How to Watch Results on Election Night And other useful information
It’s here. Polls open in less than 12 hours, and we’re ready to fast-forward through all of them to get to the results. Here’s what you should be thinking about and looking at as we ride out Election Day.
Scroll to the bottom for a look at what these results could mean for women, as well as a new exclusive analysis of women’s giving post-Dobbs.
If you need to look at early voting data to help soothe pre-election jitters, be sure to take it with a grain of salt. There are too many unknowns for it to be a solid election predictor, though there are some trends right now we’ll be watching tomorrow.
If early turnout is high, it could be a good sign for Democrats, as an indicator of higher turnout on Election Day—though increasingly, high turnout is not predictive of a Democratic advantage. It could also just be covid-influenced behavior changes or worse, reflective of a major drop-off in day-of voting among Democratic voters.
To make any inferences about election results based on early voting data, it may be more instructive to look at states that had a strong culture of early and mail voting before the covid-19 pandemic, like Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.
Check out these key races on TargetSmart:
If you’re thinking, maybe the exit polls on Election Day will give better clues about what we can expect after the polls close—think again.
Exit polls are a first draft of history. As more data (and votes) come in, the numbers and the narrative change. In fact, exit polls are weighted to reflect the final vote count, so if you’re waiting for an accurate exit poll, you might as well wait until all the votes are counted. Plus, exit polls have all the same drawbacks as regular polls, such as nonresponse bias.
Early exit polls are actually responsible for some of the most damaging pieces of misinformation circulated about elections during the several cycles, including that “53 percent of white women voted for Trump” in 2016. That’s actually not true—according to later analyses, it was only 43 percent. Still not good! But not a majority.
Here’s what you should really be watching. Until the polls close, just chill!
All closing times are listed in EST. Some states are split between time zones; times listed indicate the latest poll closing time, after which vote data will be released.
- South Carolina
- North Carolina
- West Virginia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
These are the Senate, House and gubernatorial races to watch in states where the polls close at 7:30 PM or earlier, as well as what the results mean for Democrats nationwide.
Besides the major news networks, a good place to watch for early results is Dave Wasserman’s (of the Cook Political Report) Twitter account.
Stacey Abrams, Governor
Georgia can process and count ballots before polls close, so we should have results not long after. If the gubernatorial race is called quickly, it likely means a good night for Republicans. If counting is slower or the race goes to a runoff, expect a decent night for Democrats.
Elaine Luria, VA-2
Abigail Spanberger, VA-7
Jennifer Wexton, VA-10
Virginia can also process and count votes before polls close and is known for efficient elections and quick reporting. Results in these three races can give us intel on three possible scenarios for the rest of the night:
Elaine Luria is among the most endangered Democratic incumbents in the country. If she wins, then all of these women are likely to win and the House is still in play. If she loses, that still doesn’t mean disaster—her race is currently a toss up.
Abigail Spanberger’s district Leans D, so if she loses, we’re looking at Republicans taking the House by a decent margin, and more likely losing the Senate.
Jennifer Wexton’s district is Likely D, so if she loses, expect a Republican wave. The Senate is almost certainly flipping.
Cheri Beasley, Senator
North Carolina can process and count votes before polls close. A protracted count or close race could mean a good night for Democrats. A win in North Carolina is a sure sign of a blue wave.
Nan Whaley, Governor
Marcy Kaptur, OH-9
Emilia Sykes, OH-13
Ohio can process and count votes before polls close, though it is unlikely we’ll know the results in close Congressional races on Election Night. However, if Nan Whaley appears to be keeping things competitive in the gubernatorial, expect a very good Democratic night. If the gubernatorial race is called early though, it doesn’t necessarily mean doom—both Congressional races have been polling much closer than the statewide races.
Prospects for Women
The Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) will be keeping track throughout the nightof the number of women who will sit in the 118th Congress.
There’s already some evidence that the number of women in Congress could go down this year—and that if the number grows or stays steady, it will be from Republicans. A quick rundown of the numbers:
- There are currently 91 House Democratic women. As of today, Cook rates 64 of those as Safe D and another 14 as Lean D or Likely D.
- If Democrats win all Safe, Lean and Likely races we’ll be at 78 House Democratic women.
- There are another 14 Toss Up races involving House Democratic women.
- Which means we would have to win all of the Safe, Lean and Likely races, and at least 13 of the 14 Toss Up races, to maintain the level of Democratic women in the House.
That’s a tall order. And on the Republican side:
- There are currently 32 House Republican women.
- So far, there are 22 Safe R seats and another 10 rated as Lean R or Likely R.
- That means if Republican women win all Safe, Lean and Likely seats, they will hold their numbers.
- They also could win any one of their 5 Toss Up races and gain seats.
Another factor to keep in mind: Women generally don’t do well during bad years for Democrats. From 2007 to 2013, a timeframe that included Democratic collapses in 2010 and 2014, the percentage of women in Congress flatlined. This year is not predicted to be as bad as those, so our numbers may still grow.
But party recruitment has played a role, too. According to CAWP, the number of women Democrats have recruited to run for House seats has dropped since 2018 (356 → 321), while Republicans have more than doubled theirs (120 → 260).
That led to a drop in women primary nominees on the Democratic side: 183 in 2018, 204 in 2020, and only 177 this year. Another issue: Of the 31 Democrats leaving the House this year, 10 are women, and many of their seats are not being contested with women nominees.
This pipeline problem led to predictable primary results: Only 41 percent of Democratic House nominees are women this year, compared to 47 percent in 2020. If we want the number of women in Congress to keep growing, we need to start at the top of the pipeline.
Full Resource List
No matter what happens on Election Night, we’ll need to pivot quickly to plans for 2024. It will be a critical cycle for defense because all the women we helped elect to the U.S. Senate in 2018 are up for reelection.
- That’s 10 women Senators, including five in politically volatile states: Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, and Wisconsin.
- If we lose women in Congress this cycle, it will be because recruitment was not prioritized. We have an important role to fill by crowdfunding for under-resourced women candidates.
- And of course, Vice President Kamala Harris will be on the ballot!