Live Blogging The Presidential Election Returns

It’s 6:30, and I welcome everyone to the Presidential Power Election Night Live Blog.  As always, I invite everyone to join in via the comments section.   Now that the software glitch (that would be me), my comments should post on your screen as I post them. We’ll be heading over to the Karl Rove Crossroads Superpac Cafe (Ok, just the Crossroads Cafe) in a moment, where I’ll be joined by my colleague and co-host Bert Johnson, and where I’ll have my crack research team – Anna Esten, Sarah Pfander and Owen Witek on the computers crunching the election returns all night long.  Danny Zhang – the fourth member of the team – is on the ground in Colorado, a swing state, where I hope he’ll sent us some reports.

But first – some bad news. They aren’t serving beer at the Cafe tonight!  Damn you, Karl Rove!

Matthew Dickinson November 7, 201212:49 am

Ok, we’ve closed the Crossroads Cafe down, and I’ll be closing shop tonight with one last warning: one the way home I already heard the dreaded “M” word being bandied about by the talking heads at NPR: yep, Obama won a mandate. The last president to claim this was George W. Bush, and his mandate got him exactly nothing from Congress. Let’s be clear – Obama’s support is diminished from 2008. This was a vote for the status quo, at best – it was no mandate. But I’ll develop this point further tomorrow.

For now, thanks for all your participation!

Matthew Dickinson November 7, 201212:05 am

Alright, we are closing shop. I’ll pick up the feed at home – until Colorado is called, this isn’t over…

Matthew Dickinson November 7, 201212:02 am

There are a hard corps group of students here who are worried that it is not definitely over…..we are closing shop, but moving to a classroom to continue watching the live feed.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 201211:55 pm

Son of a gun. Romney is ahead in Ohio – is Rove right?

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 201211:37 pm

Apparently Karl Rove is still claiming that Ohio shouldn’t be called – he did this in 2000 – and then he was right! Likely that Romney will not concede tonight, pending final count of provisional ballots in Florida and definitive Ohio results.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 201211:25 pm

Now what I really want is for Obama to win 50.3% of the popular vote, and I will go to sleep a happy political scientist!

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 201211:21 pm

Just got the students to chant, “poli sci, poli sci, poli sci” – I’m very satisfied tonight. My colleagues did well. I feel bad for the conservative pundits, however – they are getting pummeled.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 201211:19 pm

CNN finally calls it, and the Rove cafe erupts

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 201211:17 pm

The forecast models have hit every single state so far correctly.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 201211:16 pm

Ohio, Ohio1 That’s it folks – the big winner tonight? Political science forecast models.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 201211:13 pm

So one of our students who canvassed in Colorado is saying that Team Obama is reporting that they have won Colorado. Meanwhile, conservative pundits are getting savaged on the internet.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 201211:02 pm

So, right now Obama is up by about 30,000 in Florida. Libertarian Gary Johnson is drawing 1% of the vote – but that’s about 40,000. Is he the new Ralph Nader?

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 201210:47 pm

To keep our audience during our lull, we are asking presidential trivia questions.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 201210:43 pm

Interesting (and perhaps troublesome) that CNN is not following through on the Wisconsin projection for Obama. It wouldn’t be the first time a network has prematurely called a state. Of course, CNN is always the most cautious state.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 201210:38 pm

Finally a post gets out! Just took my audience through the demographics at the national level – no surprise. Romney’s support comes among older, wealthier, white people – Obama does better among minorities, lower-income voters and women.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 201210:36 pm

Florida looks really tight – remember, if Romney loses it, you can turn out the lights. But even if he wins, he still has to run the table with the remaining toss up states.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 201210:19 pm

The Karl Rove Cafe has filled to capacity – students are poised to claim victory for Obama.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 201210:16 pm

I’m sorry about the slow posts, but my research assistants have the hardwire links around me, so I’m relying on wifi and the feed is soooooo

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 201210:16 pm

So, by my back of the envelope calculations, Romney must win everyone of the remaining swing states – that’s Florida, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa North Carolina and Iowa if he is going to take this.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20129:56 pm

Two key states coming up at 10: Nevada and Iowa. Obama is a slight favorite to win both.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20129:53 pm

There is no real way that Romney can win this if he doesn’t win Florida – with 84% in, he’s down by 15,000 votes.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20129:35 pm

And New Hampshire! Another potential Romney pickup, but one we projected that Romney would lose. All this means his alternative paths to victory are dwindling, but I can’t say any of this is a surprise.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20129:34 pm

Onward Wisconsin! It just got called for Obama – again, no surprise here, but reassuring that our forecast models are accurate.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20129:29 pm

So, exit polls are suggesting Romney is doing better among women than did McCain relative to Obama, and better among men.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20129:21 pm

So, national exit polls are showing a sizeable gender gap – Obama wins women by 10%.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20129:11 pm

Our internet has slowed to a crawl. Sarah Stroup is asking me a question but she is sending it by telegraph

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20129:06 pm

Wisconsin should break for Obama – CNN is playing it conservative, but exit polls indicate Obama should take it – but of course we don’t want to call a race on the basis of exit polls.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20129:04 pm

Lots of tweeting that Obama is running behind where he should be in specific places in Virginia, like Arlington – about 10% behind.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20128:56 pm

Coming up on 9 – Wisconsin and Colorado are the two states.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20128:48 pm

Iowa and Colorado don’t report until 10 – Romney has a real shot at Colorado, but Iowa may be a stretch. So far, very few surprises tonight – actually, no surprises.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20128:47 pm

It’s easy to get excited/scared by looking at raw vote totals. so, for example, both Allen and Romney seem to be doing well in Virginia. But that reflects differences in reporting rates.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20128:31 pm

Once again we had a period with the internets down. Where’s Al Gore when you need him.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20128:15 pm

Looks like the national exit polls number won’t be released until 8:30 – that should give us a preliminary look at the national vote.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20128:12 pm

I just showed a slide of our political science forecast models – the structural ones that collectively suggest Obama would win about 50.3% of the two-party popular vote (average) and 50.6% the median vote. Those projection are looking good right now – that’s science!

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20128:07 pm

On the other hand, Obama isn’t overperforming the polls – neither New Hampshire, nor Pennsylvania has been called, which they might have been had the numbers looked really good for him.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20128:05 pm

So far, the results are matching up almost exactly with what our state-based polls are suggesting. That bodes well for Obama – but the night is young.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20127:56 pm

We are losing internet intermittently here, so be patient. Fire marshals just came through to clear the stairs. The place is jammed.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20127:54 pm

AS the polls close at 8, we should see a jump in electoral college votes for both candidates. But the big one to watch is Pennsylvania. If CNN can call that at 8, that’s good news for Obama, because it means Romney wasn’t able to cut the gap there despite a late polling blitz. If they can’t call it, that’s good news for Romney.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20127:40 pm

We are also keeping an eye on the key Senate races tonight. Remember, the Democrats currently hold a 6-seat advantage if you count the independents Lieberman and our own Bernie Sanders. So Republicans need to pick up four to gain a majority.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20127:32 pm

Ok, polls closed in Ohio and North Carolina – and as expected, they are too close to call. Remember, don’t overreact to exit polls – they are adjusted as the night goes on.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20127:31 pm

Indiana goes for Romney – this is one of a the states Obama won by expanding the map in 2008, but which polling indicated he would lose in this cycle. So this is not a surprise.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20127:21 pm

Next states up are Ohio, West Virgina and North Carolina – two of them are key battleground states.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20127:04 pm

Ok, we are set up at the Crossroads Cafe – and ready to go on stage. Good early turnout, and they just sent up a cheer as Vermont comes in for Obama.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20126:48 pm

Also, a shout out to the Middlebury Republican and Democrats who helped organize this event, and who will be providing me with free beer….er…coffee, for most of the night.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20126:46 pm

Excellent – our international audience is tuned in – Midd Prof Jeff Cason, who will be on Italian television later this week, is set to give us the Italian view on the craziness. Glad to have you aboard Jeff!

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20126:45 pm

All – I’m heading over to the Karl Rove cafe – I’ll be off line for a few minutes. See you at the other side.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20126:44 pm

Meanwhile, there’s already been some exit polls released – and some howlers on CNN. Wolf just asked David Plouffe, Obama’s key campaign adviser, that if Obama loses, does it all go back to the first debate? No Wolf, it does not.

Matthew Dickinson November 6, 20126:39 pm

That means my offer to buy a round of drinks for everyone at the Cafe if my prediction is off suddenly seems far less of a risk.


  1. Since there is no real news to report, one thing to note about how Italians view our election: they can’t possibly conceptualize how important we think debates are. Rhetoric and argument are important here, but they find it fascinating that we place so much emphasis on the drama of the debate. Which, in light of the fundamentals, and the actual unfolding of the race, we shouldn’t.

  2. Hi Prof. Dickinson –

    I don’t have too much info about turnout in NV. Been out knocking on doors all day, about to go for a last push. Haven’t heard anything about long lines yet.

  3. Speaking of Italians’ impression of the craziness: Italian TV crews visited the Harvard campus yesterday and were grilling students about who they wanted to vote for. Here’s a clip of their report (which I showed my beginning Italian students in class today!)
    Their take: Obama seems more “simpatico”, Romney more “preparato” in the eyes of the college students.
    In 2008, when I was living there, the slant was decidedly pro-Obama in the media – looking forward to hearing what Prof. Cason has to report from this election!

  4. we’re getting close to 7pm projections! a question of ballot challenges….for Ohio (provisionals)…

  5. So someone at my table just made the point about a lack of turnout in some northeast states due to Sandy….how much do you think that will affect the popular vote, at all, enough to make the electoral/popular split?

  6. Sarah–just a quick response here, and will have more to report later, but most Italians that I have spoken with have more or less fallen out of love with Obama, but are still happier with him than the alternative. Not that they think it will be a repeat of Bush (2), necessarily, but they have a more favorable opinion about Obama, to be sure–

  7. Checking in from Maine!! Looking forward to a great night. Hosting a home election party. We will keep people up to date on Question 1 (Same-sex marriage)

  8. For those watching CNN, don’t you love the Wolf/King interaction? Doesn’t it seem almost like it was Jon Stewart?

  9. Angus is a SHOE in for sure!! Yes on 1 is looking very good. This is historical as it would be the first time a people’s initiative passed same sex marriage.

  10. CNN is playing it very conservative tonight – they didn’t call Mississippi or Alabama. So, I’m not suprised they didn’t call Pennsylvania for Obama. I don’t think we can take it as a positive for Romney.

  11. Jeff- delayed reaction, but John King is a terrible presenter, monotone, too fast. We’re flipping channels, can’t quite find a feed that we like.

  12. Yes, Sarah, and it’s almost jokey, when they they look at the numbers when you have 1 or 5 % of the vote reported…how stupid is that?

  13. I am fairly sure Obama is going to carry FL looking at county by county. He is up by 150k currently and is likely to pick up another 40k in Miami-Dade, 90k in Broward, 40k in Palm Beech, giving him 320k lead in total which will be very difficult for Romney to overcome with likely less than 1 million votes left to count outside those 3 counties.

  14. If tickets aren’t splitting by state….is that a problem for the Dems moving west in the Senate?

  15. I’m not as confident as you – Romney is doing what he needs to do to keep this race at 50%.

  16. Matt – I’d like some historical context. Watching the many commentators on NBC, Fox, PBS, the comments appear vacuous. What did this sort of real time analysis look like 10 or 20 years ago? How have cable and the internet changed this ritual of waiting for election results?

  17. FL will be within 50k.. 7 million votes in still tied (8.2 million in 2008). Obama still has 100k+ that he will gain in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beech.

    Also some votes left to count in Democratic leaning Volusia and Orange counties.

    There will be 500k votes or left to count outside those counties, with Obama leading by 100k+.

    It will be very close, but still think Obama eeks out by 0-50k.

    If FL is that close, that bodes well for obama elsewhere.

  18. Sarah – the most visible impact is that our students are feeding me vote returns, often in real time. this is a far cry from the days when we watched Uncle Walter feed us the news. The second big development is that the mapping graphics really allow us to see where the vote is coming in, which makes it much easier to forecast what’s happening with the aggregate vote.

  19. Andrew – Florida is supposed to be close – most polls put it as a dead heat. So I wouldn’t read this as anything but reconfirmation that the popular vote, nationally, is going to be really close. And Romney did really well in the early vote there.

  20. Obama up by 42k now in FL, still 200k+ votes in Miami-Dade, and 100k in Palm Beech to count.

    Also some left in Orange and Vilusia.

    Agree that things are going close to expectation – which is good for Obama.

  21. So there are demographics now…but in terms of bigger tent…for future years, what does it say about the future elections…? If growing demographics are growing? 2016?

  22. County math in OH looks good for Obama too. I get Obama +300k with 1 million left to go after adding in the remaining large Obama strongholds. Obama would probably end up with a ~100k margin (1.7%).

  23. Common theme on NBC and ABC. David Plouffe is the new moneyball guy. FL GOP insiders impressed with Obama ground game.

  24. Andrew – I don’t think Florida gets called tonight – too many provisional ballots. And Romney likely won’t conceded until tomorrow.

  25. Tarsi – Great question. One thing I’ve learned is not to make projections in the giddy aftermath of an election victory. I saw the same thing in 2008 – a Democratic realignment. Two years later Republicans were in charge of the House.

  26. I don’t think Tarsi is saying Dems will be in power forever.

    But 2016 demographics are impossible for the *current* GOP.

  27. Adam – Again, you think so now, but the same argument was made in 2008 – Republicans were the party of the white, senior, rural voters. That declaration proved premature…

  28. The demographics today are not so different from 2010 when the GOP won in a landslide. The Dems barely squeeked out a win for President and Senate, and the GOP still won the House. I do think an improving economy the next 4 years and the demographics favor the Dems.

    FL and OH are over.

    The only significant Romney votes left in FL are in Brevard, Lee, and Seminole. Obama should receive a near equal number from Miami-Dade, and is currently up by 50k. It should end up 0-60k for Obama, most likely ~30k. Maybe it will come down to counting provisional ballots.

    OH is more certain. Currently up 23k. Obama should pick up 40k more from Cuyahoga. Another 40k from Lucas. 20k from Summit and Trumbull. That’s a 120k lead with 300-500k votes remaining to count. I was a little surprised the networks called it so early but I still think Obama wins it by around 100k.

  29. Adam – That’s true, but the point is that low turnout election put the Republicans in charge of the House, and they are still in the majority there. No one saw this in 2008.

  30. My sixth sense told me that Obama is going to win by a large margin and my favorite singer will give birth to a boy. Both are realized today LOL.

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