Tuesday, October 19, 2010

...When I Poll Into the Wild Wild West

There is an article on Fivethirtyeight with the headline "Alaska Race May Make for Long Election Night". It won't be the only state. Consider the following:

- Control of the U.S. Senate will most certainly come down to states on the west coast. Current projections show Washington, Nevada, and California to be tossups. As polls close in Nevada at 10 pm eastern, the projected Senate count may be as high as 47 Democrats to 47 Republicans. California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Hawaii will be the only states remaining with polls open.

- Nevada will be one of the closest races in the country, so no one will be able to project a winner for a couple of hours.

- Washington and California's incumbent senators Boxer and Murray are each in surprisingly close races. The 2010 equivalent of Tim Russert (John King?) will do the math and state what will be the obvious; that for the Republicans to win control of the Senate, either Fiorina must win in California or Rossi must win in Washington (or both).

- Besides having late poll closings, west coast states also count election results very slowly. A majority of people in Oregon and Washington vote by mail. These results take longer to tally. Oregon was one of the last states in 2000 to move out of the too-close-to-call category. It took several days.

- The write-in candidacy of Republican incumbent Lisa Murkowski in Alaska, according to polls, is doing remarkably well. Unfortunately it will be difficult to count, and the results will be haggled over for days, weeks, or months, quite possibly. The election in that state may come down to the legibility of Alaskans' handwriting.

So, don't expect to know which party has controlled the Senate until the next morning at the earliest. Political junkies like myself should feel free to go to bed knowing that the question will remain unanswered until we wake up.

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