Tonight you might be wondering what to look for to know if your candidate is going to win tonight. I’m going to make it easy. This is more about the math and prediction of the election, not the merits.
What this election boils down to is turnout. If Obama is able to mobilize his base, he wins.
Look at the battleground states. There are seven states considered toss ups today. Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado, and Virginia. North Virginia has moved to a safe Romney state despite the intense Obama team effort there are the ground. Not including these states leaves Obama with 243 safe electoral votes and Romney with 206 safe electoral votes. A candidate needs 270 to win, which means Obama only needs 27 electoral votes. There are a few states which I can safely say are for Obama. Wisconsin, New Hampshire, and Iowa are likely safe Obama wins. Colorado is a little more toss up, but it too is likely to go for Obama. All of these states put Obama at 272, or at victory. This makes Obama’s electoral path much easier. These states are likely to be called tonight, and if they do go for Obama, the election will be decided tonight regardless of the heavier electoral states. But that still leaves us with the major battlegrounds of Ohio, Florida, and Virginia. They are going to be the closest races to watch, and among the earliest to have their polls closed. Romney MUST win Florida, Ohio, and Virginia in order to win the presidency, but on top of those necessary wins Romney must pick up one additional state out of Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Iowa and Colorado. His most likely surprise win is Colorado, but even that has become somewhat stretched. Obama also has a fairly commanding lead in most of the polls in Ohio, a state that Romney has had a lot of bad publicity in due to his comments on jeep production. The single fastest way this election is over is if Ohio is called within a comfortable margin for Obama. With a single win from Ohio, Florida, or Virginia, a win for Obama is inevitable.
If you are wondering what the Senate and the House is going to look like for the next couple years, I will refer you to http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/. Nate silver is a calculus goo-roo that completely nailed the 2008 election. He will not only show you the numbers to back up what I have said above, but he also has his projections for the House and Senate. The house will be maintained by the Republicans with some picked with a few seats picked up by Democrats. The Republicans were heavy favorites to maintain the Senate, but after several recent blunders, the Democrats are now more than likely to maintain the Senate.
There is a chance that the election will not be called tonight. Because of new election rules, voting in Ohio and Florida is chaotic. The number of provisional ballots is going to increase dramatically from 2008. These votes are not counted until days after the election, so if the gap between Obama and Romney is within the margin of the number of the provisional ballots, these states not might be called. If the lines extend long into the night, the polls cannot close until every person in line has voted.
This election will be close, but the electoral math and the polls at the moment are favoring Obama. Despite the closeness of the race in some areas of the country, it is quite possible this election will be called before the early hours of the morning.