If you are a Barack Obama supporter, you may be pouring your second or third glass of wine by this point in the evening. If you are a Republican, I recommend something stronger.
This is the third and final installment in NRO’s election guide — for states with poll closings 9 p.m. and later. The evening’s waning hours will be the hardest part of the day. Whatever happens in the presidential race, you will likely be watching the most liberal Congress ever swept into power. If the inexperienced Obama is winning at this point, these are the races that will determine precisely for whom he will be serving as the rubber stamp.
This is the most important reason to get out and vote today — many of the down-ballot races will be very close.
9 p.m. EST
COLORADO (9 Electoral Votes)
This is the most important state to close in the nine o’clock hour. A win here by Barack Obama, combined with a win in Virginia, is probably enough to make him president, even if John McCain has somehow managed to win Pennsylvania.
Rep. Mark Udall (D.) is expected to defeat handily former Rep. Bob Schaffer (R.) in the race for the Senate seat of retiring Sen. Wayne Allard (R.).
The NRCC pulled the plug on conservative Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R.) long ago. Democrats are spending big on her opponent, Betsy Markey (D.), who is at this point the favorite in the state’s eastern 4th District.
MINNESOTA (10 Electoral Votes)
The three-way Senate race here is one of the most-watched in the country, and certainly one of the least predictable. Comedian Al Franken (D.) has Sen. Norm Coleman (R.) on the ropes, with Independence Party candidate and former Senator-for-a-few-days Dean Barkley providing a double-digit distraction. Coleman, who won in 2002 after the death of Sen. Paul Wellstone (D.), may well survive, but it depends entirely on who shows up to vote.
Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R.) has been targeted by million-dollar DCCC spending spree and is in serious danger of losing. She put a bullseye on her own back for liberal donors to target when she made some unusually harsh comments about Obama on MSNBC. But Bachmann should not be underestimated. She is a tireless campaigner who believes in the cause and had the political know-how to outraise her opponent, Elwyn Tinklenberg (D.), by $1.3 million. In one poll, she improved her position and retook the lead immediately after having $600,000 dropped on her by the DCCC last week. She also took a competitive race in 2006 and buried her sympathetic opponent by an unexpectedly large margin.
State Rep. Erik Paulsen (R.) is slightly favored to keep the 3rd District in GOP hands after the retirement of moderate Rep. Jim Ramstad (R.). The Democratic candidate is political newcomer Ashwin Madia.
Despite one late poll that has given McCain supporters some hope, Barack Obama will almost certainly win Minnesota’s electoral votes.
NEBRASKA (5 Electoral Votes)
Former Gov. Mike Johanns (R.) should have no problem winning the Senate seat of retiring Sen. Chuck Hagel (R.).
The more interesting question will be the fate of Omaha’s Rep. Lee Terry (R.), who faces Jim Esch (D.). Democrats have had special reason to target Terry’s district, since Nebraska divides its electoral votes by congressional district. The DCCC has spent $750,000 here, but Terry has overcome such challenges before. On the other hand, if Obama can snag an electoral vote in Omaha, he avoids an Electoral College tie under one (admittedly unlikely) scenario.
TEXAS (34 Electoral Votes)
Polls do not close in El Paso until 9 p.m., but all of the important outcomes should be clear by 8 o’clock. In the Houston area, Pete Olson (R.) will likely defeat Rep. Nick Lampson (D.) and regain former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s (R.) seat for the GOP.
Sen. John Cornyn (R.) is expected to win re-election.
WISCONSIN (10 Electoral Votes)
John McCain ceded this one to Barack Obama. Former state Assembly Speaker John Gard (R.) will likely come up short against Rep. Steve Kagen (D.) in Green Bay.
WYOMING (3 Electoral Votes)
Republicans will easily keep both of Wyoming’s Senate seats (one is up for a special election). The race for Wyoming’s lone House seat will be much closer. Former state Treasurer Cynthia Loomis (R.) is expected to keep the seat in the Republican column against the Democrats’ 2006 nominee, Gary Trauner (D.).
LOUISIANA (9 Electoral Votes)
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D.) will win her third Senate term, even as John McCain easily carries Louisiana.
Some of the races here were disrupted by Hurricane Gustav, and so primaries will be held today. In the Shreveport-based 4th District, left open by the retirement of Rep. Jim McCrery (R.), each party will be choosing a nominee in a runoff instead of holding a general election.
In Baton Rouge, Rep. Don Cazayoux (D.) will be defending his seat in a three-way race against state senator Bill Cassidy (R.) and Michael Jackson (D.), who is running as an independent after losing the Democratic primary. Cazayoux, recently won the seat over Woody Jenkins (R.) in a special election after the resignation of Rep. Richard Baker (R.). Cassidy is a more formidable opponent than Jenkins and could very well win the race.
NEW YORK (31 Electoral Votes)
In upstate New York, it simply does not matter to voters how badly the state’s Democrats have decimated the economy — the solution is to elect more of them. And this time around, they will.
Republicans will likely lose the Staten Island seat vacated by Rep. Vito Fossella, as well as the upstate seat being vacated by Jim Walsh (R.). They are should keep the Rochester-Buffalo-area seat left behind by Tom Reynolds (R.). In that order, the names of the expected winners for those races are Mike McMahon (D.), Dan Maffei (D.), and Christopher Lee (R.).
Rep. Randy Kuhl (R.) is also in danger of losing to his repeat opponent, Eric Massa (D.). But Kuhl beat longer odds last time, overcoming an 11-point polling deficit in the final week to win re-election.
NEW MEXICO (5 Electoral Votes)
With both Republican House members giving up their seats to get into a futile Senate race, the Republican Party is about to be swept out of the Land of Enchantment altogether. Democrats lead in the races to succeed both Reps. Heather Wilson (R.) and Steve Pearce (R.). Rep. Tom Udall (D.) will join his cousin in the United States Senate, succeeding Sen. Pete Domenici (R.).
Barack Obama is strongly favored to win the state’s five electoral votes.
ARIZONA (10 Electoral Votes)
John McCain should carry his home state without any problem, but his state party is a wreck. Democrats will probably take over the House seat vacated by Rep. Rick Renzi (R.). Democrats will have spent a combined $4.1 million against John Shadegg, (R.) whom they are far less likely to defeat.
10 p.m. EST
NEVADA (5 Electoral Votes)
The polls show Barack Obama winning Nevada. Depending on what happens out East, the outcome here could make a difference in the final result. In one scenario, an Obama win in Nevada results in an Electoral College tie.
Rep. Jon Porter (R.) is in another tough fight in his suburban Las Vegas district, this time against 2006 gubernatorial nominee Dina Titus (D.). A recent poll has the two tied after a massive $2.3 million expenditure by the DCCC.
11 p.m. EST
OREGON (7 Electoral Votes)
Moderate Sen. Gordon Smith (R.) has been in a campaign swoon since late September, and he may be the second-to-last casualty of a Democratic down-ballot sweep.
IDAHO (4 Electoral Votes)
Conservative Rep. Bill Sali (R.) is on the ropes, and the DCCC didn’t even have to spend $1 million to put him there. Sali raised less than $1 million for the race and has been outspent two-to-one by his opponent. His seat may be lost to Walter Minnick, barring an outstanding Election Day performance on the ground. This would be quite unfortunate, because nearly any other conservative Republican could hold this seat.
Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Jim Risch will have no problem assuming the seat of retiring Sen. Larry Craig (R.).
WASHINGTON (11 Electoral Votes)
People still call Dino Rossi (R.) “the governor” and believe, with much justification, that the election was stolen from him in 2004. The conservative Republican lost by 129 votes after a series of recounts and ballots that were miraculously discovered in Seattle. His repeat challenge to Gov. Christine Gregoire (D.) has gathered support from many unlikely quarters, including Washington University’s extremely liberal student newspaper.
In the suburban 8th District, moderate Rep. Dave Reichert (R.) is in another close battle with his 2006 opponent, Darcy Burner (D.).
The state will also feature a ballot initiative on assisted suicide.
CALIFORNIA (55 Electoral Votes)
In a radio interview between Charlie Brown (D.) and Tom McClintock (R.), the Democrat came off as clearly dishonest about his attendance at an anti-war rally where an effigy of a soldier was hanged. Brown’s performance also made President Bush look like a master orator. Yet McClintock is not the shoo-in one may expect, even though the only available polls were done by the left-wing Daily Kos website. This race will be a close on in a district that should not be close.
Elsewhere, Rep. Jerry McNerney (D.) is expected to survive a challenge from former state Rep. Dean Andal (R.). Ballot initiatives on same-sex marriage (Proposition 8), parental notification for minors seeking abortions (Proposition 4) and a ban on veal production and “inhumane egg farming” (Proposition 2) will also appear on the ballot.
12 a.m. EST
ALASKA (3 Electoral Votes)
If you are still awake by this time, best to put away any sharp objects. You are about to witness the result of two men’s incredible arrogance, and the complete failure of Alaska Republican voters to come to grips with their party’s ethics problems.
Rep. Don Young (R.) and Sen. Ted Stevens (R.) are both expected to lose this year after serving a combined 75 years in statewide federal office. Stevens, recently convicted of concealing gifts from a corrupt oil services company, may soon serve time in an institution quite different from the U.S. Senate. Young, who narrowly survived a primary challenge in August, is in under investigation for his ties to the same company. He narrowly survived a challenge in the primary election from a young reform candidate backed by Sarah Palin.
But before the polls close in Alaska, we may already know that Barack Obama is our next president. So bottoms up, America — the next round is on you.
– David Freddoso is a staff reporter for National Review Online and author of The Case Against Barack Obama.