong category and will have a wait before being called for either candidate.
[Click Map to Enlarge]

If 7pm brought a mini-wave of closings, 8pm brings the first big wave of the evening. Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia (after the hour lag) move into the Obama column, opening up a small lead for the Illinois senator. McCain adds a couple of states from the Deep South and Oklahoma. Missouri, meanwhile is placed in the wait and see category for the time being.
[Click Map to Enlarge]

Thirty minutes later, Arkansas moves into the red for McCain and North Carolina holds off until later.
[Click Map to Enlarge]

At 9pm, New York and Texas cancel each other out, but Obama adds Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Wisconsin while McCain gets Arizona, Louisiana and a handful of mountain west and prairie states. Colorado's polls close, too, but a call will wait for an hour. Obama's tally approaches 200 and McCain breaks 100 electoral votes.
[Click Map to Enlarge]

At 10pm Obama adds Colorado and Iowa as McCain grabs Kansas. Polls close in Montana and Nevada as well, but both will have to wait for a call as a lean state and toss up state respectively.
[Click Map to Enlarge]

Already at 209, Obama adds the west coast states at 11pm but Florida and Ohio also break for the Illinois senator. That big rush of electora votes puts Obama over the top and he becomes the 44th president.
[Click Map to Enlarge]

At midnight, Alaska's polls close and brings the day to a close with only a few polling sites still open in the Last Frontier and Nevada and North Carolina outstanding. Both go for McCain in the wee hours of November 5.
[Click Map to Enlarge]

Recent Posts:
The Electoral College Map (11/3/08)

FHQ vs. The Talking Heads

The Electoral College Map (11/2/08)


Unknown said...

Fun to look at.

Another factor that affects how long it takes to call a state is how geographically diverse it is. Networks are never quite sure what to do when rural areas and small towns report first and give the Republican a lead, and then you sit around waiting for the overwhelmingly Democratic tally from a big city.

I suspect that Georgia, for example, will take a little bit to call if Atlanta is slow. Pennsylvania may also take a little while waiting for Philly. Finally, Missouri is the ultimate in this category, since it's also a toss-up. Remember Super Tuesday?

Anonymous said...

Georgia is all electronic and unless it is close shouldn't take too long.
Obama-Clinton = short
Huckabee-McCain-Romney = long

File that away under "Famous last words."

In a case like Missouri, that is spot on though.

I'll likely tweak this some in an alternate version tomorrow. The methodology will be the same, but from a slightly different angle.

Jack said...

Just want to let you know (and this probably belongs on that earlier post) that Karl Rove is predicting the same map as FHQ.

As you're agreeing with Karl Rove, I am sorry to say that I will now be boycotting FHQ.

Oh, and I wonder how the Republicans will spin McCain's early 31-3 lead.

Anonymous said...

NV Obama 7.25
CO Obama 5.75
VA Obama 4.50
OH Obama 3.25
FL Obama 2.00
MO McCain 0.25
NC McCain 1.25