What To Watch For When You Are Watching Election Night Coverage

By Jenny Schlesinger

Nov 2, 2010 7:45am

ABC News' Amy Walter reports: There is no “perfect” way to watch the returns, but if you want to have a sense of just how big – or not – this election will be for Republicans, here’s a quick guide. Big Picture:  By 10pm EST, polls will have closed in 39 states and DC. There are 94 competitive Democratic-held seats in those states and 17 key Senate contests.  For Republicans to win control of the Senate, they can’t afford to lose in more than two Dem-held seats.  By the time we hit the 10pm poll closings, Republicans need to have gained at least seven seats.  The House math is a bit more complicated. There’s no “easy” metric to use. But, below is a guide to help you gauge whether we are looking at a long, long night before House control is called or whether we may know earlier in the evening. I’ve listed each poll closing time with “expected outcome” (those races we have leaning toward the Republican or Democrat) and those that could serve as “canaries in the coal mine” (races that signal a potential for huge Democratic losses, perhaps in the 50+ range).  Most important, no one race should ever be seen as THE determinative one. And, of course, elections are not always linear. Just because a pattern holds in PA for example, doesn't mean the same will be true in NY or CO.  7pm: Polls close in GA, IN, KY, SC, VT and VA.  Expected outcome: GA-08, IN08, VA-02, VA-05 Lean GOP. If, however, Tom Perriello (VA-05) pulls out a victory it’d be a huge win for President Obama who did last minute stumping for him in Charlottesville last week.  Canaries In The Coal Mine: SC-05, IN-09, VA-09, IN-02, GA-02, KY-06.  7:30pm: Polls close in NC, OH, WV Expected outcome: OH-01, OH-15 lean Republican  Canaries In The Coal Mine: OH-6, OH-18, WV-01, WV-03.   8:00pm: Polls close in AL, CT, DE, FL, IL, ME, MD, MA, MS, MO, NH, NJ, OK, PA, TN  Expected outcome: FL-8, FL-24, FL-2, IL-11, NH-01, PA-03, TN-06, TN-08, AR-02 all Lean Republican.  DE-AL and IL-10 are two GOP-held seats that Lean Democratic.  Canaries In The Coal Mine: Any of the CT seats flipping (CT-04 and CT-05 specifically), IL-17, MS-04, MO-04, FL-22, PA-12, PA-10, TN-04  9pm: Polls close in CO, KS, LA, MI, NE, NM, NY, ND, RI, SD, TX, WI, WY  Expected Outcome: CO-04, KS-03, LA-03, NY-29, TX-17, WI-08 all lean R.  LA-02 is a likely Dem pick-up.  Canaries In Coal Mine: MI-09, MN-08, NM-01, NY-23, WI-07

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