While you await the results tonight, North-JerseyNews.com wants to provide you with a guide on how and what to watch for as the election results in the U.S. are tallied.
In New Jersey, polls close at 8 p.m. Surveys in the last two weeks have shown Democratic nominee Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker with wide leads over President Donald Trump and Rik Mehta, respectively. Those races are expected to be called early in the night for the Garden State.
But for state-wide ballot questions and House races throughout the state, results may not be known Nov. 3. The July 7 primary—the first vote-by-mail statewide election held across the Garden State—results were not certified until August and the closer races did not have a clearer winner for a few days after the election.
Across the Nation
Voters across New Jersey—and America—will have their eyes fixed on key races expected to decide who will reside in the White House for the next four years and what party will have majority control of the U.S. Senate.
Most election officials have stated final totals, which has been the custom in past years, will take days to make an official declaration of winners. The campaigns for President Trump and Biden are prepared to contest election results, which could delay final outcomes for an undetermined amount of time.
The state closest to New Jersey with the greatest intrigue is Pennsylvania. Their polls will close at 8 p.m. but a battle of the counting of mail-in ballots is expected. Pennsylvania law does not allow early votes to be counted until Election Day and seven of the state’s 67 counties will wait to count mail-in ballots until the day after the election.
Looking at the electoral map, there are 11 states expected to decide the outcome of this year’s Presidential election. The closing times for these states are Georgia and Florida at 7:00 p.m., followed by Ohio and North Carolina at 7:30 p.m., Michigan and Texas at 8 p.m., Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Arizona at 9 p.m. and Nevada and Iowa at 10 p.m.
Besides the task of counting mail-in ballots in these states, it should be noted that the closing times are not a hard stop for votes to be cast. States routinely extend the deadline if there are issues at polling stations—such as voting machines breaking down—as long as voters are online by the original deadline.
Key Senate Races
The battle for the Senate will be fought in many of these same state’s. The Senate is currently split 53-47 with the Republicans in the majority. There are 35 seats up for election in the Senate, and of those, 23 belong to Republicans and 12 to Democrats.
Seats Democrats are expected to pick up include North Jersey native Mark Kelly defeating Sen. Martha McSally in Arizona and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper defeating incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner.
For Republicans, former college football coach Tommy Tuberville is expected to defeat incumbent Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama.
Toss Up Races
In the tossup category, there are seven key races all currently held by Republicans to watch Election night. Maybe the most in danger, Maine Sen. Susan Collins has been continuously behind in the polls to Democractic candidate Sara Gideon, Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, during this election cycle.
In Georgia, both Senate races—currently held by Republicans— are on the ballot. Sen. David Perdue is attempting to hold off a challenge by Dem Jon Ossoff.
For the second seat, Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock is ahead, trailed by appointed GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Rep. Doug Collins. If no candidate gets a 50% majority, the top two vote-earners will face each other in a January 2021 runoff.
Republican Sen. Joni Ernst is in a close race with Democrat Theresa Greenfield for the Senate seat in Iowa. Both candidates have led in polls in the last month, but in the last days Ernst has moved ahead.
Montana has featured a race between two of the more popular politicians in the state. Republican Sen. Steve Daines is facing a tough re-election bid against Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock. A deep red state when it comes to the Presidential election, Dems have won statewide in recent years—electing Bullock to two terms as governor and re-electing Democratic Sen. Jon Tester three times.
Finally, races in the Carolinas are bellwethers for the nation. The race between GOP incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis has been tight this election cycle in a challenge by State Sen. Cal Cunningham in North Carolina.
Meanwhile, perhaps the most high-profile Senate race is taking place in South Carolina. Former state party chair Democrat Jaime Harrison has raised millions of dollars in his attempt to oust Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.