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What To Look For On Election Night
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The first polls close at 6:00 p.m. Eastern in Indiana and should provide important clues about the night to come. One thing to look for is how quickly Republican Dan Coats is declared the winner over Democratic Congressman Brad Ellsworth in the U.S. Senate race. Coats is up by 18 percentage points in the latest Rasmussen Reports poll, and the numbers should lead to a fairly easy and early call for the networks.  If it’s not, then that’s either a sign of a tough night for the GOP or problems with the exit polls.

Also in Indiana, there are a couple of interesting House races to watch. Real Clear Politics (RCP)  has a great summary of House races which can serve as a starting point for all armchair analysts. In Indiana, they show Indiana’s 2nd  Congressional District as a Toss-Up between incumbent Democrat Joe Donnelly and Republican challenger Jackie Walorski. RCP projects that 224 seats are leaning, likely or safe Republican (that’s a 45-seat gain). So if the Democrats start to lose some of the Toss-Ups like Indiana-2, the GOP can be expected to gain well over 45 seats.

On the other hand, Indiana’s 8th  and 9th  Districts are considered Leans Republican by RCP. If the Democrats carry either or both of those seats, it would signal that Democrats are poised to beat expectations.

For those who want a handy cheat sheet to follow House races as the evening wears on, you might want to follow this summary from Hotair.com.

While Indiana will whet our appetite, polls will close at 7 in Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina and Virginia. These states offer a number of interesting House races and should report fairly easy GOP Senate victories in three of them.

Also in the 7 o’clock hour, Rasmussen Reports will release our first wave of Election Day surveys based on interviews with people who have already voted. We’ll release some information from these surveys throughout the evening. Tomorrow, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern, Rasmussen Reports will host our first-ever webinar with Scott Rasmussen  to review all the results from our Election Day polling and look at the messages voters were hoping to send.

By the time polls close in Ohio, North Carolina and West Virginia, we should start to have a good sense of how the evening will end up. The West Virginia  Senate race is one we’ll be watching carefully. Democrat Joe Manchin is ahead in our latest polling by four points. If he wins, it will be very difficult for the GOP to win control of the Senate. If Republican John Raese pulls off an upset, then it could suggest the Republicans are heading for an even bigger victory than anticipated. An upset victory by Raese would make it very likely the GOP could end up controlling the Senate.

At 8:00 p.m., polls close in a dozen states, and it will be tough to keep up with all the news. If you’re having trouble keeping score, you might check in with Intrade, the political futures market. At 1:00 p.m. Eastern on Election Day afternoon, their summary page on House races  shows a 63% chance that Republicans will capture at least 60 seats, while there is just a 42% chance they will win 65 or more. These numbers change in real time as new data becomes available and can provide a quick way to get a composit sense of the latest news.

When all is said and done, check back with Rasmussen Reports for our latest polling information on why people voted as they did. Also, don’t forget the summary provided yesterday by Scott Rasmussen in the Wall Street Journal   suggesting that these mid-terms will be a loss for the Democrats but not a victory for the GOP.

Rasmussen Reports is an electronic media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion polling information.  We poll on a variety of topics in the fields of politics, business and lifestyle, updating our site’s content on a news cycle throughout the day, everyday.

Rasmussen Reports Platinum Members get an all-access pass to polling news, analysis and insight not available to the general public.

Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports, has been an independent pollster for more than a decade. To learn more about our methodology, click here.