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If you're like me, nine days from today you'll be unable to do anything except perch yourself on the edge of the Internet waiting for election results. Picture yourself Tuesday evening (or late afternoon on the left coast).  The MSM will be babbling inanely about Republican Shock and Awe.  You'll be hoping they are wrong, but how will you be able to tell?

Here I provide a look at key House and Senate races in states that have the earliest poll closing times, from Kentucky at 6:00 pm ET (3:00 pm PT), to West Virginia and Ohio at 7:30 pm ET (4:30 PM PT).  As the results settle down for these key races, we should get a pretty good feel for whether November 2nd, 2010 will be a replay of 1994, or whether Democrats will have rallied enough to prevent Armageddon.

The Democratic candidate is always listed first.  All poll closing times given are Eastern.  Competitive races are taken from Nate Silver's listing of House races with significant switchover possibilities, and his assessment of the probability of the Democrat winning each race is given.  I've bolded the very tightest and most interesting races.

States With Earliest Poll Closing Times:

6:00 pm : Kentucky
7:00 pm : Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshrire
7:30 pm : West Virginia, Ohio

The Tight and/or Interesting Races:

6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

 Senate: Conway vs. Paul (Kentucky contains two time zones)
   Silver: 11% D
   Latest poll (Mason-Dixon): 43%-48%
 KY-06:  Chandler vs. Barr (6:00 PM)
   Silver: 54% D
   Latest poll (Mason-Dixon): 48%-44%

We probably won't know if Conway has a real shot until the last round of polling is released the day before the election.  If Conway does win the Republicans can write off any serious chance of taking the Senate.  KY-06 is a critical toss-up race.  If the Democrats can't win this one, you can say goodbye to Speaker Pelosi and hello, Speaker Boehner.

7:00 PM

 Governor: Sink vs. Scott
   Silver: 49% D
   Latest poll (Susquehanna): 45% - 45%
 FL-02: Boyd vs. Southerland (8:00 PM, Panhandle)
   Silver: 10% D
   Latest poll (Susquehanna): 38% - 50%
 FL-08: Grayson vs. Webster
   Silver: 25% D
   Latest poll (Susquehanna): 36% - 43%
 FL-22: Klein vs. West
   Silver 33% D
   Latest poll (Susquehanna): 44% - 47%
 FL-24: Kosmas vs. Adams
   Silver: 19% D
   no non-partisan polls.
 FL-25: Garcia vs. Rivera
   Silver: 16% D
   no non-partisan polls.
   Latest partisan poll: 40% - 33% (D)
FL-25 is rated a tossup by Swing State Project and 'Lean Republican' by Cook.  It's one of just a few pickup opportunities for Democrats, although Nate Silver doesn't think much of that notion.  If Sink does well, that means Democrats are coming out to vote with or without their enthusiasm, and the much-touted 'enthusiasm gap' could end up being irrelevant.

 GA-02: Bishop vs. Keown
   Silver: 62% D
   no non-partisan polling
 GA-08: Marshall vs. Scott
   Silver: 36% D
   no non-partisan polling

 SC-05: Spratt vs. Mulvaney
   Silver: 51% D
   no recent or non-partisan polling

 VA-02: Nye vs. Rigell
   Silver: 20% D
   Latest poll (Penn Schoen Berland): 36% - 42%
   Latest partisan poll (R): 41% - 46%
 VA-05: Perriello vs. Hurt
   Silver: 8% D
   Latest poll (Roanoke): 40% - 46%
   Latest partisan poll (D): 46% - 47%
 VA-09: Boucher vs. Griffith
   Silver: 79% D
   Latest poll (SurveyUSA): 51% - 41%
 VA-11: Connolly vs. Fimian
   Silver: 77% D
   no non-partisan polling

Perriello is a progressive favorite. If VA-05 turns out to be a close race as many are predicting, that's good news for Democrats.  If Perriello wins it or it goes intro extra innings, that should be amazing news for Democrats.

7:00 pm or later

NEW HAMPSHIRE (locals have the option to keep polls open past 7:00 pm):
 Senate: Hodes vs. Ayotte
   Silver: 6% D
 NH-01: Shea-Porter vs. Guinta
   Silver: 11% D
   Latest poll (Penn Schoen Berland): 42% - 47%
 NH-02: Kuster vs. Bass
   Silver: 52% D
   Latest poll (UNH): 43% - 36%

NH-02 is one of those toss-up races that Democrats must win if they are to keep the House.  However, if I recall correctly from the New Hampshire primary back in 2008, election reports are painfully slow coming in.  Go Kuster!  And not in the Little Big Horn sense.

7:30 pm

 Senate: Manchin vs. Raese
   Silver: 51% D
   Latest poll (Rasmussen): 43% - 50%
 WV-01: Oliverio vs. McKinley
   Silver: 37% D
   Latest poll (Penn Schoen Berland): 42% - 39%

This Senate race might could easily decide control of the Senate.  If the Democrats win it, it will be very tough for the Republicans to win 50 seats, let alone 51.

 Governor: Strickland vs. Kaish
   Silver: 16% D
   Latest poll (CNN): 48% - 47%
 OH-01: Driehaus vs. Chabot
   Silver: 7% D
   Latest Poll (SurveyUSA): 41% - 53%
 OH-06: Wilson vs. Johnson
   Silver: 50% D
   no non-partisan polling
 OH-15: Kilroy vs. Stivers
   Silver: 9% D
   Latest poll (Penn Schoen Berland): 38% - 47%
 OH-16: Boccieri vs. Renacci
   Silver: 23% D
   Latest poll (Penn Schoen Berland): 39% - 42%
 OH-18: Space vs. Gibbs
   Silver: 63% D
   no non-partisan polling

While the Ohio Senate seat has long been written off, the Governor's race has recently turned competitive.  If Strickland pulls it off that probably means good news for some of these House races.  There are a lot of interesting races here, with OH-06 being another of these key toss-ups.


Summary of Races to Watch Closely:

 Kentucky: Senate, KY-06
 Florida: Governor, FL-22
 Georgia: GA-02, GA-08
 South Carolina: SC-05
 Virginia: VA-05
 New Hampshire: NH-02
 West Virginia: Senate, WV-01
 Ohio: Governor, OH-06, OH-16, OH-18

There is always the possibility that control of the House and the Senate will be on knife-edge as the night wears on.  It is quite possible that we will have to await results from Nevada, California, Washington or even Alaska before we will know who will control  the Senate.  As for the House, there is even the possibility that who will be Speaker will come down to a single seat in Hawaii, HI-01.  Polls in Hawaii will not close until midnight Eastern time!


Originally posted to jpmassar on Sun Oct 24, 2010 at 10:53 AM PDT.

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