Election Day tests patience along with assumptions: The Note

The results will be littered with tales of vindication and repudiation.

November 8, 2022, 6:03 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

It's the day where it all culminates: the final day of voting everywhere in the nation, with judgments rendered on the trajectory of a presidency, the future of Congress and quite possibly the future of democracy.

What Tuesday is not is a day where everything is going to be known. All races will not be settled no matter how late people stay up or what political leaders say about those results -- and that's normal, expected and neither new nor a secret.

In Pennsylvania, a state elections official has said that unofficial results from the state will take "at least a few days." Officials caution that early results could overstate Democrats' vote, while late-night results may favor Republicans, and the true results will simply take time to pan out, particularly in the critical Senate race.

In Arizona and Nevada, election administrators likewise said final results will take days -- and that early returns could favor one party or the other in a way that may not hold. Georgia is hoping for a quicker count, but county-by-county quirks could impact the timing and that race could go into four weeks of overtime if, as seems likely, neither candidate hits 50%, leading to a runoff.

The hope Americans place in elections is that they will settle arguments. Democrats or Republicans will control the House and Senate when the counting is done, and the results will be littered with tales of vindication and repudiation.

Those, too, will take time -- as it did in 2020 and as it will for years to come. Until then, added complications of misunderstanding and misinformation are likely to add to national tensions before anything is truly sorted out.

PHOTO: An election official removes mail-in ballots from a full drop box in the town of Reading, in Berks County Pa. Nov. 7, 2022.
An election official removes mail-in ballots from a full drop box in the town of Reading, in Berks County Pa. Nov. 7, 2022.
Miguel Juarez Lugo/ZumaPress

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

This Election Day, the White House is urging Americans to head to the polls, with administration officials voicing confidence that there won't be violence like the kind that ensued during the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol.

"Americans should feel safe going to the polls. It is important for Americans to do so," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday.

She told reporters that "no specific credible threats" have been identified by law enforcement.

The fear of such turmoil is high, according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, with 88% of adults expressing concern that political divisions have gotten to the point that there's an increased risk of politically motivated violence in this country.

Experts have emphasized that most Americans will vote without incident and elections officials across the country have taken steps to secure the polls. But worries remain among some, despite the preparedness efforts.

"My big concern is always that lone wolf who's activated by the lies in the misinformation ... in some random county in Georgia, and we have no idea what they're thinking and doing and they do something at a polling location," Gabriel Sterling, the chief operating officer for the Georgia secretary of state, said in an interview with ABC News' Hannah Demissie. "That is my big underlying fear, because there's really almost no way to prepare for it."

The disinformation Sterling refers to is largely fueled by the lies about the 2020 election -- including that Donald Trump didn't really lose, a lie which could win big after votes are tallied on Tuesday and the days afterward. Sixty percent of Americans will have an election denier on their ballot.

PHOTO: Georgia Secretary of State Chief Operating Officer Gabriel Sterling speaks to the media about early voting progress in Atlanta, October 25, 2022.
Georgia Secretary of State Chief Operating Officer Gabriel Sterling speaks to the media about early voting progress in Atlanta, October 25, 2022.
Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

With all eyes on the Senate, the path to the majority is likely to fall across three key battleground states and just a handful of counties. As results trickle in from Georgia, Pennsylvania and -- later Tuesday night -- Nevada, the contours of those races are expected to demonstrate not only a contrast between urban and rural areas but also how many of the counties that fall in-between will set the tone for the final Senate majority outcome.

In Pennsylvania, Democrats are looking to replicate Joe Biden's 2020 map, which landed him the presidency with wins in the pivot counties of Erie and Northampton. This election cycle, Erie was the site where Lt. Gov. John Fetterman relaunched his Senate campaign after spending the summer recovering from a stroke. Meanwhile, Republican nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz could be eyeing Northampton, located in the swingy northeastern state border where Oz topped his opponents during the May primary.

Both incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock and his Republican challenger, Herschel Walker, will have their sights set on the Atlanta suburbs, but the election is likely to be made on the margins in the exurbs. The counties across the central and northern parts of the state will be where Democrats look to cut further into Republican margins, building on Biden's success there in 2020.

Nevada is more straightforward given that Clark County -- which encompasses Las Vegas -- was home to nearly 70% of the state's total vote in 2020. Any losses for either incumbent Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto or her Republican rival, Adam Laxalt, will have to be made up in Reno's Washoe County.

PHOTO: Workers separate ballots at the Clark County Elections Department in North Las Vegas, Nov. 4, 2022.
Workers separate ballots at the Clark County Elections Department in North Las Vegas, Nov. 4, 2022.
Bridget Bennett/The New York Times via Redux
Power Trip
Hulu

Power Trip

"Power Trip: Those Who Seek Power and Those Who Chase Them" follows 7 young reporters as they chase down candidates in the lead up to the midterms with George Stephanopoulos guiding them along the way.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. "Start Here" begins Tuesday morning with ABC's Jonathan Karl breaking down the races which could determine party control in the House and Senate. Then ABC News' embedded campaign reporters discuss what they've heard from voters on the trail. And, as the Cherokee Nation renews its push for a nonvoting delegate in Congress, we talk to delegate nominee Kim Teehee. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • Voting will be underway nationwide for the midterm elections, with polls opening as early as 6 a.m. ET and closing as early as 6 p.m. ET.
  • President Joe Biden has no publicly scheduled events while Vice President Kamala Harris gives a series of radio interviews.

Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back Wednesday for the latest.

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