So here’s the schedule (all times in Central US, which is GMT-6)
Today: no polls, and no voting. Last minute campaign rallying. Normally would be no news but last night at midnight Trump decided to announce he was going to fire Fauci so who knows.
Tomorrow, daytime: voting begins. Expect lots of stories of extremely long lines, and possible voter intimidation (the right wing will come up with one scary black person in Philadelphia to justify the New Black Panther Party coming to steal your suburbs, while heavily armed Trump supporters will show up at polling places just to, you know, hang out). No exit polls will be announced by any reputable news organizations; some may leak to places like Drudge.
Note also that many polling sites may stay open late if voters are still in line, which will affect the times listed below.
6:00PM – the first polling sites close on the East coast. Expect many states to be called immediately because they were never in doubt. The results to look for: Georgia (which is a tossup but final results will take days), South Carolina (if showing Biden in striking range, could be significant. Also, Lindsay Graham’s career is in peril.)
6:30PM – polls close in, among a few to be called immediately, Ohio and North Carolina. Ohio will almost certainly not have any clear results for days. North Carolina will open reporting its early voting which almost certainly be deceptively strong for Biden. The actual trend will not be apparent for a few hours.
7:00PM – another wave of poll closings. The only results in doubt are Florida. As many polls in Florida actually closed at 6:00PM, if the state broke clearly one way or the other it may be apparent now. If it’s close, it will take a few hours. Pennsylvania also will begin reporting results; the chances of any significant decision there at this hour is 0.0000%. We won’t know Pennsylvania’s result until possibly next week, or maybe next month if the courts get involved.
8:00PM – another wave. Significant states include Michigan (which had many polls close at 7 — if the results don’t match polling which indicated a win for Biden, it will be noticeable), Minnesota (another likely win for Biden, but Trump has tried hard here), Texas (which has almost no mail-in ballots because Texas doesn’t believe in them, however, given latest polling is literally a tie, a clear winner will take a few hours to be apparent), Arizona, and Wisconsin (which will almost certainly be very slow in reporting results – the Republican state legislature has absolutely gutted the election apparatus because Wisconsinites have been voting incorrectly)
9:00PM – this hour’s wave of closings include Nevada (a likely Biden win which will report results fairly quickly). Of more significance – this is about when we should start to see statistically significant results from some close states such as Florida and Georgia.
10:00PM – Polls close almost everywhere except Alaska and Hawaii, and the West Coast begins to report results.
11:00PM – If Biden has closed Trump’s path to victory, it should be apparent about now. If Trump loses in Texas, North Carolina, or Georgia, he almost certainly cannot win the Presidency. If Trump loses Florida or Ohio, it becomes very difficult. If Biden has a substantial lead in any of them, the discussion now will be if/when Trump will concede. If Trump is leading in all of them, according to the Axios story this is when he will claim premature victory – which, while technically meaningless, will immediately move the election to the next phase of “litigating every vote still outstanding”, and will probably land Wisconsin and Pennsylvania’s results in the courts.
So we’ll know by 11 which part of the Choose-Your-Own-Nightmare Series book we turn to next, basically. Do we wonder how Trump reacts to a thumping election defeat and three months of ruling with zero accountability as a lame duck who could conceivably start wars and pardon everyone he knows? Do we confront a failure of polling, a clear Trump victory, and the probable demise of American democracy? Or do we wonder if we’re going to spend the next few months in chaotic civil war over which votes will be ignored?
Fun stuff. As your doctor, I recommend drinking heavily.