What Everyone Else Says to Watch Out for in Tonight’s Polling

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"Vote Obama … or else." Photo: Getty Images

Our Super-duper, Ultrasimple Election-Watching Guide tells you just about everything you need to know going into the grand spectacle tonight, but this race has so transfixed Americans that we thought you might want to see what the other bloggers will be looking out for (early results, shady exit polls, turnout) tonight — even if most pundits, polls, and other living things are predicting an Obama victory.

• Mark Halperin says to pay close attention at 7:30, when polls close in Virginia, Indiana, and Ohio. If Obama takes one of them, “McCain's chances go from slim to next-to-none,” and if Obama wins more than one, we could be in for “a Democratic rout.” [Time]

• Nate Silver predicts that if Indiana is called before 7 p.m. for McCain, before the polls close in the northwestern part of the state, "that probably means we're in for a long night." But if it's "called for Obama in the first hour after the polls close, that could indicate … that McCain is in for a catastrophically poor evening." Still, Virginia "is the most important state in this election." [Newsweek]

• Kristin Jensen writes that an Obama win in Virginia, where polls close at 7 p.m., "may signal a tidal wave of states turning Democratic after backing Republican President George W. Bush in 2004." [Bloomberg]

• Stephen Dinan and Ralph Z. Hallow call Pennsylvania the bellwether this year; if McCain ekes out a victory there, he could "pull off one of the greatest comebacks in political history and be on his way to the White House." [Washington Times]

• John Dickerson says that if by the time polls close in Pennsylvania McCain has already lost Florida, Ohio, or Virginia, "then Pennsylvania is a must-win." [Slate]

• Steve Kornacki lays out how McCain can stay in the race after the "first wave of poll closings": win early in Indiana, Georgia, and Missouri; "lead in the early totals from Virginia, North Carolina and Florida; and force too-close-to-call races in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire (but especially Pennsylvania)." [NYO]

• Sean Quinn believes that the "one shocker" on election night might be Georgia, where 1,994,990 have already voted. [FiveThirtyEight]

• Andrew Sullivan considers placing a bet on Georgia, where the odds against Obama winning are "are longer than they should be." [Atlantic]

• Vaughn Ververs warns of early exit-poll data you might read on the Internet, as "[q]uarantine procedures virtually guarantee that real data does not get out until much later in the day and, even then, anything you see could easily be early and incomplete." [CBS News]

• Steve Thomma suggests that "[i]f you stumble across [an exit poll] on the radio or the web, run away." That's because those "leaked versions often are from early samples," but it "takes several samples to get the polls right." [McClatchy]

• Jill Lawrence notes that Missouri, which has "backed every presidential winner since 1904" with one exception, could tarnish its image as a bellwether state tonight by not going Obama's way. [USAT]

• John Nichols says to focus in on "CNN's Bill Schneider and NBC's Chuck Todd, both of whom will be in possession of the best exit-polling data." The tone they set could reveal how well Obama or McCain are doing. [Beat/Nation]

• Katherine Q. Seelye warns not to "read too much into it" if a network doesn't call a state, because it could just mean "there was something wrong with the exit polls." [NYT]

• Jacques Steinberg reports that CBS could potentially "share its preliminary projection" of an Obama win as early as 8 p.m. [NYT]

Related: Our Super-duper, Ultrasimple Election-Watching Guide

For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.