Your strategies for following US midterm results, please...
November 4, 2018 2:21 PM   Subscribe

UK-based MeFite here. If I want to get the most comprehensive midterm results coverage with reaction and informed commentary from both right and left, which combination of channels / sites should I be flicking through in my tabs?

I usually end up with a blend of radio, live streams, TV stations and live blogs, so happy to try any of those as long as they're accessible from the UK. Will of course be cheering / bellowing in anguish via chat here.

Is there a fairly usual timescale for when (sorry if wrong terminology) exit polls and declarations come in? When are we likely to get the first results (I've read from 6pm EST / 11pm GMT?) and when a sense of the bigger picture?

What snacks and drinks do you stock up on to see you through? Do you nap?

I'm hoping that I may be able to get at least a few hours' sleep at some point, so your election night strategies, please!
posted by doornoise to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I'll be following Steve Kornacki on MSNBC. I will probably get myself a big vegetable tray from the grocery store and maybe a rotisserie chicken to rip up*. A six of something local and a couple of blunts.

*During the third presidential debate of 2016 I made cornish hen that night and ate it with my hands like a cro-magnon. It felt good.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 2:57 PM on November 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Great question. I'd start with what's on MeFi: there'll be an election day thread here thanks to the fantastic Chrysostom, MeFi Chat, and the unofficial MeFi Politics Slack.

Next up, the spreadsheets. Daniel (@Taniel, who you should follow) Nichanian's tracks 409+ races, including every competitive House and Senate race, plus lots of ballot measures and state/local races of interest (ones where control of state legislatures are in the balance, criminal justice reformers are running for office, other unusual or interesting situations).
Daily Kos Elections has a spreadsheet with every race that includes 2016 and 2012 results for the district, which is useful in quickly comparing how results compare, which will be a key indicator in how the night is going.
And, of course, Chrysostom's own spreadsheet tracker

NBC News published its internal election briefing book, which includes a road map of races to follow to lead to a House majority and a list of competitive races organized by poll closing times.

The New York Times will have the swinging-needle-of-pain, which is nightmare inducing, but also a really important tool to model uncertainty. The real question at any given point is not "what are the vote totals looking like," but rather "what's the probability of a given result based on what's been counted so far and how sure are we." The needle (both the big needles for House+Senate control and the smaller per-race ones) helps answer that. FiveThirtyEight's election night reporting are also really good probability-based tools. Follow the FiveThirtyEight liveblog and both Nates on Twitter to start.

I'll also be looking at turnout numbers as they come in (generally from random tweets) and comparing them to 2016 and 2014. In particular, I'll be interested in where the turnout is coming from. We know turnout is high, but is it universally up or does the increase seem to be coming more from D or R-leaning areas? I'll also be looking at how predominately suburban districts are breaking in comparison to 2016. I have very little faith in exit polls, but will be curious how the AP's new VoteCast system performs.

I don't really pay attention to cable TV, but Steve Kornacki on MSNBC knows all, if you're able to watch MSNBC from the UK through an authorized or bootleg stream.

I watch from the US west coast, so my timing is going to be really different than yours. I'd actually give some consideration to trying to get a few hours of early sleep if you can and tuning in after 2-3am GMT, when we should have some numbers out of the more interesting east coast races. At 6pm Eastern, all you're going to get are uninteresting calls in profoundly uncompetitive races in states with early closing times like Kentucky.

For food, I tend to eat whatever foods racist Republicans are upset about, so tacos and whatever they serve at the Star Wars cantina.
posted by zachlipton at 3:13 PM on November 4, 2018 [9 favorites]

I'm working all day at the polls and will be attending a victory party at a bar afterwards for a few friends who are running for office (or a consolation party...but things look promising so it's most likely going to be celebratory). I'll be counting on Metafilter to keep me up to date on what's happening countrywide throughout the day, and if the bar allows us to change the TV channels we will also be watching MSNBC.

I expect that we'll get actual results sometime after 8pm Eastern Time. Everything prior to that is going to be exit polling and stuff like that, which can be fun at first but after watching it for hours on end it can be kind of exhausting.
posted by Elly Vortex at 3:29 PM on November 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh and as for food: whatever the bar is serving - it's an Ecuadorian restaurant so we'll have lots of ceviche de chocho, chips and salsa, and empanadas. And lots of booze.
posted by Elly Vortex at 3:32 PM on November 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: East coast polls will start to close around 7:00 EST (in my state, Pennsylvania, they're open until 8:00). Nothing much is going to be happening until 1-2 AM your time. If I were you, I'd nap and then build a nest in bed and watch from the comfort of your duvet. Exit polls are just tea leaf reading at best. Don't waste your time.

I'll be camping out in front of my laptop from about 8 PM onwards, probably looking at some combination of the the New York Times and its fucking needle (I wish I knew how to quit you), Twitter, and whatever livestream Crooked Media puts on. American cable news is largely garbage.

Food will depend on the early returns, because in 2016 I stocked up on Doritos and Coke, only to leave everything unopened and unconsumed because I was literally in the bathroom getting sick.
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:46 PM on November 4, 2018

Best answer: Here's where polls close in each state (or even part of the state). You might see some race calls for the first closing areas (parts of Indiana and Kentucky as early as maybe 7 ET. But there's not a great deal of interest there, except for KY-06. Next batch (polls close at 7 pm) includes Georgia, which has a big gubernatorial race.

In addition to things people have already mentioned, Daily Kos Elections usually has a liveblog, and I'm sure there will be a lot of activity in the VoteBlue subreddit.

Also, as zachlipton said, I'm working on the Election Day Metafilter thread, and I'm sure that will be hopping with news all (U.S.) night.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:43 PM on November 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

Check the local Democrats Abroad or equivalent Republican group since election watching at a pub is a thing.
posted by jadepearl at 6:09 PM on November 4, 2018

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! Super useful - and very inspired by your delicious food choices.

For anyone checking this question for info, I noted a relevant comment in the main US politics thread with a link to an article detailing the main races to look out for hour by hour.
posted by doornoise at 7:40 AM on November 5, 2018

Best answer: This HuffPost tracker looks like it would be handy.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:28 AM on November 5, 2018

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