The 2022 Midterms: Election Night Viewing Guide

We’ve almost made it. Tomorrow — tomorrow — is the 2022 Midterms.

As I’ve done before the last three elections, I like to present you, the faithful reader, with a “viewing guide” for the evening. This viewing guide will tell you when each state’s polls close — and therefore when results will start coming in. It’ll also remind you of the most competitive states to follow, separating them for extra emphasis.

I’ll generally ignore the House of Representatives today, just as President Biden will for the next two years. Instead, my focus will be on the more competitive Senate. I’ll only list the 34 states where there’s a Senate seat in play, which will keep things much simpler.

Keep that in mind as you take in…

The PPFA 2022 Midterms VIEWING GUIDE

First, a shoutout to for their awesome “polls closing map,” shown below:

Because this is Presidential Politics For America, let’s break down that easily consumable map into a cumbersome and tedious series of words. Keep in mind, as I’ve mentioned throughout the year, that Democrats already start with 36 senators not up for re-election, while Republicans start with 29.

That means, of the 35 Senate races to be decided, Democrats are hoping to win at least 14 of them to get to 50, which will be enough to keep the majority thanks to the Democratic Vice President breaking ties. Republicans, meanwhile, need to win 22 of the 35 races so they can get to the outright majority of 51.

Of course, most of these races aren’t competitive. Yesterday, I updated the state of these races so we know which ones to focus on. Below, I’ll keep a running tally of the easy-to-call states so you won’t be surprised as the numbers develop throughout election night.

All poll closing times listed are Eastern Standard Time. When a state has multiple poll closing times depending on the county, I use the later time, because that’s when results can start coming in from the state.

7:00—Senate race polls close in 5 states: Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont

Quick Calls: Democrats: Vermont. Republicans: Indiana, Kentucky, and South Carolina. Add those to returning senators to make it Democrats 37, Republicans 32.

Close One: Georgia!

What to watch for: Georgia will be close, and unless either candidate can get to 50% + 1 of the vote, the contest will be decided in a runoff on December 6, perhaps with the fate of the Senate in the balance.

7:30—Senate polls close in 2 states: North Carolina and Ohio

Calls: It might take a bit, but Republicans should win both. Democrats 37, Republicans 34.

What to watch for: These are two Republican “likely” states, each among the 13 “competitive” states from yesterday’s post. If it takes Republicans a while to get favorable calls in them, that’s a good sign for Democrats in the more competitive states. If, on the other hand, these are quick calls for the GOP, that likely signals a good night for Republicans. In other words, if your bed time is early, watch these two states as great indicators of what’s to come.

8:00—Senate polls close in 10 races across 9 states: Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma X 2, and Pennsylvania.

Quick Calls: Democrats: Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland. Republicans: Alabama, Missouri, Oklahoma regular election, Oklahoma special election

Fairly Quick Call (see North Carolina and Ohio): Florida to the GOP. Democrats 40, Republicans 39.

Close ones: New Hampshire, Pennsylvania

What to watch for: Of the five states I deem most competitive, New Hampshire should have been safest for the Democrats. If New Hampshire doesn’t go Democratic by midnight, that’s a big problem for the party.

As for Pennsylvania, they don’t even start counting mail-in ballots until after polls close (most states tabulate them earlier, thank goodness), so Republican Dr. Oz will likely have a huge lead early in the night as they count Republican-heavy election day ballots, and we’ll then watch to see if Democrat John Fetterman can make up the margin in mail-in ballots. There’s a good chance the poll workers will adjourn for the night before we know Pennsylvania’s results. Super lame.

8:30—Arkansas all by itself! Republicans hold the state and draw even on the totals: Democrats 40, Republicans 40.

9:00—Senate polls close in 9 states: Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin

Quick Calls: Democrats: New York. Republicans: Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, North Dakota, South Dakota

Slower Calls: Colorado to the Democrats, Wisconsin to the Republicans. Republicans 46, Democrats 42.

Close one: Arizona!

What to watch for: Aside from the Arizona returns, which won’t start coming in until an hour after polls close, I’m curious to see if Wisconsin polling is still broken.

10:00—Senate polls close in 2 states: Nevada and Utah

Fairly Quick Call: Utah to the Republicans, unless conservative Independent Evan McMullin pulls off a miracle. Republicans 47, Democrats 42.

Close one: Nevada!

What to watch for: Nevada doesn’t start reporting results until the last person in line votes. That could mean we don’t hear anything for an hour or two after polls close. Between Pennsylvania waiting to count its mail-in ballots, Arizona waiting an hour to start reporting results, and Nevada’s patience with its long lines, it’s going to be a late night in these three swing states, which makes it a late night for America, which makes it a late night for me. Boy. I’m pre-tired.

11:00—Senate polls close in 4 states: California, Idaho, Oregon, Washington

Calls: Democrats: California, Oregon, and Washington. Republicans: Idaho. Republicans 48, Democrats 45.

Midnight—Senate polls close in 1 state: Hawaii. Quick call to the Democrats. Republicans 48, Democrats 46.

1:00 AM—Senate polls close in 1 state: Alaska. Quick call to the Republicans, whichever one it might be. Republicans 49, Democrats 46.

The Five Close Calls

Closing times for the five closest races:
7:00: Georgia
8:00: New Hampshire, Pennsylvania
9:00: Arizona
10:00: Nevada

Democrats need 4 of the 5 to reach their goal of 50.
Republicans need 2 of the 5 to reach their goal of 51.

And how will they go? I’ll tell you tomorrow.


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