Poll closing times and what to look for as the night rolls on

We’re approaching 6 P.M. EST That’s when the polls close in most of Kentucky, where we’re watching the McConnell-Lunsford race, and also close in parts of Indiana. We probably won’t get anything more definitive than McCain winning Kentucky.

The night will unfold as the polls close across the country. The networks will have the exit polling info. and will be giving clues. They’ll give breakdowns of different demographic groups like young voters, white men and African-Americans — and what percent of voters chose the economy and change as their tops issues. But, there are also some important things to watch for in terms of results — what’s called and what isn’t.

I put together a breakdown of the times the rest of the states close…keep in mind, polls will stay open past the scheduled closing times if people are in line.

Things should get interesting after 7:00 P.M. EST. That’s when Indiana shuts down statewide — and also Vermont, Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia polls close. Most of Florida close at 7:00, too, but the western parts of the Panhandle are in another time zone. Based on some quick research, it looked like the networks called Indiana and Georgia within minutes of the polls closing back on November 2, 2004. If no early calls tonight, it could be a long night for McCain. That’ll be one of the early indicators. In past years, the Republican candidate had those electoral votes nailed down very early in the night.

At 7:30 P.M. EST North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia close. Don’t expect anything early from Ohio. North Carolina is key for Obama and the Senate race.

Then, at 8:00 P.M. EST, a slew of states close including Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. All of Florida closes by 8:00 P.M. Missouri will be the nail biter. Don’t expect results until close to midnight when St. Louis County and the city come in. Remember McCain thinks he’s going to win PA and NH.

At 8:30 P.M. EST, Arkansas closes.

Then, at 9:00 P.M. EST another wave of states close: Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin. Watch for Colorado and North Dakota in this batch.

At 10:00 P.M. EST, Iowa, Montana, Nevada and Utah close. At 11:00 P.M. EST, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon and Washington shut down.

Alaska will have all of its polls closed by 1:00 A.M. EST. We’ll find out very late if Ted Stevens is going down.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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