An Hour-by-Hour Guide to Election Night

Things start cooking at 6pm EST

By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 6, 2012 2:51 AM CST | Updated Nov 6, 2012 6:03 AM CST

(Newser) – Today's the day ... but not much will happen until tonight. An hourly rundown of what to watch for in the quest for the big 270 (all times EST):

  • 6pm: And the polls start closing! Indiana and Kentucky are the first to close a portion of their polls. The states aren't officially done until 7pm, but Politico reports that their first polling results are expected at 6pm.
  • 7pm: Six states completely shut their doors, the most notable of which is battleground state Virginia, which went blue in 2008 for the first time since 1964. Obama and Romney were virtually tied there, according to a poll out yesterday; if either manages to grab the state's 13 electoral votes by a comfortable margin, that could be telling, reports the AP.

  • 7:30pm: The star of this time slot is Ohio (18 electoral votes), though it shares the spotlight with fellow swing-state North Carolina (15). Real Clear Politics' average of a slew of polls gives Obama a three-point edge in Ohio.
  • 8pm: Polling ends in the District of Columbia and 16 states, with Florida (29) and New Hampshire (four) leading the list of ones to watch; a CNN Poll of Polls yesterday had Obama up 50% to 48% in the Granite State. The majority of Florida's polls actually close at 7pm, but the AP cautions Florida-watchers from declaring victory or defeat too quickly: Some of the state's Democratic strongholds are typically last to report. Also keep an eye on Pennsylvania (21), which Romney is hoping to grab from Obama.
  • 8:30pm: The lone state of Arkansas (six) closes its polls; Romney should take it easily.
  • 9pm: Another 14 states call it quits. Keep an eye on Colorado (nine), along with three states that are expected to go blue: Wisconsin (10), Minnesota (10), and Michigan (17). If Romney is able to flip any of them, it's big news.
  • 10pm: Among this hour's four states are the last of the battlegrounds: Iowa (six) and Nevada (six). If Romney doesn't take Ohio and Wisconsin, he needs Nevada.
  • 11pm: Polls close in five western states, and there shouldn't be any surprises. Obama will add 78 electoral votes from California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington to his tally; Romney gets four from Idaho.
  • 1am: Should you still be awake, you can watch Romney take Alaska's three electoral votes.

Tuscaloosa County maintenance department employees set up a Vote sign in front of Flatwoods Baptist Church in Northport, Ala.
Tuscaloosa County maintenance department employees set up a "Vote" sign in front of Flatwoods Baptist Church in Northport, Ala.   (AP Photo/Tuscaloosa News, Michelle Lepianka Carter)
Voters arrive and depart during early voting at a polling place at the Wicomico County Youth and Civic Center in Salisbury, Md.
Voters arrive and depart during early voting at a polling place at the Wicomico County Youth and Civic Center in Salisbury, Md.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
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