What to watch for on Election Day
After nearly two years, the most grueling and contentious election in modern history is finally coming to a close.
Tuesday night will see a steady stream of polls closing in states across the country, and as votes are counted, results will start coming in.
To give a sense of what to expect, here's a list of when polling ends in each state and DC, as reported by The Green Papers, as well as a guide of which states to watch closely. All times listed are in Eastern Standard Time.
6:00 PM: Eastern Indiana and Kentucky
The first polling places to close are the parts of Indiana and Kentucky that fall in the Eastern Time Zone. While both of these states are very likely to go for Republican nominee Donald Trump, it's worth noting that Gary, Indiana, which falls in the Central Time Zone and so has its polls close an hour later, has traditionally been a Democratic stronghold.
7:00 PM: The first big swing state
At 7:00 p.m., several eastern states will start counting their votes. Georgia and South Carolina will likely come in for Donald Trump, although the former is a perennial target for a Democratic surprise. 7:00 p.m. also marks the end of voting in the western parts of likely-Republican Kentucky and Indiana.
Meanwhile, Vermont is favorable territory for Hillary Clinton, and the former Secretary of State has consistently held a narrow lead in Virginia.
Professor Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium told Business Insider that he's not focusing on the latter swing state: "The last two elections, the Virginia counts did not reflect polls, the polling was accurate but if you actually wanted counties to tell you what was happening, you had to stay up until midnight. So I specifically do not watch Virginia on Election Day."
The big prize at this point in the night is Florida. The overwhelming majority of the state that falls in Eastern Time begins its vote count at 7:00 p.m. Florida is the largest of the true swing states, with 29 electoral votes and as of Monday morning a tossup with Real Clear Politics' polling average showing Clinton ahead of Trump by just a single percentage point in a four-way race.
7:30 PM: Two more swing states
At 7:30 p.m., the key swing states of Ohio and North Carolina begin counting their votes. Polls also close in West Virginia, where Trump is very heavily favored.
Professor Wang said of North Carolina, "A state I'm going to be watching really closely is North Carolina, because it's going to be interesting at three levels. Right, president, Senate, and governor. Gerrymandering has taken it off the table at the House level, but at the other levels it's a really interesting state to watch."
8:00 PM: The East weighs in
8:00 p.m. features a huge wave of states whose polls are closing. In the likely Clinton column are Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Illinois, and Rhode Island.
States where Trump is heavily favored are Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and the Central Time parts of Kansas and South Dakota. Some polling in October suggested that Texas, where the large part of the state in the Central Time Zone has polls closing at 8:00 p.m., might be closer than usual, but is still likely to go Republican as it has in every presidential election since 1980.
Up for grabs are Maine, which allocates its electoral votes by congressional district and where its rural northern second district has leaned towards Trump, as well as New Hampshire and the part of the Florida panhandle that falls in the Central Time Zone. The big prizes closing at this hour are Pennsylvania, where Clinton has mostly held a narrow lead, and the majority of Michigan that falls in the Eastern Time Zone.
Wang has his eye on New Hampshire as an early benchmark for the accuracy of polling data. He told Business Insider, "So four years ago I watched New Hampshire because they count fast and it was a small state and I wanted to know if the polls were accurate. And so early on election night, I was watching New Hampshire, and it was coming in right on the button with polls. So my thought was, 'OK, all this talk about polls being inaccurate is probably wrong because New Hampshire came in on the button.'"
8:30 PM: Arkansas
Although she was the state's First Lady, Clinton will very likely lose Arkansas to Donald Trump.
9:00 PM: The middle of the country weighs in
Another large wave of states have polls closing at 9:00 p.m. New York should come in solidly for Hillary Clinton. States that have been leaning towards Clinton but that are not completely out of Trump's reach include Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado, New Mexico, and the small part of Michigan's Upper Peninsula that falls in the Central Time Zone.
Likely Trump states include Louisiana, Nebraska, Wyoming and the western Mountain Time Zone parts of Kansas, South Dakota, and Texas. Polling in Arizona shows a tighter-than-normal race, but Trump is still favored there, holding a four point lead as of Monday morning.
10:00 PM: The last major swing states
At 10:00 p.m., several states that favor Donald Trump will have their polls close, including Montana, the part of North Dakota in the Central Time Zone, and the part of Idaho in the Mountain Time Zone. Utah has been an interesting case: While some polling has shown independent candidate Evan McMullin as being competitive in the traditionally Republican state, Trump will still likely win.
A small part of eastern Oregon that falls in the Mountain Time Zone also has polls closing at 10:00 p.m. Clinton is highly favored in that state.
The last two swing states also will start counting votes at this hour. Trump maintains a narrow polling lead in Iowa, while in Nevada, early voting has been favorable to Clinton. Professor Wang noted that Nevada is a difficult state to poll: "The usual favorites for biggest error are the places with the most mobile voters who moved to the state like Nevada, which will be a big choice."
11:00 PM: Polls are closed in the continental US
Polls closing on the West Coast will likely give Hillary Clinton a huge chunk of electoral votes, as she is strongly favored in California, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii.
In Trump's column will likely be the western Mountain Time part of North Dakota and the Pacific Time areas of Idaho.
Midnight and 1:00 AM: The last frontier
Polls close in the majority of Alaska at 12:00 a.m., and in some far western Aleutian Islands at 1:00 a.m. Of course, barring some very unforeseen circumstances, Alaska's three electoral votes that are likely to go to Trump will probably not decide the election.
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