I've seen this done on a couple of other sites, but let's assume, just for the heck of it, that FHQ is right and Obama wins the presidency by a 338-200 count in the electoral college. Well, how would Tuesday night play out if each of the 50 states plus DC broke the way our map shows? If you use the poll closing times that The Green Papers has posted, then the evening would likely progress something like below.
[Why post one map with all the different times when you can post 10 of them?]
First let's make a few basic assumptions:
1) All strong states are able to be called as soon as the polls close in those states.
2) All lean states have an hour lag before they are called.
3) All toss up states with an FHQ average over 2 points have a three hour lag before they are called.
4) All toss up states with an FHQ average under two points have a four hour lag before they are called.
One hour before the first polls close, we'll start with a blank slate.
Indiana and Kentucky start the night off with 6pm closings in the Eastern time zone areas of their states. I won't do this for any of the other states, but I'm going to assume that the networks will want something to talk about early. Even without all the polls in Kentucky closed, they'll call the Bluegrass state for McCain. Indiana? Well, it'll be a bit longer.
Though Georgia may make it into the lean area after this final day, it is still a strong state here. As such Georgia and South Carolina join Kentucky as early states going for McCain. Add Vermont to Obama's tally at 7pm and put Virginia into the wait and see category. Like Indiana an hour earlier, Florida has a first wave of closings in the Eastern time zone. The count at 7pm: 31-3, McCain.
At 7:30pm Ohio and West Virginia close their polls. If 2004 and the primaries earlier this year are any indication, then there will likely be an extension of the polling hours in the Buckeye state. However, both of these states are outside of the strong category and will have a wait before being called for either candidate.
If 7pm brought a mini-wave of closings, 8pm brings the first big wave of the evening. Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia (after the hour lag) move into the Obama column, opening up a small lead for the Illinois senator. McCain adds a couple of states from the Deep South and Oklahoma. Missouri, meanwhile is placed in the wait and see category for the time being.
Thirty minutes later, Arkansas moves into the red for McCain and North Carolina holds off until later.
At 9pm, New York and Texas cancel each other out, but Obama adds Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Wisconsin while McCain gets Arizona, Louisiana and a handful of mountain west and prairie states. Colorado's polls close, too, but a call will wait for an hour. Obama's tally approaches 200 and McCain breaks 100 electoral votes.
At 10pm Obama adds Colorado and Iowa as McCain grabs Kansas. Polls close in Montana and Nevada as well, but both will have to wait for a call as a lean state and toss up state respectively.
Already at 209, Obama adds the west coast states at 11pm but Florida and Ohio also break for the Illinois senator. That big rush of electora votes puts Obama over the top and he becomes the 44th president.
At midnight, Alaska's polls close and brings the day to a close with only a few polling sites still open in the Last Frontier and Nevada and North Carolina outstanding. Both go for McCain in the wee hours of November 5.
The Electoral College Map (11/3/08)
FHQ vs. The Talking Heads
The Electoral College Map (11/2/08)