Barack Obama will spend election night in Chicago.
Mitt Romney will spend the night in Boston.
And there’s a good chance that both men will spend the night just like many WiG readers in Madison, Milwaukee and Manitowoc – seated in front of a television, with a laptop and a smartphone nearby, watching the results trickle in.
Following is what to watch for on Nov. 6.
- The forecast for election night? Besides rain and temperatures in the mid-40s, expect a late night – many news organizations have pledged not to call races or release exit poll data early – especially not before the last of the tens of thousands of precincts in the U.S. close.
- In 2008, CNN called the presidential election at about 11:28 p.m. on Nov. 4 and Obama didn’t step to the stage in Chicago’s Grant Park to say, “Hello Chicago” until after midnight on Nov. 5. It may be at least that late before Obama takes the stage at McCormick Place on Chicago’s South Side and Romney at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in South Boston.
- Who will be giving the victory speech and who will be making the concession? The presidential race likely will be decided in a handful of swing states and, within those states, a handful of key counties. Watch to see whether the map is colored red or blue for Hillsborough County, N.H., Prince William County, Va., Jefferson County and Arapahoe County, Colo., Hamilton County, Ohio, Pinellas and Hillsborough County in Florida. More than one political expert has said that the candidate who wins the Tampa Bay area will win the White House.
- GBT activists seem confident of victory in at least one – if not all – of four ballot initiatives on gay marriage. Maine, Washington and Maryland voters are deciding whether to legalize same-sex marriage. Look for “yes” votes for an LGBT win. Minnesota voters are deciding whether to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Look for “no” votes for an LGBT victory.
- Other ballot questions – there are at least 176 being decided – to watch: Washington, Oregon and Colorado could legalize marijuana use for adults 21 and older. The question is polling favorably in Washington.
California voters face a decision on whether to revoke the death penalty. Michigan voters will decide whether to amend the their constitution to include a right to collective bargaining. Montana voters will decide whether to ban corporate spending in elections.
- This could be a record-setting election for LGBT candidates, with at least 170 out candidates running for office.
Watch the returns in Wisconsin, where out state Rep. Mark Pocan, D, is expected to win the Congressional District 2 race against Republican Chad Lee. Out U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D, is polling ahead of former Gov. Tommy Thompson for the U.S. Senate.
- In Massachusetts, track out Republican Richard Tisei’s race against incumbent Democrat John F. Tierney for Congressional District 6.
- In Arizona’s District 9, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema is running against Republican Vernon Parker and hopes to become the first openly bisexual candidate elected to Congress.
- In California, Democrat Mark Takano is an out candidate running against Republican John F. Tavaglione for Congressional District 41.
- In Colorado, out U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D, is running for re-election in District 2.
In Rhode Island, out U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, D, is running for re-election in District 1 against Republican Brendan P. Doherty.
- In New York, out Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney is running for the Congressional District 18.
In Idaho, out Democrat Nicole Lefavour is running against incumbent Republican Mike Simpson for the Congressional District 2.
All the seats in the U.S. House are up for election, but the GOP is expected to win the 218 needed to hold its majority.
Among the two dozen tossups? Michele Bachmann’s re-election bid against Jim Graves in Minnesota’s District 6 is tight – her reckless and failed bid for the presidential nomination remains an issue for moderates. That’s a race to watch.
The battle for the Senate is much closer than the House, with 10 tossups that will decide the majority party. Races to watch, besides the Baldwin versus Thompson battle, include:
- Incumbent Republican Scott Brown versus Democrat Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts. Warren was up 4.7 points in the latest poll.
- Incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill versus Republican Todd Akin in Missouri. McCaskill was up 5 points in the latest poll.
- Republican Richard Mourdock versus Democrat Joe Donnelly in Indiana.
Republican Linda McMahon versus Democrat Chris Murphy in Connecticut. Murphy was up 3 points in the latest poll.
- Incumbent Republican Dean Heller versus Democrat Shelley Berkley in Nevada. Heller was up 4.8 points in the latest poll.
- Republican Jeff Flake versus Democrat Richard Carmona in Arizona. Flake was up less than 1 point in the latest poll.
WiG will be posting news on election night at www.wisconsingazette.com, as well as on our Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Other sources on election night include:
CNN and its breaking news Twitter feed, for getting results first; Comedy Central, for making results funny; realclearpolitics.com for making results comprehensive; Madison’s Capital Times/madison.com, for getting state results.
The earliest returns on Nov. 6 will show up on news wires and special election services shortly after 7 p.m. CST, when the polls close in Indiana and Kentucky. The pace will quicken to a peak about 11 p.m. CST. But the counting will continue through the day Nov. 7.