By Jim Ellis
Nov. 8, 2016 — At long last, the 2016 election cycle draws to a close this evening, as we have finally reached Election Day.
The final polls show ending momentum for Hillary Clinton. Ten surveys reported results, all with sampling periods ending Nov. 6. Nine of the 10 find Clinton leading the presidential race by an average of 3.6 percentage points. Her margin stretches from two to six points.
The Electoral College projections appear to put Clinton in the low 300 electoral vote range, well beyond the 270 needed to clinch the presidency. Donald Trump appears to be on the upswing in North Carolina, Iowa, and Ohio, but he would also need victories in Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire and the 2nd Congressional District of Maine to secure a minimum electoral vote victory. Though both parties have invested major time commitments during the last few days in Pennsylvania, the state seems destined to support Ms. Clinton by a discernible margin.
All of these prognostications, of course, are conjecture. We will see the actual results later this evening, giving us the ability to provide plenty of actual analysis based upon votes and not potentially arbitrary polling data.
It has been a very long time since we have seen six Senate races going into Election Day rated as toss-ups. But, that is the case today. While Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) is likely to lose his seat to Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D), Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Richard Burr (R-NC), and Pat Toomey (R-PA) are in races considered too close to call. The same is true for the open seats in Indiana and Nevada.
Additionally, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who has been trailing former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) virtually all year, is making a last ditch effort to overtake the man he unseated six years ago. The last published Wisconsin poll, from Loras College (Oct. 31-Nov. 1; 500 likely Wisconsin voters), finds Johnson pulling to within just two points of Feingold, 45-47 percent.
Either the Senate ending in a 50-50 split, or a 51 seat Democratic majority will most likely be the final scenario.
The entire House stands for re-election today, and Republicans are well positioned to protect their large majority. Though the 247R-188D party division spread is likely to close, it is a reasonable bet that the Republicans will land around the 235 mark (leaving the Democrats in the 200 range).
Polls close first in Indiana and Kentucky, at 6 pm EST. Indiana is an important state, hosting competitive races for senator, governor, and two congressional contests. Though the polls close at 6, it is likely the networks won’t report any numbers until after 7 pm, since both states land in more than one time zone. This latter time will also feature closings in all-important Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, Vermont, and part of New Hampshire.
Two other critically important states, Ohio and North Carolina, along with West Virginia, have a 7:30 pm deadline. The rest of the eastern zone closes at 8 pm, with the exception of New York, which stretches to 9 pm.
At this point, the Central zone states will begin to close and the returns will then continue moving west. The ending times will continue all the way to 1 am (EST) in the state of Hawaii.