The great DVR of American politics, after going on fast-forward for nearly two years, has finally caught up with real time. There's no buffer time, there's nothing else to watch — all that’s left to do is watch the returns come in. We know that's scary, so we'll be here with you, live-blogging, until this whole thing gets shut down. We'll be providing commentary from our magazine writers and updates from parties and events around the city. You're welcome to take part, too! Send us e-mails at firstname.lastname@example.org, or put your thoughts in the comments. Here we go! We're gonna get through this together, we swear.
6:02 p.m.: Republican attack ads against Reverend Wright are still running on cable news networks. Wow. Guess they're pitching for the angry-commuter vote.
6:14 p.m.: RNC robocalls in Florida are rolling out, touting Fidel Castro's endorsement of Obama.
6:22 p.m.: Kentucky and Indiana have started reporting as polls there have closed. Kentucky is going roughly one-third Obama, two-thirds McCain. Indiana keeps us in suspense. Hook-toed bitch.
6:52 p.m.: Fox News is reporting results in other states before the polls close, obviously.
6:56 p.m.: MSNBC quotes a "Republican strategist" who says tonight we're going to see an "Obama tsunami." Man, that network and that word!
6:28 p.m.: Okay, early Indiana numbers favor Obama slightly. Wolf Blitzer keeps reminding us this is meaningless. Judging by how early our urge came to grab onto his beard and yank, swiftly, we probably drank too much caffeine today. Does anybody else feel frantic for no reason? Or is it just people with live blogs? (Seriously, did he overshave today or what?)
6:45 p.m.: According to a CNN exit poll, 72 percent of new voters are for Obama. That number includes students, empowered African-Americans, and at least 279 Mickey Mouses.
6:48 p.m.: This lull has us wondering, who are all those B-level pundits on CNN with the laptops in the background? How do you get to be a varsity laptopper?
7 p.m.: Polls open in Georgia, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, the rest of Indiana and Kentucky, and portions of Florida and New Hampshire. Everybody is very calm. Brit Hume's hair is like a helmet. Seriously, it's like he uses Laura Bush's hairdresser.
7:01 p.m.: Fox News calls Vermont for Obama and Kentucky for McCain.
7:05 p.m.: The giant splintered USA visual in NBC's Virtual Reality Election Map Studio hurts like a hangover. Even having Chuck Todd bounce around at the foot of it doesn't make it any easier on the eyes. They should have him skate around on the rink in Rockefeller Center, where there's also an electoral map. We would really love that. Surely Chucky could muster a triple axel or two? He's got the goatee for it!
7:09 p.m.: Oh God, Ann Curry is in a room that is entirely green screen.
7:10 p.m.: Turn on PBS for a palate cleanser. We catch Jim Lehrer talking to a correspondent: "So what's the weather like there, Judy?"
7:10 p.m.: Rachel Maddow is looking particularly snazzy. Her hair is styled a lot like Keith Olbermann's. Is that weird?
7:11 p.m.: A tipster texts from a party: "At Le Poisson Rouge's Election Night Extravaganza, Arcade Fire is playing loudly, the crowd is booing McCain and cheering Obama, and the best of the cheesy political drink names is a Joe Six-Pack of Rolling Rocks." Ooh, Arcade Fire! That's what would chill us out: haunting tones.
7:16 p.m.: OH MY GOD. THEY HAVE BEAMED JESSICA YELLIN INTO THE CNN STUDIO AS A HOLOGRAM.
7:18 p.m. Yellin: "It's like I followed the tradition of Princess Leia." Even Wolf can't seem to find the words to explain why this was necessary.
7:24 p.m.: Overheard on Bergen Street in Cobble Hill: a father speaking to his daughter on the walk home. Dad: "Well, McCain is going to change things, too." Daughter: "But McCain is gonna change things the wrong way!" Sounds like mommy has better propaganda, Pop.
7:27 p.m.: From a tipster at the Young Republican party on 51st Street: "Some of these people are definitely over 40. That's supposed to be the cutoff."
7:30 p.m.: Ohio, North Carolina, and West Virginia polls have closed. That's 40 electoral votes, with a total of 98 in the air so far.
7:31 p.m.: Fox News gives West Virginia to McCain. No surprise, but the others are up in the air.
7:32 p.m.: It's not even 8 p.m. and John King is practically molesting CNN's touch screen (er, perceptive pixel). The night is young, John — don't get spent on Indiana alone.
7:35 p.m.: Sometimes when Chris Matthews is talking and the camera pans to Rachel Maddow, she is caught with an expression on her face that we can only describe as "Wanda Sykes watching a pigeon eat a chicken wing."
7:38 p.m.: Does anyone else think that Lester Holt is never so sexy as when he wears those glasses?
7:40 p.m. Isn't it kind of weird that CNN doesn't let the election coverage fall under the "Situation Room" banner? Because if ever there were a situation, it's tonight.
7:43 p.m.: Update from our political contributor Peter Keating, who says Obama supporters are receiving positive news:
We’re starting to get some indications about key states from people who know what they’re talking about but can’t actually call races before the polls close: In Virginia, MSNBC exit polls put McCain ahead, 58 percent to 41 percent among white voters and Obama ahead, 91 percent to 9 percent among blacks. If 20 percent of Virginia voters are African-American, as expected, Obama would be winning overall, 51 percent to 48.2 percent. In Pennsylvania, Governor Ed Rendell says Obama is rolling up huge tallies not only in Philadelphia but in its suburbs. Rendell thinks Obama could net a margin of 600,000 to 650,000 votes overall from greater Philly, which would be virtually impossible for McCain to make up elsewhere. And the early-reporting counties in Indiana, which trend Republican overall, are still pretty evenly split, setting up that state to get swamped by Democratic votes from Gary later tonight.
7:45 p.m.: From a tipster at the party at Gavin Browns Enterprise: "Officially run out of chili a half hour in, which is bad news for red-state stomachs. But there's plenty of Yuengling being served in honor of PA!"
7:46 p.m.: CNN calls South Carolina for
7:53 p.m.: Luke Russert appears on NBC, reporting from some loud and scream-y campus — he says he feels a lot like Tom Brokaw at the Berlin Wall. Let's not get ahead of ourselves, kid.
8 p.m: Polls close in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. From that, MSNBC calls Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, Delaware, for Obama. Tennessee and Oklahoma went to McCain. The Arizona senator now has 34 electoral votes and Obama has 103. And in the big news of the hour, NBC News calls Pennsylvania, where McCain had been campaigning endlessly this week, for Obama. Chris Matthews says, "The McCain campaign's electoral strategy has crashed."
8:05 p.m. From a tipster at the Obama party at New World Stages: "Overheard waiting in the coat-check line. Two girls discussing that there are no boldface names here or Democratic politicians. A blonde Obama supporter turned around and snapped, 'What? We're all superstars here!'"
8:06 p.m.: From a tipster at the French TV5 Monde party at the Pennsylvania hotel: "It's an early contender for best spread: Mumm champagne, a dozen or so cheeses, pâté, and chef making fresh dessert crêpes. French expat Laura Jaoui compared Palin to Sarkozy opponent Segolene Royal, who is also beautiful and gaffe-prone: 'She's crazy, but in a different way. We take her more seriously.'"
8:07 p.m.: With all of MSNBC's early-early projections, Obama's well over 270. You can practically see Chris Matthews shivering.
8:10 p.m.: From a hipster tipster: "Outside Galapagos in Williamsburg, the line of twenty people waiting to go inside inexplicably erupts in cheering."
8:13 p.m.: CNBC just flashed to the setup for the McCain campaign party at the Biltmore in Phoenix, Arizona. Apparently later on, "Native American hoop dancers" will perform. They panned away from the scene as the musicians began playing "Nowhere Man." "That was an odd choice," said Mark Haines.
8:14 p.m.: From a newsy tipster: "At the CNN Grille in Time Warner Center, Eddie Izzard is munching on fries while Christiane Amanpour, looking lovely in purple, watches with rapt attention. Free burgers and fries!"
8:15 p.m.: Chris Matthews compared Howard Dean to "St. John the Baptist." No, really. Even Dean looked confused.
8:17 p.m.: "There are a ton of people watching it all live in Rock Center. They are screaming for Obama victories and booing McCain. It's a big party down there. For those still at work in the building, it's worse than the daily Today Show concerts."
8:18 p.m.: Overheard at the Young Republicans fête: "Why is there so much press here? There's more press than Republicans." And old people, according to a tip earlier. Sounds like a kickass party. Bet Lily van der Woodsen is there.
8:18 p.m.: In a remarkable show of maturity, Fox News seems to be the first to call the North Carolina senate race for Kay Hagan.
8:19 p.m. Anderson Cooper's hair is so iridescent you can actually see through it. It's like ghost hair. Holy hair? Whatever, we want to give ourselves a full-body loofah with his head.
8:21 p.m.: Update from our party princess, Jada Yuan, who is at the CNN Grille:
U.K. citizen Eddie Izzard didn't vote today. (Greencard). But he's still sitting at the CNN Grille, fretting about and swooning over election results. "I donated money. I wanted him to get in," he said. "And I pay taxes here, so I feel very invested." Izzard's not going to be a beneficiary of Obama's tax cuts for the middle class, but he doesn't care. "I'm happy to pay tax," he said. "I like putting back in and I work my ass off." Izzard pays taxes in every country where he performs … the U.S., the U.K., France, Australia, and Iceland. "That one I'm very proud of. They can use it."
Yeah, particularly Iceland, eh? Björk is currently carrying the entire economy over there.
8:25 p.m. From a tipster over at Obama's HQ in Chicago: "Everyone's in a good mood, there's a good vibe here. Also, someone just randomly shouted, 'Pennsylvania made John McCain look like an asshole!'"
8:28 p.m.: PBS gives up, airs Nova.
8:30 p.m.: Okay, we just got choked up watching a Pillsbury commercial where people click their heels like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, wanting to go home and eat crescent rolls. We are officially way too wired. And unforgivably gay.
8:33 p.m.: Speaking of which, might we say that Katie Couric's accessories are very Cindy McCain? Understated but expensive-looking. And her lashes are KAPOW. They're like sexy eye-shrapnel!
8:35 p.m.: An update from our man at Obama HQ in Chicago: "All anyone wants to talk about are the CNN holograms." Obviously a Yellin plant.
8:47 p.m.: From our hipster tipster again: "At Galapagos, the Obama 'yes we can-can' dancers have the letters of his name spelled out on their asses." Oh, bless. We're living history, people. Liv. Ing. It.
8:40 p.m.: CBS calls Alabama for McCain. That brings his electoral count up to about 54, a little more than half of Obama's.
8:47 p.m.: Oooh, now we get why election coverage isn't part of CNN's Situation Room. It's now taking place not in the Situation Room, but the BALANCE OF POWER STUDIO. Mind. Blown.
8:53 p.m.: So: That New York proposal about disability payments — did you guys see it? We noticed it just as we were about to pull the lever and walk out all teary-eyed, but the way it was hidden on the bottom, right? Who's looking down there?! Four out of five people we've talked to didn't even know it was on the ballot.
8:56 p.m.: Bill Kristol's body language is speaking volumes. No conservative cruises next year, huh?
9 p.m.: Polls close in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the rest of Michigan.
9:02 p.m.: The party is just getting started at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Tower, the site of the state Democratic Party's election celebration, but the Roosevelt comparisons are already flying! A tipster writes: "Governor David Paterson said Obama, when talking about the financial downturn, 'speaks with the clarity of the call of a Roosevelt.'"
9:06 p.m.: Party-hopping Jada Yuan reports: "Even though Time magazine is in the Time Warner building, the only staffer who's shown up at the CNN Grill Room is editor Rick Stengel, who was on CNN for a moment, dropped in for a drink, and then left. The magazine is closing tonight, so everything has to be done by 9 a.m. to be on newsstands for Thursday, a day early. A source tells us TVs are on in every room, ribs have been ordered, and there's talk of spending the night. There are three covers at the ready, one for Obama, one for McCain, and one if it's up in the air." Oh, please don't let it be the third cover. Our hearts can't take it.
9:07 p.m. Fox called New York, Michigan, and Wisconsin for Obama, then accidentally put up a check mark showing Ohio for Obama. Shep Smith took it right back.
9:08 Everyone in the CNN Election Center just had a love-in about what will happen if Obama wins the election. Really, Jeffrey Toobin practically misted and you could tell David Gergen wanted to try out a few bars of "Kumbayah" but wasn't sure if it was appropriate yet. You could see his lower lip wobbling a little.
9:10 p.m.: On MSNBC, Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm says that Michigan is going to "pull out" for Obama. We snicker, because we are children.
9:15 p.m.: Our tipster at Poisson Rouge writes: "Here's a sign that we're all ready to say good-bye to Sarah Palin: No one is laughing at any Palin jokes."
9:19 p.m.: And … Fox calls Ohio for Obama. "No Republican has won the president of the United States without winning Ohio," says Shep. Giuliani comes on; he's already speaking of McCain in the past tense: “Nobody could have done better.”
9:25 p.m.: CNN is promising a BIG PROJECTION when they get back from the commercial.
9:27 p.m.: Why is Chuck Todd bringing up bad memories and saying this is going to be 2000- or 2004-level close? Because he wants us to keep the television on? We love Chuck, but this strikes us as kind of dickish.
9:28 p.m.: A large contingent of skinny white men with fancy rectangular-rimmed glasses and funny accents have just shown up at the Democrats' Sheraton bash, writes a tipster. Who are they? "Danes," replied one of them, a man named Jens Christiansen. They're Danish parliamentarians and other politicians from the Social Democratic Party visiting America to study Obama's campaign. Obama, said Jens, has run a "fantastic campaign from a professional perspective."
9:30 p.m.: "Mary-Kate Olsen is at the Gavin Brown party. She seems to be excited!"
9:35 p.m.: CNN's big surprise was Ohio. "A huge, huge win," says Wolf.
9:36 p.m.: Whoa. We just caught a glimpse of the scene in Times Square, which is kind of epic/insane. Does Ryan Seacrest know about this?
9:38 p.m.: Wolf goes to Dana Bash in Arizona, who says that for the McCain campaign, "Reality is definitely setting in." Except not really — because, she adds, as soon as they found out about Ohio they turned off the news at the Biltmore, where McCain supporters have gathered to celebrate. "They know what's going on, they all have their BlackBerrys … They are making a point of not putting the bad news on the screen," she said. That's, um, weird, in an I-sleep-with-my-dead-husband's-skeleton kind of way. Dana's hubby John King, checking the map, says that things are looking "grim" for the McCain campaign.
9:47 p.m.: Incidentally, the Huffington Post party is every bit as smug as one might imagine: "Along with copious pizza and a keg dispensing free Brooklyn Lager, there's no shortage of snark at the 23/6 party in the Website's Soho offices," says a tipster. "When CT is called for Obama, an onlooker said: 'Wasn't that decided yesterday?' Surrounded by his own kin, a Prospect Heights magazine editor was unimpressed: 'This is unpleasant.'"
9:48 p.m.: Would it be okay to watch the special live The Daily Show at 10 p.m., even if they're not tallying electoral votes? Because wouldn't it be great if Jon Stewart called this thing first?
9:52 p.m.: There are a lot of things not going Karl Rove's way tonight, but his pumpkin-orange tie is near the top of the list. Bonus: The cameras catch Fox News handing consolation cookies around the studio.
9:54 p.m.: Did anyone see Anderson Cooper's "breaking for a commercial" face just now? He puckered his lips and squinted like Keira Knightley. He must be trying out a new thing.
9:55 p.m.: Says a tipster: "At the CNN party, everyone is saying that Obama Girl will be at Haven tonight." Note to self(s): Never go to Haven ever.
10 p.m. Polls close in Iowa, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Utah. CNN calls Iowa for Obama; Utah and Kansas for McCain.
10:02 p.m.: At the Sheraton, Hillary's adman Jimmy Siegel summed up Obama's advertising campaign: "Just ordinary ads," he said. "But he didn't need great ads."
10:05 p.m.: Paul Begala: A little bit sexy tonight? Or that it just our election talking? What? We're drinking, by the way.
10:08 p.m.: Wow, America's Funniest Home Videos these days is all senile grandmothers and toddlers doing sexy dancing. Yes we would rather watch James Carville.
10:12 p.m.: Luke Russert needs to work on his Serious Face. A little more "Thinking," a little less "Columbine."
10:15 p.m.: The Rocky Mountain News calls Colorado for Obama.
10:18 p.m.: Overheard at Gavin Brown: "You went to Starbucks for a free coffee? Babes in Toyland was giving out free vibrators. You lose."
10:22 p.m.: Ooh, Dana Bash is back reporting live from the Hotel Denial. John McCain and Sarah Palin are apparently up in the Barry Goldwater Suite at the Biltmore, where they are watching the returns. Bash says she asked people on the McCain campaign if they saw a clear path to victory: "The answer I got was no."
10:23 p.m.: Our tipster at Obama HQ in Chicago writes: "I'm staring directly at Oprah. She looks like a weepy billionaire."
10:25 p.m.: Biggest fuck-you of the night so far: When Keith Olbermann pointed out the obvious but as-yet-unstated fact that with Ohio in Obama’s bag, the West Coast states will put him over 270 electoral votes, Chris Matthews said with an acid smile, “You have a jeweler’s eye.”
10:28 p.m.: Friend of Intel Jodi Call, who is watching ABC, notes that Charlie Gibson seems obsessed with his board. "If there is a lull of any kind, he hopefully suggests that they go to the board and look at things closer." All dudes are going to want these things from now on.
10:29 p.m.: There are a lot of contenders for Worst Line of the Night, but Howard Fineman on MSNBC is going for the gold: "We may be witnessing a sea change," he just said, "but it's happening on a lake."
10:33 p.m.: The numbers are getting clearer in Pennsylvania, and Obama did markedly better than Kerry in 2004.
10:39 p.m.:: Tipster: "Ethan Hawke is at the Comedy Central bash. He says the fat lady is warming up." Thanks, Ethan.
10:42 p.m.:: Nancy Pelosi is speaking in Nevada. Someone crazy lady in the audience keeps yelling, "I LOVE YOU NANCY!" Who?
10:42 p.m.:: Huffington Post calls it for Obama, Drudge calls it for Obama (in his own way), FiveThirtyEight calls it. OBAMA IS TOTALLY THE NEXT PRESIDENT. Meanwhile, Anderson Cooper is talking to Will.I.Am by hologram.
10:43 p.m.:: Anderson, in trying to dismiss the Will.I.Am by hologram, comes up with the Most Amazing Line of the Night: "Will.I.Am, thank you for being with us via hologram." "Check it," the hologram Black-Eyed-Pea says by way of good-bye. But then he doesn't disappear! He continues to toddle around the stage in hologram form. WHY. Anderson looks alarmed.
10:49 p.m.: Pat Buchanan says Obama is looking at eight years. And he said it without sobbing.
10:50 p.m.: In honor of this historic night, the Daily Show's black correspondents are taking over the show.
10:56 p.m.: VIRGINIA!
10:59 p.m.: The networks are being careful, but let's face it, this is over. The Election Center folks are doing misty water-colored memories. Kat Seeley is being tempted by The Office, and HOLY FUCKING SHIT YOU GUYS (sorry, bosses) WE HAVE A NEW, AMAZING, SMART, COOL PRESIDENT! This is going to be awesome.
11 p.m. CNN called it! And Fox! OH MY GAAAWWWWWWD.
11:05 p.m.: At the Sheraton: Jerrold Nadler, the New York City congressman, had this to say about the challenges Obama will face next year: "The mess he is going to inherit is beyond anything that has been understood."
At Galapagos: "The girl in the tutu takes off her shirt."
At Gavin Brown: "Balloons fall from the ceiling and people play in them."
11:26 p.m.: McCain concedes. We wish his speech were better, or more emotional, or that at least the crowd didn't boo and chant in that scary way. But these are details.
Now if you'll excuse us, we're going to throw some confetti around, get wasted, and shag someone who looks like Paul Begala.