States to Watch on Election Night

I did a quick segment on KTHV’s “THV This Morning” on states to watch on Tuesday night. This was a broad overview, of course. But it sets the scene relatively well as to what will be the focus of news coverage for the first couple of hours after polls close. I’ll post a link to video soon, but after the jump, you can read the script I wrote for the segment.

But for a more in-depth look at the states in play, how much they’re worth and which way they’re leaning, check out Blake Rutherford’s final edition of this regular Electoral Update over at Blake’s Think Tank.

Interesting to note a change since I prepared for my THV segment on Sunday. Since then, Pennsylvania, which I noted leans Obama, has tightened, according to Rutherford. McCain has managed to make it a race there:

  • The biggest news of the day is the tightening numbers in Pennsylvania.  Previously, I argued that McCain stood a better chance of picking off Minnesota.  A new poll shows Obama leading by only 3 points there.  McCain’s road to 270 is still very difficult.  Not only does it have to run through an Obama state (PA and MN seem like the only likely options at this point), but he has to hold almost all of the toss-ups.
  • Obama’s road to 270 is still fairly wide open.  If PA, VA, FL, NC or OH break for him it’s likely to be a very early night tomorrow.

Beyond that, nothing much has changed. The race looks pretty solid for Obama.

All this conjecture, of course, is predicated on dozens of polls in every state. If you check Matt Drudge each day, there’s question that the polls are accurate. But can that many polls be so wrong? There’s only one way to know for sure.

After the jump, my morning segment on States to Watch.

Q: What are the top states we’ll be watching on Tuesday night?

A: Well, there are several. And the Obama campaign is in good shape heading into Tuesday because it’s got all the usual Democratic states locked down while making inroads into places Republicans have traditionally defended very well.

But basically, it looks like this: If Obama is seen winning Florida, Virginia, Ohio or North Carolina, pollsters believe he’s on his way to a win.

Q: And when can we see these states coming into focus?

A: The polls close in these states anywhere from 6 to 7:30 p.m. our time. So it’s very possible that by 8 o’clock or so we could have a good picture of how things are shaping up. You’ll also have other key states coming into focus — states that are leaning heavily right now to one candidate or the other.

Pennsylvania is a good example of that. Obama lost there in the primaries to Hillary Clinton — McCain is trying hard to make a stand there, but polls lean toward Obama. We should know how that state is going relatively early in the evening.

Q: Arkansas of course is still solidly behind McCain.

A: Right. Most recent polling over the weekend shows that McCain ahead here by 7 points. Now, we should note that poll has tightened recently. McCain has a stronger, double-digit lead. But there’s really no doubt that McCain still carries Arkansas, and those 6 electoral votes go into his column. Our polls of course close at 7:30 local time.

Q: Any other states that we’ll need to watch?

A: There will be lots of surprises, I’m sure. Missouri has a great fight going on. It’s been a red state, but Obama is working hard to win that one as well — the AP has those 11 votes as a toss-up. Colorado is also close, leaning Obama. Bush won that state in 2004. And Arizona — John McCain’s home state — still leans McCain, but it’s not the lock that the campaign really hoped it should be. Several polls have that race within the margin of error — about 4 points.

(Video coming soon.)


Be sure to watch Jeff Hankins and I Tuesday night, as joins with Today’s THV for live coverage of the presidential race.


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