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How to Make Tomorrow an Early Night

November 7, 2016

The outcome of the presidential election that finally ends tomorrow night turns on five states: Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Ohio. Donald Trump must win all of them to become the president of the United States. Hillary Clinton only needs to win one of them.

Nearly final polling has Clinton well ahead in New Hampshire, ahead in Nevada, and just barely ahead in Florida and North Carolina, and Trump well ahead in Ohio. Polls close in North Carolina and Ohio at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time, and in Florida and New Hampshire at 8 p.m. If Clinton wins any of those, you can call it a night and go to bed content in the knowledge that you will wake up to the news of President-elect Hillary Rodham Clinton.

If you want to wait up until control of the Senate is decided, the only way you’re going to bed early tomorrow night is if Republicans retain their majority. A Democratic win is almost certain to depend on Nevada, where the polls don’t close until 10 p.m. Eastern Time.

Democrats need to pick up four seats tomorrow night, provided that they lose none and provided that Tim Kaine becomes vice president instead of Mike Pence. The Nevada seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid is way too close to call, so an early night for Democrats requires a pick-up of five seats in the eastern U.S. as insurance against losing in Nevada. Unfortunately, there probably aren’t five seats to be picked up.

Two Democratic pick-ups are all but assured – Tammy Duckworth and Russ Feingold being all but certain to unseat Republican incumbents in Illinois and Wisconsin, respectively. Katie McGinty is likely, but hardly certain, to beat the Republican incumbent in Pennsylvania.

After that, the Democratic pickings get slim. New Hampshire’s Maggie Hassan is running neck-and-neck with Republican incumbent Kelly Ayotte. If Hassan edges out Ayotte (President Obama gave a rouser in Durham, N.H. this afternoon), that would get the Democrats to four pick-ups, pending the outcome in Nevada.

Democrats’ best hope for a fifth pick-up is in Missouri, where Republican incumbent Roy Blunt is distinctly ahead of Jason Kander.

At this point, control of the Senate is almost exactly a 50-50 proposition, but the good news is that Clinton showed a significant uptick in polls released today, maybe the most poll-drenched day of the entire campaign. Senate races are naturally less heavily polled than the presidential race, so there is some chance that Clinton’s uptick didn’t fully appear in Senate polling results, but will tomorrow.

Still, best case for Democrats is bad news for Tim Kaine – as Vice President, Kaine may be spending more of his time than he might have planned hanging around near the Senate floor, waiting to break party-line ties.

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