Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Live Blogging the Election Returns

12:23AM - FINAL THOUGHTS: Sorry I went dark there for a while, just now, as the President- and Vice President-elect were strolling the stage with their extended families; I was... well... I was crying. You'll forgive me, presumably, but either way that's what I was doing. And now I'm going to bed, folks. It's been a long day for me (started before 6:00AM) and I'm totally exhausted. I'll be updating the electoral map first thing in the morning. Thanks for sharing this historic moment with me, everybody.

12:16AM -
Not his best speech, but that's the thing about Barack Obama: He's such an amazing speaker that every time he opens his mouth he raises his own bar. I think, personally, he was just a little bit tired. ...And who could blame him?

12:12AM -
Time to wrap it up, Senator.

12:07AM -
Getting a lot more forward-looking, now, which is important. (And it looks to me like Obama will win North Carolina, Indiana, and Montana as well, which would give him 367 electoral votes, total.)

12:06AM -
Speech leaning a little bit too far in the celebratory direction right now (though I forgive him for wanting to toss a bone to all of his volunteers).

12:03AM -
If Senator Obama and Senator McCain really mean what they say about working together over the next few weeks and months, that much alone could tell the tale of Obama's legacy. (And by the way, Obama is fifteen-thousand votes up in INDIANA.)

12:01AM -
This man's going to be one of the greatest Presidents we've ever had.

12:00AM -
Great opening.

11:58PM -
Can't help but feel a little bit afraid, right now, despite the better angels of my nature. That's an *awful* lot of people, there in Grant Park.

11:56PM -
Obama is leading by 30,000 votes in North Carolina, now, with 96% reporting. That's getting the tarheel state pretty doggone close, folks. (OBAMA IN THIRTY SECONDS!)

11:52PM -
As the big moment draws nearer (when we'll hear from Senator Obama), I decided to scroll through the entire election returns for the House of Representatives, where the Democrats are currently up twelve seats, with about half the races decided. If that number doesn't plump-up considerably before it's over, the Republicans will probably find something in it to build on.

11:44PM -
Both Udall's have now won their (Democratic pickup) Senate races. Meanwhile the Lincoln Diaz-Ballart house race has closed to within two percent, and is now "un-called" on the CNN election center map.

11:39PM -
ABC just called Nevada for Obama, which took longer than it should have--but it's worth the wait. Here's your map:

11:37PM - As we await the President-elect, you might be interested to know that Indiana has swung the other way, now, with Barack Obama about 8,000 votes ahead.

11:29PM -
Fewer than eight thousand votes separate the candidates in Indiana, and fewer than five thousand votes separate the candidates in Montana. All of which confirms my swiftly hardening conviction that the mainstream press is just jaw-droppingly, profoundly lazy. All of this "true to type" coverage is completely missing the story of the night.

11:27PM -
While John natters on like this, you might be interested to know that North Carolina is hanging in the balance, with fewer than five thousand votes separating the two candidates. It's gonna come down to provisional ballots there, me'thinks.

11:25PM -
I was almost feeling a little sorry for John, for a minute there, and then he had to go and say how proud he was of Sarah Palin. Seriously, the content of this speech isn't bad, but the delivery is nothing short of painful, and listening to nothing--almost nothing--coming from the audience, is making it even worse.


11:20PM -
McCain's speech is gracious (if also a little affectless), but the crowd went from being nasty to being eerily, almost preternaturally quiet. I've never heard so little ambient noise from an audience that large, and it's creeping me out. Meantime, here's your map:

11:12PM - ABC calls Colorado for Obama. I can't make the new maps fast enough!


11:05PM -
CNN calls Virginia for Barack Obama, as well. (And you've waited for the map long enough.)
11:01PM - The CBS crew is completely speechless. Not just the meteoric four-year rise, not just the urban background, not just the age--we've just put a black man in the White House. We now live, for the first time, in a country in which a black man can be President. The heck with the map, folks, Barack Obama is your next President.

11:00PM -

10:56PM -
Talk about "not pretending to be stupid": A few weeks ago the networks were all visibly grappling with the question of how to handle reporting on a race that could end up decided fairly early--whether to say so, or try to preserve the suspense--all of which led some senior editorial staffer at one outlet to say, "we're not in the business of pretending to be stupid." Well, just now Katie Couric signed off of the ten o'clock hour of coverage by saying, "When we return, history will be made." I guess that's your cue to pick up the phone, John.

10:51PM -
Just a reminder: It's not actually possible to do what I just did, at 10:42--namely, to base a guess about how a state will go on the partial precincts. The precincts themselves don't report their results on a proportionate basis, they come in completely at random. So if, for example, the only places we haven't heard from in a state are in the blue-leaning areas, then the current state of the partial precincts in a state will skew the race toward McCain. (Generally, the last precincts to report are from crowded, lower-income areas in urban areas, which means Democrats tend to do better and better as the percentage of precincts reporting increases.)

10:47PM -
Anyone care to wager when the next big undecided state will be called, and which one that is? My guess is that the networks will call Colorado for Obama before the top of the hour.

10:42PM -
Obama finally inches ahead in Virginia, 51-49 with 91% reported. It's also 51-49 for Obama with 80% reporting in Florida, while McCain continues to cling to a 15,000 vote lead in North Carolina with 86% reporting. Color me puzzled; I'd never have dreamed that these states would stay gray this long after Ohio went for us, and I certainly didn't think we'd lose any of them.

10:36PM -
CNN calls Mississippi for John McCain, and CBS (not wanting to be left out?) calls South Dakota for John McCain as well. By the way, CBS is also demurring on the competitive congressional districts in Nebraska. Here's (one version of) your current map:

10:33PM - Obama winning 37% of the whites and 97% of the blacks in North Carolina, which explains why that state is so neck-and-neck (fewer than 8,000 votes separate the two candidates, at the moment).

10:28PM -
CBS is calling Nebraska for McCain and (apparently) awarding all three of its congressional districts to him, too, keeping the state's electoral vote total intact. Here's the map:

10:22PM - Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) holds on in Pennsylvania, after calling his own constituents racists, while Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) goes down to defeat in Connecticut. Pardon my gracious frame of mind, but Chris Shays is not a bad guy. ...Which isn't quite the same as saying that I feel sorry for him, you understand.

10:18PM -
Here's a thought: One of the biggest "assists" in Obama's victory tonight is deserved by a certain Hillary Clinton. By dragging-out the primary contest instead of going gently into that good night, Hillary pushed Barack Obama into our living rooms, coast-to-coast, and forced him to build an enormous field operation that kept working at full, hot-house tempo all the way through... well... they're still working, out west.

10:10PM -
Nobody's talking about this, but frankly I think this is kind of a bizarre night: The early voting advantage isn't helping Obama in the very places where the canvass was looking the most favorable for him, and other places are going bluer than most of the reasonable political voices expected. Can someone explain to me how McCain might win Virginia on the same night that Kay Hagen beats Libby Dole? Why isn't anyone talking about this???

10:03PM -
CBS' county-by-county returns in Florida showing Obama out-performing in the I-4 corridor. Coupled with the Hispanic support for Obama, I think it's only a matter of time there. Here's your current map:

10:00PM - CBS calls Iowa for Obama, and Mississippi and Utah for McCain and (gutless!) doesn't call Nevada.

9:56PM -
Virginia is, essentially, down to a single vote. I still don't understand how to reconcile this with the enormous advantage Obama had in polling numbers and early vote totals, and I'm still inclined to wonder if the early votes are being counted as absentees, at the end? I didn't expect Virginia to be close, and neither did Fivethirtyeight.

9:53PM -
Couric talks to Ambinder about Obama's ground-game in Ohio, I wonder if Ambinder will mention that series of pieces on Fivethirtyeight about McCain's closed and locked field offices all over the country? Probably not.

9:50PM -
Another mini-drama of call differentials, right now: CBS is apparently calling only one of the two congressional districts in Maine, since their electoral vote tally for Obama is 199 and all the other networks have him at 200. Wouldn't it have been a pisser if Obama had hit exactly 270 on three of the major networks, and 269 on the other one, and the other one had turned out later to be right?

9:46PM -
Nevada and Iowa will both close in fourteen minutes, and they'll both pop immediately for Barack Obama.

9:42PM - Oh, this'll be good:
Katie Couric is about to interview Peggy Noonan about the election; anyone wanna bet on what Ms. Noonan decides to say, this time, about Sarah Palin? :-)

9:41PM -
I just lost my mappy-thingy, somehow. I don't know how, but it's not working anymore, so I'll be screen-capturing the networks' maps from now on.

9:30PM - CBS projects for McConnell and Cochran
. This is very interesting, folks--a much more interesting night than the top-line numbers would suggest. So far what's been happening is that the close Republican states in the north are blowing out for Obama and the close Republican states in the south are blowing out for the Republicans. By the way, CBS ALSO JUST PROJECTED NEW MEXICO. Here's your map:

9:25PM - TALK ABOUT AN EARLY NIGHT? With Ohio, Barack Obama makes it virtually impossible for McCain to win. The Pacific coast states, plus Obama's current total, adds up to virtually all of the 270 electoral votes he needs. (Entirely by the way, CBS has also called Louisiana for McCain--another state that had showed signs of tightening.) Here's the map:


9:20PM -
CBS just showed a shaded map of Virginia and McCain's doing very well in the south and west, but he's doing so much better in the central than any polling data had suggested that I'm inclined to wonder if the early votes are being left 'til the end. Indiana is looking very good for Obama--even if it doesn't ultimately fall, it's still spinning the coverage (and, to that extent, influencing things out west). I had to chuckle, though, when the guy playing with the map of Indiana circled the Gary/Hammond area and said, "this is where Notre Dame is."

9:15PM -
I know there are a lot of really smart people thinking about this stuff, but still I'm wondering if the early votes (for Obama) are being taken into appropriate consideration with these projections. What if, for example, the early votes in Virginia were all counted as absentee? Then it could be that Obama's advantage in early votes wouldn't show up until after all the precincts have reported.

9:10PM -
Most over-hyped story of the night so far? Whether the Democrats will get to 60 Senate seats and be "filibuster-proof." Cloture votes are NEVER along straight party lines, and with the power of the White House to toss pork at a Republican or two, the Democrats absolutely do not care whether they make 60 or not. Most under-hyped story of the night so far? The inability to call Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, or Missouri. With every second that ticks off with those states un-called, John McCain's chances just get slimmer and slimmer and slimmer.

9:00PM - Huge Top-of-the-Hour in numbers, maybe not drama.
Katie Couric can make it sound like a big moment if she wants to, but nobody lost money on TX and KS going for McCain or MN and WI and NY going for Obama. If there's a surprise this hour, it's only an air-quote surprise--Obama not forcing North Dakota to go a little deeper into the night. That's the third state that I thought we had a shot at winning, and to have them all red, this early, is disappointing, since it'll cut into Obama's mandate. Here's your map:

8:54PM - First big disappointment of the night. NBC has just called Georgia for John McCain. I shouldn't let that bother me, but gosh those early voter numbers for African Americans were awfully, awfully impressive, and it breaks my heart to see all that hard work go to waste. Maybe it'll help Jim Martin in his bid to unseat Saxby Chambliss, at least. Come to think of it, I'm probably like Steve Spurrier in this respect: He doesn't call a single play on offense without expecting it to end in a touchdown. Anyway, with the top of the hour fast approaching, here's your map:

8:44PM - Let's play a game. Can John McCain still win this election? Well, technically the answer is, of course, yes--until someone has 270 electoral votes, nobody can't have 270 electoral votes. But now that the only two creaky John Kerry states (PA and NH) have both been called for Obama, McCain must keep Obama from peeling another eighteen electoral votes from the Bush '04 map. It would only take eighteen more--that's Ohio all by itself, but it's also Nevada and Virginia all by themselves, too--for Barack Obama to make the magic number.

Of all the states that are still at least theoretically in play, McCain must win all of them and then-some. He must win IN, MO, VA, OH, FL, and NC -- all of which are trending Obama's way, to one extent or another -- but he must *also* keep Obama from making eighteen electoral votes out of NV, NM, CO, and IA. And those last four are states that nobody's been talking about for weeks because the race in those four places has been so solidly for Obama that nobody's been seriously considering them up for grabs.

I would also like to take a moment to toot my own horn, here, on two small scores: First, you heard it here first on the subject of McCain's Palin pick raising questions about his age and judgment--back when I was about as close to the lone voice in the wilderness as a person can get in the blog era without claiming that Neil Armstrong faked the 9/11 attacks. Second, you heard it here first on the subject of Indiana's stubborn refusal to be called, and the dramatic effect it would have on the evening election coverage on the TV. No constructive purpose for calling attention to that, you understand--but on the other hand, my Presidential seal isn't back from the printer's yet, either.

8:39PM -
CNN calls Alabama for McCain, but the story of this election has definitely been told with the inability to call Indiana for McCain, on the one hand, and the very, very quick pop for Pennsylvania, on the other. The McCain/Palin ticket put a lot of time and energy and money into the Keystone State, and they're getting walloped, there. Here's your map:

8:30PM - Arkansas for McCain, and CBS finally climbs aboard with the Pennsylvania call. There's a surprising amount of disparity between the networks tonight (although not right at the moment). Let's see which of the big networks decides to take the plunge first on one of the other big prizes.

8:24PM - Arkansas
at the bottom of hour.

8:21PM - Taking a breath.
At this moment, the big news is that McCain's last best hope for winning--the Pennsylvania gambit--is off the table. A conservative mainstream press is hesitant to call Virginia or Florida for Obama but both of them are showing some extremely promising crosstabs in their exit polling. If Obama wins 55-60% of the Hispanic vote in Florida, he just might be on track to break through the 353 electoral vote total we've been bandying about in here.

I guess that's the first death-rattle of the Karl Rove culture wars--especially with that whole "godless" business falling flat. They're also calling NH Senate for Jean Shaheen, but we expected that one.

8:13PM -
Governor Ed Rendell interviewed on CBS just now said that well over ninety percent of the registered voters in the Philadelphia area have voted. Probably explains why NBC and ABC have put it in Obama's column, huh?

. If that call holds up with the other networks, this thing is pretty-much over. Here's your map (amended to take Rhode Island back down from the Obama campaign, which I mistakenly awarded him earlier).

8:00PM - Katie Couric announces that Florida, Pennsylvania, and Missouri are all un-called, but a gaggle of other states have fallen: Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, and Delaware, and the District of Columbia (Obama), while Tennessee and Oklahoma are called for McCain. Looking for a spin? How about that New Hampshire fell the instant it closed? Maybe the press is trying to be cautious with this thing, and some of those other states are going blue, too.

Meanwhile, CBS is reporting that Obama is winning the Hispanic vote in Florida (uh-oh) and significantly out-performing expectations in the Republican areas--the so-called "T"--of Pennsylvania.

Here's your map:

7:57PM - Fasten your seatbelts, Pennsylvania and Ohio are about to close at the top of the hour. A double-blue is the end of the road for John McCain.

7:53PM - Fun fact of the half-hour? How about this one, courtesy of CBS: Of all the money Barack Obama raised for this campaign, seventy percent was spent on red states. Call him arrogant all you want, but he'll take that label if it comes with a change of address.

7:49PM - CBS calls South Carolina for McCain. Pass the No-Doz, please....

7:41PM - Still no big calls, which is pretty bad news for McCain. Indiana, in particular, sitting there gray is having disproportionate effect on the way the news is being spun. CBS is hinting that Obama is outperforming his own expectations in rural Virginia and rural Indiana, and is even more significantly outperforming past Democrats in young-voter turnout. If they're not full of baloney, that's a very steep hill for McCain, indeed.

7:37PM - FIRST SIGN OF A BIG NIGHT? Now that I'm caught up a little, I had a quick peek at one of the other big political news aggregator sites, and there's a blurb there about exit polls being so good for Obama that the site manager from that other place doesn't even believe them.

7:31PM - West Virginia pops for McCain at the moment of poll-closings, which is a shame because we got it close there for a couple of weeks, but it's the sort of state that Rick Davis probably had in mind when he said that Obama "won this election three weeks too early." At all events, it doesn't come across as a surprise, so it won't hurt Obama's chances anywhere else. Here's your map:

7:29PM - BIG MOMENT COMING, as polls close in Ohio and North Carolina in just over a minute. If one or both fall immediately for Obama, this is an early night. If they remain uncalled, Obama wins later tonight. If they both pop instantly for McCain, Obama could lose.

7:20PM (EST) - Sorry I'm late; I've been working for the Obama campaign all day and just got home. Final pregame thoughts? Look for Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida to tell the early story. If more than one or two of those go blue, it's a back-breaker for McCain. Obama doesn't need any of them to become President. Here's your map, up-to-the-minute.


A. Gordon said...

Woof. Thanks Dave. As I write this NC, IN, MT, MO, and AK have yet to be called. It appears Obama will carry NC, IN and MT, but not MO and obviously not AK.

Franken doesn't look like he'll pull out the senate race in MN, but Merkley looks like he might win in a squeaker. CNN hasn't done anything with Alaska even though polls have been closed now for 30 minutes on the mainland (the Aleutian island polls are still open, but my guess is that the population there is relatively sparse).

Biggest difference I noticed between the Obama and McCain speeches was 1) the deathly silence of the McCain crowd (save for the one jackass who shouted "Palin 2012"), and 2) the boos from the McCain crowd when he mentioned Obama, and the cheers when Obama mentioned McCain.

What do you expect to happen when you call on your followers to hate and feed them 100% negativity? And now Obama/Biden and the rest of us have to clean up McCain's mess by having to deal with these nutjob/brainless McCain followers.

Anonymous said...

Regarding going dark in your final post...

Like you said at 12:16am: "I think, personally, he was just a little bit tired. ...And who could blame him?"

The same can be said for you. You've provided us deep analysis in your blog, and it became a fixture for me during this election season. So thank you again.

We are living in historic times. It feels good. I'm proud to be an American this morning. Seeing the Obama family on stage last night made me wonder if we were seeing a new Camelot. Perhaps magic does exist.

There is just so much to look forward to from all aspects of the Obama presidency. For example, my wife, an etiquette consultant (recently quoted in the Huffington Post!), is so taken by Michelle Obama and how she carries herself, that she can't wait to see her assume the role of First Lady.

Now that the election is over, I hope you continue your blog. It's a pleasure to read.

isuyankee said...

Great job Dave. It has been fun to read your election coverage and now you can also say your predictions were dead on. Take a day (or a week) off-you earned it.

Dave O'Gorman said...

Thanks to all! Keep reading; we're only just getting started on this long, hard fight together.

Brian Broda said...


Thanks for your efforts in covering this election. Once I found your Blog, reading your posts have been an almost daily activity for me. Along with your editorials, the links you included were fantastically useful. I can honestly say that I was not able to find a Republican blog source that was nearly as useful and, more importantly for me, not an aggressively negative editorial.