At 8PM ET, polls will also close in Massachusetts, where Democrats in the 5th Congressional District will pick a nominee for the special election to replace Ed Markey, who was elected to the Senate earlier this year. In this strongly blue district, the Democratic nominee is almost assured of victory in the general. The candidates are state Sens. Katherine Clark, Karen Spilka, and Will Brownsberger, state Rep. Carl Sciortino, and Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian.
4:12 PM PT (Darth Jeff): We have a good chunk of votes counted in HD 36. With a little over 12,000 counted, Dem Amanda Murphy leads GOPer Bill Gunter by a narrow 51.19% to 48.81%. Unclear how much of the district is reporting.
4:19 PM PT (Darth Jeff): Almost 75 percent in and this one remains tight. Murphy leads 50.6 to 49.4.
4:20 PM PT (Darth Jeff): 83 percent in: Murphy's up 50.71 to 49.29.
4:22 PM PT (Darth Jeff): Our preliminary results say Obama won this district 52-47 in 2012.
4:22 PM PT (Darth Jeff): Gunter needs roughly 54 percent of what's left to win.
4:23 PM PT (Darth Jeff): 86 percent reporting: Murphy 50.69 to 49.31. Close but a little better.
4:25 PM PT (Darth Jeff): 91.43 percent in and Murphy's up 50.79 to 49.21. Narrow but Gunter has very little breathing room.
4:26 PM PT (Darth Jeff): Seriously, where is this quick Florida counting every other election ever?!
4:27 PM PT (Darth Jeff): 33 out of 35 precincts in: Murphy 50.81 to 49.21. This one looks over.
4:30 PM PT (Darth Jeff): Gunter needs about 64 percent from the two remaining precincts to win. Not very likely.
4:40 PM PT (David Jarman): If (or when) the Republicans lose this race, it won't be for lack of trying. Turns out RPOF spent more than $250,000 on the race. (The state Democratic Party spent about $78,000, much of that as in-kind contributions.)
4:49 PM PT (David Jarman): In case you're wondering about Florida recount laws (since the margin is only about 300 votes right now), the standard for an automatic paper ballot recount is a margin of 0.5% or less. The lead is 50.8-49.2, though, so we're out of recount territory.
4:52 PM PT (David Jarman): Still waiting on an official call, or word from the last precincts, but Mike Fasano (the retiring GOP incumbent, who crossed party lines to endorse Murphy) has tweeted that Gunter has conceded to Murphy.
4:55 PM PT (David Jarman): Now 34 of 35 precincts in: panic time, because the Murphy lead dropped from 299 to 297! She's at 50.80%.
5:03 PM PT (David Jarman): We'll pop in once we get a call in Florida, but now that the newsreel and cartoon are over, let's move on to the main event: the Dem primary in MA-05, where polls just closed.
5:15 PM PT (David Jarman): We're done in Florida's 36th District; congratulations to Amanda Murphy, who picks up the seat for the Democrats. She wins 50.81-49.19%, or 9,565-9,260.
5:18 PM PT (David Jarman): The margin in the Florida House is down to 75 GOP, 45 Democrats! (A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.)
5:21 PM PT (David Jarman): And now we our first 2 precincts reporting in MA-05 (out of 243). Will Brownsberger has a decisive 53% lead, but bear in mind that one of those precincts is in Belmont, which is Brownsberger's home turf. Koutoujian is in 2nd with 26%.
5:29 PM PT (David Jarman): Here's some helpful data on which towns the various candidates represent in the legislature, so you can mentally smooth out the huge totals they get in their hometowns (which we're currently seeing with Brownsberger). Brownsberger's district is Belmont and Watertown. Clark represents Malden, Melrose, Stoneham, and Winchester. Spilka represents Ashland, Framingham, Holliston, and Natick. And Sciortino represents parts of Malden and Medford. (Which means that if Clark wins, Sciortino can probably console himself with a promotion to the state Senate.)
5:39 PM PT (jeffmd): With 10% reporting now, Koutoujian is out in front with 39%, Clark in second with 23%. Spilka's at 18, and Sciortino's at 7.
5:41 PM PT (David Jarman): And now we're up to 54 out of 243 reporting. Clark's catching up again: it's Koutoujian at 31, Clark 29, Spilka 17, Sciortino 11, and Brownsberger 9.
5:45 PM PT (David Jarman): Lots of see-sawing: with 67 precincts in (28%), now it's Koutoujian 32, Clark 24, Brownsberger 19, Spilka 12, and Sciortino 10.
5:49 PM PT (David Jarman): Now up to 38% reporting: Koutoujian at 27, Clark at 23, Brownsberger 18, Sciortino 17, and Spilka at 12.
5:52 PM PT (David Jarman): 44% reporting, and now it's neck and neck between Koutoujian and Clark... only 9 votes separate them (7,939-7,930). Koutoujian and Clark at 25, Brownsberger at 18, Sciortino 17, and Spilka 11.
5:53 PM PT (David Jarman): Interesting note: Spilka is getting the greatest loyalty among her own legislative constituents: 78%. However, she only represents 15% of all of MA-05, so that explains why she's lagging.
5:56 PM PT (David Jarman): And now Clark has moved past Koutoujian into the lead. (Koutoujian's base from when he was in the legislature, Waltham, has mostly reported, so he doesn't have much juice left. Koutoujian got 74% there.) With 48% in, it's Clark 25, Koutoujian 24, Sciortino 17, Brownsberger 16, Spilka 14.
6:00 PM PT (jeffmd): 55% reporting now, and Clark continues to hold a narrow edge over Koutoujian, 24-23. Spilka's at 19, Sciortino 16, and Brownsberger 15.
6:03 PM PT (jeffmd): Clark's hometown of Melrose is reporting now, where she's getting 80% so far. This widens her lead over Koutoujian to about 3%.
6:08 PM PT (jeffmd): Here's how each candidate is doing in his/her district (Koutoujian's old HD, in his case), with the percentage reporting in parentheses:
Brownsberger - 62.7% (45% in)
Clark - 64.1% (47% in)
Koutoujian - 72.8% (63% in)
Sciortino - 47.4% (50% in)
Spilka - 66.7% (100% in)
6:12 PM PT (jeffmd): 60% reporting overall now; Clark continues to lead Koutoujian 27-22, with Spilka, Sciortino, and Brownsberger behind at 18, 16, and 15, respectively.
6:14 PM PT (jeffmd): Clark's looking pretty good to win this thing - one quarter of what's left outstanding is in her SD.
6:20 PM PT (jeffmd): Interestingly, Koutoujian wins the town of Revere 40-33. Revere is one of 3 towns not represented by any of the candidates.
Overall, it's still 27-23 Clark over Koutoujian with 69% reporting.
6:24 PM PT (jeffmd): 76% reporting now, and Clark's advantage continues to widen, now 28-23. Sciortino's creeping up on Spilka in the (purely academic) battle for third, 214 votes behind.
6:27 PM PT (jeffmd): Two big towns still have nothing reporting - Cambridge and Malden, 57% of precincts outstanding. Cambridge isn't in anyone's constituency but may be strong for Sciortino; Malden is in both Clark's SD and Sciortino's HD.
6:31 PM PT (jeffmd): Koutoujian has one card left to play from his old HD, Watertown, 19% of precincts left. It's also in Brownsberger's SD, but Koutoujian is cleaning house with 57% there so far.
6:35 PM PT (jeffmd): And the AP calls it for Katherine Clark, who will go on to the general in this 65-33 Obama, 59-41 Warren, 65-35 Markey district.
6:38 PM PT (jeffmd): That last batch - Malden, in Clark's SD, really put her over the top. Her advantage over Koutoujian exploded to 8% at 30-22, which puts her out of Ben-Quayle-small-plurality territory.
6:50 PM PT (jeffmd): With everything reporting, the finishing order is Clark 32, Koutoujian 22,
Sciortino 16, Brownsberger 15, Spilka 13.
If Clark wins in December, there'll be a special for her Senate seat. And if she is replaced by a sitting state Representative....
6:52 PM PT (jeffmd): With that, we're going to call it a night. Thanks for tuning in. We'll be back tomorrow night to cover the NJ-Sen special. (...which could have been tonight, or better yet, in November to coincide with NJ-Gov, but Chris Christie...)