Notes From an Election Night

This is an entry for folks who want to have a conversation about the results as they come in. I may make notes in the main entry as thing occur over the evening, so you might check back every now and then to see what’s going on in my head. I’ll be adding to the bottom, not the top, so scroll down.

I’ll start off here at 6:55 pm Eastern by noting two things: First, a friend of mine who was a poll watcher in New Hampshire went out of his way to call me coming back from his duties to note that he pollwatched in a “red” town and that from what he could see it was an Obama blowout. It’s an anecdotal note from a partisan, so take it for what it’s worth on that end, but on the other end he wouldn’t have gone out of his way to call me if he didn’t think something big was happening.

Second, I’ve got a Schadenfreude Pie in the oven. I’ll eat a slice when the election is called. If it’s for Obama, I’ll enjoy every bite. If it’s McCain, of course, I will choke on it. These are the risks we take by baking a Schadenfreude Pie before the results are in. But it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

6:58pm: Also, if you’re wondering where the “I’ve Voted” thread is, it’s here now. Go and let everyone know you’ve voted!

7:08pm: CNN is calling Vermont for Obama and Kentucky for McCain. No surprises with either of those, I’d say.

7:25pm: Schadenfreude Pie out of the oven and cooling.

7:36pm: In case anyone’s wondering, I’m focusing mostly on the presidential race, not the senate and house races, and also, I’m getting my information from probably the same places as everyone else, i.e., CNN, MSNBC, FiveThirtyEight, etc. Please don’t confuse Whatever for an actual news site this evening. I’m just being obsessive.

7:45pm: What I’m not doing: Drinking anymore Coke Zeros today. I’m wired enough. Also, some networks are calling West Virginia for McCain. Also not a surprise.

8:03pm: NBC is calling Pennsylvania for Obama; Fox has Illinois for him as well. What? Illinois going for Obama? Madness! Fox also calling Maryland and Delaware for Obama. Obama in the electoral vote lead at the moment.

8:08pm: Maine, Massachusetts and Connecticut for Obama, say a quorum of networks.

8:12pm: Whoops, missed New Jersey and DC for Obama.

8:15pm: McCain is well loved in Oklahoma: State’s being called for him with a projected 60% of the vote. Tennessee also accrues to McCain.

8:18pm: New Hampshire for Obama, says Fox, ABC and CBS. Looks like my friend was right. Also, Obama’s now in three figures, electorally speaking. 170 to go!

8:26pm: It will be good to remind people at this juncture that although the various networks are calling states, just because a network calls a state doesn’t mean that they can’t admit screwing up later on. Take everything as advisory until you actually see someone give a concession speech.

8:33pm: Athena is sampling the Schadenfreude Pie. She says it is excellent.

8:36pm: Arkansas and Alabama are beginning to be called for McCain.

8:41pm: NBC calls Georgia; everyone else seems to be holding off for the moment.

9:00pm: Now we’ll probably start seeing some action.

9:04pm: Aaaaand there we are. CNN calling North Dakota and Wyoming for McCain; it’s calling New York, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota for Obama. McCain’s at 75, Obama at 173. Less than 100 EVs to go. Oh, wait, I missed Rhode Island for Obama! Well, it’s small.

9:08pm: Fox news calls New Mexico for Obama.

9:14pm: McCain gets his big score: Texas, according to CBS. Also, Kansas (many) and Idaho (Fox).

9:20pm: Can’t help but notice that TalkingPointsMemo and Daily Kos don’t post McCain pickups to their tallies as quickly as they post Obama pickups.

9:21pm: Yes! There goes Ohio for Obama, according to Fox News. Obama at 200 EV if this (and other calls) hold. Well done, Buckeyes.

9:28pm: Ohio being called for Obama by ABC, CBS and NBC as well. Note that on the West coast, California, Oregon and Washington are all likely to go Obama, and the three of them carry 73 electoral votes between them. However, I shall not eat my pie until I see 270 EVs officially called. I just want to be prudent that way.

9:34pm: Louisiana for McCain.

9:37pm: West coast, don’t get cocky and skip out on your vote. Lock this baby down for me.

9:38pm: With 19% of the precincts reporting, my own county, Darke County, has McCain up 64-35. Not that it looks to matter in the overall Ohio vote, for which I am grateful.

9:57pm: South Carolina goes for McCain. No big surprise there.

10:02pm: There goes Iowa for Obama. Somewhere, McCain is figuring out how he’s going to concede.

10:11pm: Utah? For McCain? That’s unpossible!

10:28pm: And there’s Mississippi for McCain. That’s all of the deep south.

10:45pm: Fox News called Virginia for Obama. They’re the only ones doing so right now as far as I can see, but if it sticks, then McCain is definitely toast, because the only way California (55 EVs) goes red is if every single California Democrat and their ballots suddenly spontaneously combust. That said, I’d be very careful about this call; I want to see other nets call it, too.

10:50pm: McCain can console himself for (maybe) losing Virgina by taking South Dakota and Nebraska.

10:56pm: You know, I’m having a good night right about now, but some part of me wishes I was at Grant Park in Chicago.

10:58pm: Also, I don’t mean to brag, but so far the map is looking like how I called it yesterday. Mind you, I wouldn’t mind being wrong, as long as it was in the direction of my candidate.

11:00pm: CNN and AP call Virginia for Obama as well. Rock. And it’s 11! New states to come in soon, I imagine.

11:02pm: And two minutes after its polls closed, NBC calls California for Obama, bringing him to 275 electoral votes.

Ladies and gentlemen: It is time for pie.


The pie, it is good.

11:32: And now I’m done with both the schadenfreude and the pie. McCain gave a gracious speech and it’s time as he said to start coming together. No time to gloat; time to get to work.

11:37pm: Looks like my election map went ker-plooey: Added to Obama’s tally since California: Florida(!), Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Nevada. 338 EVs so far.

11:52pm: Watching CNN for ten minutes reminded why I don’t watch TV news networks on election night anymore. Now watching C-Span, waiting for Obama to speak.

11:57pm: And there he is. Say it with me, people: President Elect Barack Obama. Sounds good, no?

12:15am: Damn, I’m glad I gave this man my vote.

By John Scalzi

I enjoy pie.

282 replies on “Notes From an Election Night”

Definitely very early, and so far they’ve only given numbers for 2 states, and they do say that the numbers are estimations…
I honestly don’t know why I’m so excited about it all, I’m a French living in the UK, and yet I’ve put the BBC on three hours ago :p

I can imagine, all my friends from the US and a fair share from the UK have been completely distracted.

I would love for both my country of birth and the country I live in to be that passionate about their own elections ! It’s distracting and stressing and yet exilharating to have a candidate that can bring out so much hope and passion in the population.

Here I sit, obsessively hitting reload on my favorite suite of political and news sites, knowing that there will be no substantial news for a while, but reloading regardless.

The pie was a brilliant idea. I have all the ingredients, and there’s still time…

Tonight’s workflow:

1) Refresh and see if they’ve called any additional states.

1a) If CNN has called a new state, check against Scalzi’s “My Guess on Tomorrow Night” map. Cackle.

2) If not, just refresh the “Notes from an Election Night” post to see if there are updates.

2a) If there are updates, curse the absolute lack of pie-making ingredients in the house.

3) Repeat steps 1 through 2a as necessary.

I like what is doing with the results – consolidating all the news outlet’s opinions in one place is convenient, but I have several more pages open too.

Who else has good / interesting coverage?

Yeah, the consolidating results is good, but Pollster seems rather… blue. I figure if NPR and Fox agree on something, it’s likely to be true, and there are a number of states where they have McCain with much higher percentages than Pollster has.

I just listened to NBC report that in Palm Beach County, Florida, poll judges are examining absentee ballots one-by-one because of voter confusion due to … the ballot design.


Graphic Design Hell, man.


Also — Chris Matthews just said, re: PA to Obama, that “the second Battle of Gettysburg went the same as the first,” with the Republicans losing. Historians? Anyone? Well, I laughed.

I live in Idaho. There is no way that Idaho will go democratic. No way.

If Charles Manson ran for any position in this state and had “republican” behind his name, he would win.


Well 538 isn’t calling Pennsylvania yet, so I think the people at NBC got a little trigger-happy. As soon as they called it, one of their pundits stated that ‘McCain’s strategy has crashed’, so I’m wondering if its been called early for the benefit of their pundit team.

Hey, John:

From Salon – “For those hungry for a nice schadenfreude orgy, it’s now getting very safe to turn to Fox. Bill Kristol — after Fox projected NH for Obama — just said, very somberly, that it’s going to be a very bad night for Republicans and that between this election and 2006, it’s one of the worst two-year periods for any political party, and Fred Barnes looks like he’s about to cry. And there’s still plenty of bad news for them to come.

The funereal aura is starting to set in over there. Concentrate on how much destruction they’ve sown and it will be quite pleasurable to watch.”

To be served with pie.

Damn, Schadenfreude Pie would have been excellent to go with my Poutin. I figure if this election doesn’t go my way I might as well get used to eating french fries with gravy and cheese. Looks like I may still get to enjoy them with ketchup. In any case, gotta focus, can’t get cocky before the end game.

Crucially, no state won by Bush has gone Obama’s way yet.

I think CNN jumped the shark with the interview-by-hologram. Wolf Blitzer gazing raptly at a holo-politico does not = Luke lusting for a flickering holo-Leia.

Ugh, I hope I get to stay in America. Poutin was ok, but I couldn’t eat it daily. I’m suprised my republican state hasn’t called it yet for McCain. Weird.

OH + Kerry States (and he’s not losing any of them …) = Win, barely.

But for more than a bare win …

VA is still close, McCain slightly ahead with 68% of the vote in …

I’m in Virginia and I’m on the edge of my seat. From what I can see on, there’s only a difference of about 33k votes, in McCain’s favor, with 69% reporting. It’s so close. I’m dyin’ ovah heah!

Olbermann on MSNBC just pointed out that Obama has 200 votes on the board. It is pretty likely Obama will take CA, WA, and HA, which gets him to 270 right there.

Right now, McCain has to win every single other state, plus take back something in blue, or he loses.

Well, now that everyone is breathing easier, would you please pray to your particular deity that JUST THIS ONCE, Idaho goes Democrat?

Put out the mojo people.

@Fred #79 – I can’t take it! The difference is down to about 5500 votes at this point, 73% reporting. If they haven’t counted the NoVA precincts yet, then my guess would be Obama will take the state.

I have no fingernails left!

Y’all didn’t think McCain was gonna win this, didja? I’m not an Obama supporter and I’ve had a feeling for two weeks that Obama was gonna take it. So far, everything that McCain needed to break his way, has broken for Obama. It’s all but done because as John noted, when the Left Coast goes for Obama, is it most surely will, then it’s game over.

Given the climate of the country, McCain needed several small miracles, and he’s not gotten them.

Just FYI from Washington, I voted absentee a week ago, drove my wife in to vote this morning, and talked to everyone I know here. Almost everyone told me they voted for Obama.

Of course, I didn’t ask everyone who they voted for. I was primarily just trying to make sure they all got out and voted.

Also from Washington here, and we voted a couple weeks ago by mail. Oregon is an entirely vote-by-mail state; it can’t possibly change based on the votes tonight.

Centre County, PA looks very red, but Pennsylvania is driven by Philly and Pittsburgh, both of which are solidly blue.

I think my county may change over the course of the evening, as only 4% of the votes are in, and Penn State makes up a huge chunk of the population. I hope. I like it when my county goes my way.

Pennsylvania is an interesting microcosm of the country as a whole: urban and liberal on the east and west ends, and rural and conservative in the middle.

Indiana has followed a very similar pattern to Virginia… 85% of the vote counted, Obama only 9,000 votes behind. still 50,000 odd votes left to count in Gary, which has gone 75% for Obama. This one’s gonna be close…

I know it’s not likely, but I’d be so proud of Arizona if we went blue. I AM proud of my East Coasters!!!! Especially since my uncle (living in Maine) is a red-hot Republican who is currently disowning me as I type this. Heh. At LEAST, whatever else happens (and it does look like Obama’s nailed it) we at least have the Senate covered.

@118: This is looking like a college football game where the big school has bussed in a I-AA school, and it’s 24-7 at the half. You’re very confident that you’re gonna win, but if you took your team -38 points, you’re sweating a bit.

I don’t think it’ll be an Obama landslide, but it’s nice to think so… ;->

I was thrilled Ohio was called so early.

And I told you not to worry about Pennsylvania, despite the “steve” who posed here the other day and said that only Philly would go for Obama. Yeah, right. Looks like Obama will win PA by more than the 5% I predicted!

Montana is blue on the CNN map!!!!!!

Nicole, don’t use the word “mandate.” Even though we know Obama knows what it means, we also remember that Bush didn’t. We hope Obama will behave in a much more bipartisan manner than his idiot predecessor.

msnbc just showed Roanoke on a map and I did a double take :)

I still can’t believe I set my alarm for 3 am and am now actually up, awake and being a part of something so historical – live, from the other end of the world… awesome.

@132 DG Lewis: I can tell you that on FNC, their “Electoral Votes” bug in the corner is showing Obama with 220. But as Josh Marshall is noting over at his blog, Fox is trending to call a lot of races early.

Not only did VA go blue but my hometown/county (in the deep south of VA) voted for Obama. I never thought that this would happen! If I had schadenfrude pie I’d eat it now!

I used to live in Mt. Lebanon, an older, upscale town next to Pittsburgh.

In 2000, Bush won by 40 votes there.

In 2004, Kerry won by 1,000 votes.

This year, Obama took the town by 1,500 votes.

This from a town that used to be notoriously Republican!!

When NBC announced Ohio for Obama I swear I heard Scalzi cheering…and I’m down here in Georgia, which unfortunately seems to be stuck on red at the moment, even though the mainly blue metro areas around the cities have not reported in yet. Ugh.

Too bad I’m missing the chocolate chips needed for the pie, or I’d be baking up a storm right now.

You might find this interesting: in a speech recently, Hugo Chavez voiced his support for Barack Obama. Notes of import: 1) He never actually called Obama by name, just by “el hombre negro” (which, according to a South American coworker, is not politically incorrect there). 2) No English-speaking news network has picked up on this. (I listen to a Spanish news podcast every morning).

10:07 here in Texas. 11:07 in Ohio. Fox is now saying that Obama is elected president. 297 Electoral votes. FOX!
An African American commentator was on the verge of tears.

A black man, from Hawaii, Senator from Illinois, is now my President. And I am totally, completely, utterly fine with that.

Congratulations, President Obama. May you have fair winds as you sail the captain of state, and may the next four years be far, far less interesting than the last eight.

Ok Dude.. Its in your hands

You have 4 years to make change. Please do not let this be more political BS.

4 years and there better be change or your ass is out.

I thought it was interesting that ABC said that McCain was pulling similar numbers that Bush was four years ago in all of the states – and yet he was losing states. So it looks like either new voters or more people compelled to vote Democrat made the difference.

I ran out to get a soda about an hour and a half ago. I’ve never seen so many lights on in the tower blocks around my neighborhood. If nothing else, it was just nice to see that so many people cared!

Anyway, I’m happy. I’m Glad Obama got elected.

10:26 Central time. McCain is giving a concession speech that I actually respect. The first words of his this year that I have respected. This is the McCain that so many people have praised and respected. Not that I ever supported him, but it is a real shame it is only now that he is showing what I believe are his true colors.
The crowd is booing, but he is correcting them.
Sarah Palin truly looks like she is about to cry. The first genuine emotion I think I have seen from her in her brief period in the national spotlight.

I agree that McCain’s speech has restored much of the respect for him that I lost during his campaign. I only hope that over the course of the next four years Palin is thoroughly discredited and completely taken out of play as a politician on the national stage.

OMG!! I still haven’t caught my breath. The start of a new era. Wow.

Here in Atlanta they’ve been running the feed from Ebenezer Baptist Church on a split screen. And the rest of the city is going nuts as well, although my neighborhood is quiet at the moment.

Kudos to McCain for a gracious concession speech.

McCain spouting platitudes now is trying to get the toothpaste back in the tube. What his campaign did in the past six weeks in terms of behavior, in terms of raising the darkest fears and playing boogeyman cards over and over again. No, sir. Your words are no good here anymore.

What comes to mind is the scene in “12 Angry Men,” when Ed Begley’s character goes on a racist rant that results in almost everyone getting up and walking away with the exception of E.G. Marshall. When Begley’s character finishes with a desperate plea to listen to him, Marshall replies, “I have. Now sit down and don’t open your mouth again.”

I really don’t know what to say here.

After the last two elections I’m still in the slight-disbelief stage that Barack Hussein Obama is now the President Elect.

… So I’ll just say it looks like IN will go Obama at this point – McCain is out of counties to get votes. NC, MO, and MT … who knows.

Crap.. Cumon California. Don’t be afraid.

Of course I live in a state that would vote 80% on a bill like that if it came up. Be better than UTAH!

Considering the riots that would have followed an Obama loss, McCain was quite gracious in his concession, I doubt he was faking any of those sentiments.

Now the things to watch will be Obama trying to rein in his own party, and whether or not his late run to the middle can be sustained; and how successful the Republican party is in reinventing itself.

Over under on the first Joe Biden gaffe anyone? :-)


“I’ve seen all good people turn their heads each day
so satisfied I’m on my way.

Take a straight and stronger course to the corner of your life.” YES

Racial Barrier Falls as Voters Embrace Call for Change

The New York Times Nov 5, 2008

The Story of America is not yet finished.


I wouldn’t be too worried on prop 8 yet. Look at what happened in Virginia and Indiana – small-town and rural booths report first, so early results are always skewed conservative. If there’s a 5 point or more gap with 50% counted, then we can start worrying properly.

YES!!! WE!!! CAN!!! YES!!! WE!!! CAN!!! YES!!! WE!!! CAN!!! YES!!! WE!!! CAN!!! YES!!! WE!!! CAN!!! YES!!! WE!!! CAN!!! YES!!! WE!!! CAN!!! YES!!! WE!!! CAN!!! YES!!! WE!!! CAN!!! YES!!! WE!!! CAN!!! YES!!! WE!!! CAN!!! YES!!! WE!!! CAN!!! YES!!! WE!!! CAN!!! YES!!! WE!!! CAN!!!

Actually I am a registered Independent, and my ballot this time around was around a 60/40 Democrat/Republican voting split, with one Independent thrown in.
For better or worse, for the next four years Obama is going to be my President. I may not defend him all the time, I may not support him all the time; I will criticize him, argue with him, and will most likely vote against him in 2012 barring some sort of political revelation in the next 4 years that forces me to change my mind and opinion of him (much as Clinton did for me back in 96).
I have no reason to boo Obama…besides, what would my booing him accomplish? It’s not going to make me feel any better about my candidate losing, there’s no catharsis involved there.


“Obama Wins Presidency”

That’s been the footer headline on CBC Newsworld since they called it an hour ago, and I keep staring at those three words in amazement, elation, and a bit of disbelief. But it is real. It really happened.

Congratulations, America.

And may this administration show a smidge more respect to your friendly northern neighbours. =)

‘President Elect Obama’ sounds great, but I’ve already busted out ‘President Obama’. I have quite a few die-hard Republican friends who are greatly upset by President Obama’s victory, so I’m using the term ‘President’ from day one in order to make him seem more legitimate. After all, the title ‘President’ carries enough gravitas to make even President Bush seem legitimate. Only slightly, though.

We have witnessed one of those world events tonight. Such events are typically, unfortunately saddening: 9/11, Princess Di, JFK assassination, etc, but this is one event that will be ingrained in memory forever for another, happier reason.

Let us not forget that McCain has, to the end, carried himself with immense dignity and humility, and his speech tonight proves he is a great American and human. One can only wish he could have been in charge instead of Bush this last eight years.


An object lesson on what? That teh scary libruls will chase off voters? That gay marriage will cause us all to be devoured in a cloud of bees? That assholes are fine compulsarily divorcing happily married couples?

You tell me what it is an object lesson is, cos I can’t quite see it. I’m actually gay, so its not quite as easy for me to treat this as an abstract political lesson. How bout I try to de-marry you from your wife and tell you it isn’t personal, would you think that’s a nice instructive lesson?

Also, what you’re predicting hasn’t happened just yet. It may well, but it’s not certain yet. Right now, I’m going to enjoy Obama’s victory, and hope the 38% of California’s population still to vote manage to make up the 4.6% that the “no” side is behind. If they don’t, well I can be sad tomorrow. Right now, happy.


I think the lesson is obvious to the astute political observer.

Do any Democrats remember 1994?

If they do, they should be seeking to avoid a repeat.

It’s all about overreach, and misperception about mandate. Especially on social issues.

California being California, I am sure a way will be found to protect the constitutional rights of gays. It probably will have to be done under a banner that does not include the word “marriage” in it.

Just back from spontaneous street parties. Random people hugging one another. Vigorous cheering, and the occasional tear-streaked face. Fireworks. And, I swear, a rogue marching band. Ah, what joy.

Now, blessed sleep. As the President Elect said, we’ve got a lot to do.

The Democrats are going to have to come to terms with that “bigotry” if they want to retain the majority they now enjoy. Which is why I warn against overreach in the first place. There will be a strong temptation among the more progressive Democrats to use the current (huge) win as a license to ill. Especially on hot-button issues. Nothing will evaporate those Obama Republican (new word for the new era) votes quicker than turning an election that’s about the economy and the war, into a “mandate” for progressive pet projects.

Last time, it was the Republicans who fell for the “mandate” kool-aid, and it eventually cost them. We’ll see if Democrats can be more nuanced and intelligent, especially with complex and controversial issues like gay marriage.


“The Democrats are going to have to come to terms with that ‘bigotry’ if they want to retain the majority they now enjoy.”

No. One doesn’t come to terms with bigotry. One defeats it. Some fights take longer than others. This one will clearly take a while.

That said, this may be you and me saying the same thing, from different directions.

“It probably will have to be done under a banner that does not include the word “marriage” in it.”

I think this is what most moderates wanted to begin with. They(us) don’t want to have the homosexual lifestyle forced down our throats by the few. They (liberals) are trying to change perception from tolerance to acceptance. And as things stand now acceptance is a huge step away.

I think that America will take a huge step forward with a biracial president in acceptance of African-Americans and their culture. It has been a long time coming. I am a White Christian raised in Tennessee and racial intolerance is just one of those things I never understood. I tend to judge a person on their actions not the color of their skin. Did I support Obama? No. Did I support McCain? No. I did not like either candidates platform.

So…here’s to the next 4 years. I pray they are good ones.


It seems notable that the Republican’s didn’t really suffer at all from claiming a mandate (see 2002, 2004) right until they fucked it up (Katrina, Iraq).

A lovely day in Cincinnati. I not only wake up in a now-blue state, but also a blue US House (Steve Driehaus def. Steve Chabot) and a blue Ohio House district (Connie Pillich def. Virgil Lovitt). w00t!

I just want to say I’m very proud of my two former states (OH and VA) and found my current state (AL) unsurprising.

Also, I shouldn’t watch exciting political returns with just my dog. She was totally uninterested and annoyed when I cheered.

hugh57: hooray!

i woke up in a state with a new female democratic governor (bev perdue), a new female democractic senator (kay hagan, despite – and perhaps even partially because of – libby dole’s desperate attack ads), and – while it’s still too close to call officially – obama ahead by an 0.2 percent margin with 100% of precincts reporting in. kind of amazing to me that this is, actually, still NC… it feels good!

Lisa: That’s good news! I’ve been unable to settle until FiveThirtyEight updates North Carolina and Missouri. I don’t think I’ll be able to calm down until the outcome is completely settled … or (hopefully not) until January 20th, when President Obama takes office. Dear God that’s a thrilling pair of words. President Obama. President Obama. President OBAMA!

I think the folks claiming, essentially, that Obama is our savior are just as wrong as the people claiming that he’s our doom. He’s one man. Granted, he’s going to be a powerful man for the next four years, but the office which he will hold is limited, by design. It’s time we, as individuals, start doing more with less and helping our neighbors more than we have been. And, I’m as guilty as anyone of all those bad things we have, or haven’t, been doing.

All that being said, Mr. Scalzi, sir, I my disagree with your politics, but I cannot argue with your desserts. I do believe that Schadenfruede Pie will be had at Thanksgiving dinner at my house this year. God bless you for that, if nothing else.

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