Election Night, As the Polls Close
November 7, 2000

Major Parties' Benchmarks for Success

On Election Day, November 7, the first states to close their polls will be Indiana and Kentucky. Exit polls and raw numbers from those states will be available shortly thereafter. Here is a guide to election night that is grounded in the Center for Voting and Democracy's past reports on congressional elections and presidential elections.

Note that the percentages and House districts listed are not predictions. Rather, they are the benchmarks that will indicate what kind of night it will be for the major parties in their struggle for control of the White House, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House. Given recent polls, the election almost certainly will be very close. If one of the presidential candidates consistently succeeds in meeting the benchmarks provided here, you can predict with some certainty that this candidate will win relatively comfortably. If the results are mixed, settle in with your popcorn -- and perhaps your sleeping bag -- for a long night. For those concerned about control of the U.S. House and Senate, a long night may be necessary regardless, although we will know a great deal by the time of the network projections after the 9 pm poll-closing periods. (Note that all poll-closing times are Eastern Standard Time.) 

State Polls Close Pres. Benchmarks Senate   House Benchmarks
(EST) Bush Gore (Inc. party) R Targets* D Targets*                Comments
Indiana 6:00 PM 56% 42% Easy R 3, 9 2, 8 Hill in CD-9 may be a quiet R target
Kentucky 52% 46% x 4 3*,6* Key races to indicate overall House control
Florida 7:00 PM Win Win Win (now R)* 3 8*,12,22* Bellwether races at all levels
Georgia 52% 46% D > 50% 2 7,8 Miller seeks to avoid runoff to keep D Senate gain
New Hampshire Win Win x x 2 Where will McCain vote go?
South Carolina 54% 44% x 5 Chance for D's to control redistricting
Vermont 45% 52% Easy R   Race for governor and legislature tight
Virginia 53% 45% Win (now D)* 2* All eyes on U.S. Senate race
North Carolina 7:30 PM 54% 44% x 2 8, 11 House gains hard due to incumbent gerrymander
Ohio 51% 47% Easy R 6 12 2002 the big year to watch for House races
West Virginia Win Win Easy D 2* x A two-party state, although Clinton won easily
Connecticut 8:00 PM 45% 53% Easy D 2, 5* 6 D's seek monopoly control of state redistricting
Delaware 46% 52% Win (now R)* x Bush win would mean big night; key Senate race
Dist. of Columbia 13% 84% x x No voting representation; can Nader beat Bush?
Illinois 44% 53% x 17 10*, 15 Polls showing close prez race bad news for D's
Maine 46% 51% R x Good state to measure Nader factor
Maryland 45% 53% Easy D 8 Morella holds most Dem CD held by an R
Massachusetts 37% 60% Easy D x All-Democratic congressional delegation
Michigan 46% 51% Win (now R)* 8 Key race for U.S. Senate control
Mississippi 54% 44% Easy R 4 Shows' defense of CD-4 only wildcard
New Jersey 44% 54% Win (now D) 12* 7* House races key indicators for D's hopes
Oklahoma 58% 40% x x 2* CD 2 could be harder for D's than expected
Pennsylvania Win Win R 4*, 13 10 Huge state in prez race; state leg races critical
Rhode Island 38% 59% Win (now R) x Possible surprise in Senate race?
Tennessee Win Win Easy R 6 Gore's home-state edge to push him to win?
Texas 55% 41% Easy R 1, 2 14 Key state leg races for control of redistricting
Arkansas 8:30 PM 47% 50% x 2 4 Can Clinton's bounce carry over to Gore?
Alabama 9:00 PM 55% 43% x 4 Four House races not contested by major party
Colorado 54% 44% x 2 6 CD 2 could be sleeper for R's
Kansas 62% 36% x 3* Last stand for D's in CD 3
Louisiana Win Win x 6 Clinton won big, but Gore trails
Minnesota 46% 49% Win (now R)* 4,6* 1 Third party activity: CD 4 and Nader strong
Missouri Win Win Win (now R)* 6* 2 Critical presidential and Senate races
Nebraska 63% 35% Win (now D)* x Senate race could veer toward R with coattails]
New Mexico Win Win D 3 1* Good chance winner here to win presidency
New York 39% 58% Win (now D) 1*, 4 2* Hillary benefits from big D edge? Watch CD 2
South Dakota 54% 43% x x Quiet year in South Dakota
Wisconsin Win Win D 2 1 All eyes on presidential race
Wyoming 56% 37% Easy R x Easy year for R's in Wyoming
Arizona 10:00 PM 51% 47% Easy R 1, 5,6 Prez and House race closer than expected?
Idaho 63% 33% x x Heavily R state
Iowa Win Win 4 2 Close state should tilt Gore for him to win
Montana 55% 42% Win (now R) x AL Leans R, but congressional wildcards?
Nevada 53% 44% Win (now D)* 1 Best chance for R pick-up in Senate
North Dakota 58% 41% D AL x Congressional D's run far ahead of projection
Utah 65% 33% Easy R x 2* CD 2 leans heavily R, but strong D candidate
California 11:00 PM 47% 50% D 10, 20*,22 15*,27* D's also hopes for CD 36 & 49; Nader vote big?
Hawaii 41% 56% Easy D 1,2 Status quo results likely
Oregon 50% 47% x 1,5 Nader makes Gore's job even harder here
Washington 48% 50% Win (now R)* 1,3,9 2*,5 Extremely competitive two-party state
Alaska Midnight 62% 30% x x AL Nader seeks to beat Gore
    * Particularly important congressional races to watch
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