Watch­ing Tues­day: It all comes down to math

Malta Independent - - US ELECTION - Nancy Benac

Your par­ents were right: Math re­ally does mat­ter.

Af­ter all the tu­mult and te­dium of a long, ugly pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, Elec­tion Day is all about which can­di­date can win enough states to get 270 elec­toral votes.

From pre-dawn vot­ing in New Hamp­shire to late-night poll closes in Alaska, it’s sure to be a long day.

Some things to watch for along the way on Tues­day as the au­tumn of our cam­paign dis­con­tent hur­tles to a close. All times are US Eastern Stan­dard Time (six hours be­hind Malta).

The time­line

The first burst of re­sults will emerge when polls close at 7pm in Ge­or­gia, In­di­ana, Ken­tucky, South Car­olina, Vermont and Vir­ginia. Look for more big blasts of num­bers just af­ter 8pm and 9pm, when polls close in a com­bined 30 states and the Dis­trict of Columbia. The 11pm batch of states in­cludes big kahuna Cal­i­for­nia, with 55 elec­toral votes. Alaska, where polls close at 1am on Wed­nes­day, brings up the rear.

Nerd out

News or­ga­ni­za­tions will keep a run­ning tally of how Hil­lary Clin­ton and Don­ald Trump are do­ing in their quest for 270 elec­toral votes. But you can al­ways go full nerd and play around with a Road to 270 cal­cu­la­tor to try to get your favoured can­di­date to the magic num­ber. Be­ware: It can take a while for the pic­ture on elec­tion night to clar­ify, sim­ply be­cause of how the vote rolls in across the coun­try. In 2012, Repub­li­can Mitt Rom­ney was still ahead in the elec­toral and pop­u­lar vote at 10:30pm; an hour later, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama was on the brink of re­elec­tion.

The few, the proud, the early

There are a few hardy ex­cep­tions to the es­tab­lished poll-close times. Polls in the tiny New Hamp­shire towns of Dixville, Hart’s Lo­ca­tion and Mills­field will open just af­ter mid­night on Tues­day morn­ing and close as soon as every­one has voted, typ­i­cally right away. Th­ese die-hard vot­ers are proud to have the first word on the big vote.

New York, New York

More than 46 mil­lion peo­ple are ex­pected to vote be­fore Elec­tion Day. Not Clin­ton or Trump. Both are ex­pected to make a show of trekking to their lo­cal polling places on Tues­day, Clin­ton in Chap­paqua, New York, and Trump in New York City. Their run­ning mates – Demo­crat Tim Kaine of Vir­ginia and Repub­li­can Mike Pence of In­di­ana – will vote where they live, and later team up with their prin­ci­pals in New York. Stay tuned to see what other last-ditch moves for votes the can­di­dates make.

Early tea leaves

For an early read on how things are go­ing, keep an eye on Vir­ginia in the pres­i­den­tial con­test. If Clin­ton doesn’t get a win­ner’s call there by 9pm or 10pm, it could be a pos­i­tive sign for Trump. Watch In­di­ana for an early in­di­ca­tor in the tug-of-war for con­trol of the Se­nate; if Evan Bayh can man­age a come­back, that’ll be a good sign for Democrats hop­ing to re­take the Se­nate.

Exit poll ex­pla­na­tions

Data col­lected from polling­place in­ter­views with vot­ers will of­fer a wealth of in­for­ma­tion to help ex­plain who voted for whom, and why peo­ple voted the way they did. Among the ques­tions to be an­swered by the exit polls: Do vot­ers cast bal­lots for their can­di­dates en­thu­si­as­ti­cally or hold­ing their noses? Do blacks give strong back­ing to Clin­ton af­ter re­cent wor­ries about their turnout in early vot­ing? Who wins col­lege-ed­u­cated whites, who typ­i­cally skew Repub­li­can but are be­ing courted by Clin­ton? In a race so of­ten roiled by Trump’s com­ments about women, what does the gen­der gap look like? Did peo­ple care about Clin­ton’s prob­lems with her pri­vate email setup? Were they wor­ried about Trump’s tem­per­a­ment? From whom did third­party can­di­dates siphon votes? There’s so much to ab­sorb, this data will be sliced, diced, mined and pon­dered for months.

Mixed ver­dict

With the Repub­li­can Party in dis­ar­ray, exit polls will help show how many GOP vot­ers choose to split their tick­ets. Check out how many Repub­li­cans re­ject Trump while vot­ing for GOP can­di­dates in Se­nate and House races.

Utah. Re­ally

The red­dest of the red states of­fers some drama this year. Keep an eye on the Utah vote for in­de­pen­dent can­di­date Evan McMullin, who’s ap­par­ently draw­ing sig­nif­i­cant sup­port there and giv­ing Trump heart­burn in a state that should be a lock for him. (Polls close at 10pm).

Se­cond screen

Keep a se­cond screen handy to get the full elec­tion night pic­ture. Four years ago, Obama went to Twit­ter with his first re­ac­tion once the votes clearly pointed to­ward his re-elec­tion. Trump’s tweet­storms are leg­endary. On elec­tion night in 2012, he tweeted that the elec­tion was a “to­tal sham and a trav­esty” and en­cour­aged “a rev­o­lu­tion in this coun­try“. He deleted some of the tweets af­ter NBC’s Brian Wil­liams said Trump had “driven well past the last exit to rel­e­vance and veered into some­thing closer to ir­re­spon­si­ble“. Af­ter that, Trump started tweet­ing rants aimed at Wil­liams.

Mak­ing his­tory

If Clin­ton emerges the vic­tor, it will be a his­toric mo­ment for women as she shat­ters that “high­est, hard­est glass ceil­ing“. A vic­tory speech would be one for the ages.

The big ques­tion

The ques­tion has been dan­gling out there: Will Trump ac­cept the re­sults of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion if he loses? “I’ll keep you in sus­pense,” he said at the last de­bate. The world is wait­ing for his an­swer. Wait, there’s more! The pres­i­den­tial race has sucked up most of the oxy­gen over the past year, but there will be lots more to take in on elec­tion night, with con­trol of the Se­nate and House at stake, 12 states elect­ing governors, and as­sorted bal­lot pro­pos­als around the coun­try. In the House: Repub­li­cans hold a 247-188 ma­jor­ity, in­clud­ing three va­can­cies. Democrats could pick up 10 or more seats, per­haps even more than 20, but don’t ex­pect to take con­trol. In the Se­nate: Repub­li­cans are fu­ri­ously work­ing to pro­tect their 54-46 ma­jor­ity. Con­trol of the Se­nate is likely to come down to just over a half­dozen top races. A dozen gover­nor’s of­fices are also up for grabs, at least seven ap­pear­ing com­pet­i­tive. Among is­sues on bal­lot pro­pos­als: the death penalty, gun con­trol and mar­i­juana le­gal­iza­tion.

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