It is now 10:00 PM on the East Coast, and we are about ready to start declaring where the major swing states are going to fall and who will become the next President of the United States. Right now, we have some major projections to make.
The state of Wisconsin will cast its 10 electoral votes for O’Malley. This is not too much of a surprise, as Wisconsin has historically been a Democratic lean, but Murkowski put this state into play. Any state is big at this point in the game.
The state of Ohio can now be called for Murkowski. She will win by a fairly slim margin in the state, and it is looking like the things that pushed her over the top are slightly better performances than Romney in 2012 with women and Hispanics, as well as in suburban areas. No Republican has won the White House without a victory in Ohio, so this is a huge victory for Murkowski.
Virginia can now be called for O’Malley. It will be by a slightly smaller margin than Obama in 2012, however, and not as big of a margin of victory that was expected. Virginia is generally considered critical in a Republican victory, so this is a huge gain for O’Malley. However, this is not the only possible path to victory she has tonight.
Another state that will fall for O’Malley is Pennsylvania. This is not too big of a surprise, as the state has pronounced Democratic leans, but Murkowski was unusually competitive. It is of significant concern to the Democratic party that this state took so long to call, and Pennsylvania could end up being a state that is just as heavily contested as Ohio.
The final state which we feel comfortable calling at this time is Florida, which will vote narrowly to award its big prize of 29 electoral votes to Murkowski. The fact that Florida is not the last state to be called is a surprise on its own. Murkowski was able to wrap up this state by a much better performance than Romney had in the Tampa Bay area, as well having slightly better numbers among women and Hispanics.
With a number of critical states called at this point, the last two states remaining up for grabs and the ones that will end up deciding the election are Iowa and Colorado. Both of these states have been usual swing states, and both of these states gave Obama around a 5% margin of victory in 2008 and 2012, but Murkowski has kept neck and neck with O'Malley in both of these states all night long. Last time that Iowa and Colorado voted Republican was for Preisdent Bush's reelection in 2004 against then Senator Kerry. Luckily, a tie in the Electoral College is out of the question, so whoever wins in these states will win the White House.
Coons: This is shaping up to be seriously close. I can't even make a solid prediction as of yet. I think that Murkowski has had a lot stronger connection with rural and Midwestern voters than O'Malley has, which is hopefully a benefit to her. If you think back to the primary season, O'Malley found himself weak in the Midwest and plains regions, where Klobuchar dominated.
Jones: You make a good point about where O'Malley's strengths do and do not lie, but the state of Colorado has a growing urban and suburban population, with a significant portion of this being Hispanic. You simply cannot rely on a more rural Western character to win over states like Colorado anymore: this is what the GOP has been interpreting wrongly and I think it is one of the main reasons why they have been losing elections.