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9 things to watch on election night

9:37 PM, Nov 5, 2012   |    comments
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1.) What state is critical early on?

Just about everyone in the know will be watching Virginia. The state has 13 electoral votes, and its polls close at 5pm our time. Four years ago, then-Senator Barack Obama became the first Democratic candidate to win the state since 1964. If he wins it again this time, Governor Mitt Romney will find it increasingly difficult to win more than 270 electoral votes.

2.) Could the polling data be inherently flawed?

Governor Romney is consistently polling behind President Obama in a number of key swing states. States like Ohio are borderline critical in order for Romney to win, yet the polls continue to show him trailing by a few points. So, what happens in Romney pulls the upset? Pollsters like our own political expert Floyd Ciruli say it would cause the entire polling community to take a look at itself in the years to come. Critics have suggested that many polls are using too big of a Democratic sample and are thus inherently flawed. In the end, however, the only poll that truly matters will be the net result of what voters decide come Election Day.

3.) Uh-oh in Ohio

Due to a shift in how it conducts its elections, political observers say it remains possible that tens of thousands of Ohioans could cast so-called provisional ballots. In a tight race, that could prove to be troublesome considering that by state law Ohio can't even start counting provisional ballots until ten days AFTER the election.

4.) Could Colorado tip the election?

Nate Silver with the New York Times puts the odds of Colorado tipping the election one way or another at less than 5 percent. By comparison, he puts the odds of Ohio doing so at closer to 50 percent.

5.) What are the critical Colorado counties when it comes to the race for President?

9News Political Analyst says if either Governor Romney or President Obama win both Jefferson and Arapahoe counties, then he will almost certainly win Colorado's 9 electoral votes.

6.) Will Colorado lose an incumbent?

Three races in particular, based upon money spent during the campaign, are considered to be particularly hard-fought, according to Ciruli. Rep. Scott Tipton (R) is facing off against Sal Pace (D) in CD-3, Rep. Mike Coffman (R) is facing off against Joe Miklosi (D) in CD-6, and Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D) is facing off against Joe Coors (R) in CD-7. Keep an eye on all three. Democrats in particular can't afford to lose a seat in a House currently run by the Republicans.

7.) Will any state legalize marijuana?

Colorado, Washington, and Oregon have questions on their ballots this year that would legalize small amounts of marijuana. Any state to pass the question would automatically become the first state in the country to do so and almost certainly subject itself to enhanced federal scrutiny. Polling indicates a very close race in Colorado. Oregon is seen by many to be a long shot at best.

8.) When will Colorado order a recount?

In Colorado, an automatic recount is ordered if the candidate who comes in second-place loses by less than one half of one percent of the total votes cast. Based upon 2008 numbers, that number in a statewide election would be close to 12,500.

9.) How expensive is your vote?

Based upon numbers from the Federal Election Commission, in 2008, around $1 billion was spent by the two major candidates. To put that into perspective, President Obama spent roughly $11 per every vote he received. Senator John McCain spent nearly $6. This year, when super-PAC's are taken into consideration, the total amount spent will come close to $2 billion.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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