It’s finally here. After month of waiting, the 2016 elections will culminate in a blizzard of results tonight from all fifty states, with much more than just the White House on the line, as Democrats try to take back at least one house of Congress.
A few thoughts as we get ready for some real numbers:
1. The first polls close at 6 pm ET. Election addicts like me know that the first polls close in the Eastern Time zone of Indiana and Kentucky. No states will be called by any of the television networks until at least 7 pm when polls close fully in those two states, along with South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia. Ohio and North Carolina close at 7:30 pm. Some of the first returns tonight will be the “early vote” – both absentee and in person early voting – and those should be a good indicator of where those states are going. Even with all the people who voted early, there has still been a lot of activity today at the polls.
2. Are we witnessing a record Hispanic turnout? In states like Florida, Arizona, Nevada and others, Democrats are hoping that Hispanic voters are flocking to their side, as raw numbers of people voting have shown a big increase in the number of Hispanics who are going to the polls in 2016. It would certainly be an ironic twist to this campaign if Hispanics provide the margin of victory for the Democrats over Donald Trump – or if it doesn’t happen. Stay tuned on this part of Election Day.
3. The fight for the U.S Senate is close. If Republicans are going to keep control of the Senate, then they have some difficult races to navigate on this Election Day. Democrats can take charge with a net gain of four seats – and a win by Hillary Clinton, or a five seat gain if Donald Trump is the winner. Democrats are likely to win in Illinois where Sen. Mark Kirk is running for re-election. Other races to watch, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Florida. It’s a big night for more than just the race for President.
4. There will be change in Congress – but how much? Already, 49 members of the U.S. House and five Senators won’t be back in January for the start of the 115th Congress. The question today is, how many others will be tossed over the electoral cliff by the voters. In 2014, 14 House members were defeated on Election Day. In 2012, the last election for President, it was 27. 54 House members bit the dust in the Tea Party sweep of 2010. 19 lost in 2008. The average of the last six elections is 24 incumbents going down on Election Day. We’ll see whether tonight is better or worse for those holding a job on Capitol Hill.
5. A lot of ballots are already in. You may have had to stand in line today to vote, but for many millions of Americans, they did not have to worry about going to the polls. Michael McDonald, a professor at the University of Florida who tracks this kind of statistic, says 47 million people voted before today, which is the largest number ever.