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Election night may just be the beginning

Jordan Price

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Election 2014 has been an odd paradox: chaotic and exciting yet consistent and static. Some races (like Kansas & Georgia for Democrats as well as Colorado & Iowa for Republicans) have become or remained unexpectedly competitive. However, the overall picture of the 2014 midterms has been remarkably stable; Republicans have continually been slightly favored to win control of the Senate. But how will we know, before all the results are in, whether the GOP does or does not translate that advantage into an actual majority? That’s the purpose of this article; this is your “What To Watch For On Election Night” guide.

7:00 P.M. CLOSINGS: Keep an eye on Kentucky and Virginia. Georgia is probably the most competitive 7 p.m. state but counts slowly. Whether it goes to a runoff or not, we probably will not get a projection in Georgia for a few hours. Kentucky will likely be close, too, and may take a couple of hours to project. Virginia is NOT competitive this year, but watch Sen. Mark Warner (D)’s margin; if he wins in a blowout (20 percent or more), it might indicate that Democrats are set to over perform expectations in other races. If his race is close, Democrats are probably in for a very bad – and very long – night.

7:30 P.M. CLOSINGS: West Virginia will be quickly called as the first GOP pickup of the night, but North Carolina is the state to watch. It is going to be close and will probably take a long time to project a winner, but if Sen. Kay Hagan (D) winds up losing, it becomes much harder for the Democrats to hold a Senate majority.

8:00 P.M. CLOSINGS: Most states in this hour are not competitive, but keep a close watch on New Hampshire. The GOP does not need to pick up the Granite State seat to win a majority, but if Scott Brown (R) is running stronger than expected, it will be another sign that Election Night may run late into Wednesday morning.

8:30 P.M. CLOSINGS: Arkansas will close at 8:30, where Sen. Mark Pryor (D) is consistently behind in the polls and is fighting for his political life. Arkansas will be close, but if Sen. Pryor manages to pull out an upset and hold on to his seat, the GOP path to 51 seats becomes more complicated.

9:00 P.M. CLOSINGS: The most important states to watch here are Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana and South Dakota. Louisiana will almost certainly go to a runoff, but Colorado and Kansas are extremely close and could easily decide which party wins control of the Senate. South Dakota is a somewhat hectic three-way race; the GOP is favored, but if Mike Rounds (R) has not been called the winner within an hour, the GOP should probably be worried. Michigan and Minnesota appeared competitive for a while but should be called relatively quickly for the Democrats.

10:00 P.M. CLOSINGS: One word: Iowa. The Hawkeye State’s Senate contest this year is one of the closest in the nation and looks to be a bellwether of the national political environment this year. Iowa might not be called for several hours after the polls close. If Democrats win Iowa, they can breathe a sigh of relief for keeping their path to a majority alive. If Republicans win Iowa on top of the other states in which they have surged recently (especially Colorado), the Democrat path will go from “very difficult” to “nearly impossible.”

1:00 A.M. CLOSINGS: There are no competitive races closing at 11 p.m., so the last big race to close will be Alaska at 1:00 a.m. The polling in Alaska shows a modest Republican lead, but Alaska polls are notoriously unreliable. We probably will not know the winner in Alaska until late Wednesday morning.

One final note: Unless the GOP wins nearly every competitive state on the board or the Democrats pull some upsets in a number of states, we may not know who controls the Senate for months. Louisiana’s near-certain runoff will be in December while a Georgia runoff would take place in January. Add the possibility of recounts in super-close states, and Election Night itself may just be the beginning.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner

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Election night may just be the beginning