Election Day is Tomorrow: What You Need to Know

By Mark Micheli

November 5, 2012

After months of campaigning, one million ads and $1 billion in campaign spending, the race for the White House comes to a close tomorrow (unless of course, it doesn't). The final month was marked by two October surprises--one courtesy of Mother Nature (Hurricane Sandy), the other self-inflicted (the Oct. 3 Denver Debate)--that turned a contentious, albeit steady race coming out of the conventions, into a tumultuous horse race. As the candidates frantically sprint toward the finish, the race between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney is finally just a few hours away from being over.

As the race concludes, here are the final polls, projections and voting information you need to know:

Election Day Eve...

After a brief ceasefire following Hurricane Sandy, the campaigns spent the election's final week making closing arguments in every battleground state. The insane pace of campaign travel comes to an end tonight:

Election Day...

While the race for the Electoral College only hinges on a handful of key battleground states, national polling indicates that the popular vote will be the closest its been since the 2000 election. What does that mean? If for no other reason than to ensure there is a clear winner, every vote counts. But with a Hurricane, new voting laws and long lines, that might be easier said than done. 

In New Jersey, voters displaced by the storm may now cast their ballots by email and fax. A directive from New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno allows votes to be counted as absentee ballots until 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Saying “There’s no reason why anybody shouldn’t vote," Governor Chris Christie ordered polling stations open on Saturday and Sunday and will allow residents to cast provisional ballots from any polling station

More than 60 polling stations have been relocated and there's a possibility that Election Day could be extended past Nov. 6 in New York. If fewer than 25 percent of voters make it out to the polls, county election officials could ask the New York state Board of Elections to hold an extra day of voting. 

Elsewhere, new election laws are causing long lines and confusion in states like Florida.

The Popular Vote...

Today, the last day before the election, the average of national polls shows the popular vote is incredibly close. A final Pew Research poll shows Obama with an edge over Romney, 50 percent to 47 percent. A CNN/ORC poll released yesterday shows the race dead even, with both candidates at 49 percent. 

Romney vs. Obama Nationally (via RealClearPolitics.com)

Methodology: Average of 12 polls from 10/22 – 11/4

Advantage: Barely Obama

The Electoral College...

While the popular vote may be close, it doesn't really matter in determining the election's outcome. The race to the White House goes through the Electoral College, and in that race it appears Obama has a more pronounced advantage going into the last day of the race. 

Nov. 6 Forecast (via FiveThirtyEight.com/NYTimes.com)

Methodology: Statistican Nate Silver's forecast model runs simulations of the Electoral College to project the probable outcome of a particular candidate reaching, out of the 538 votes available, the 270 electoral votes needed to win. Silver's model, which was very accurate in 2008, factors in national and state-level polling in addition to economic outlook and demographics.

Projected Electoral College Votes (270 to win):

Projected Chances of Winning:

Projected Popular Vote:

Advantage: Obama

Other Projections:

Electoral Calculator: Make Your Own Map!

Who do you think is going to win tomorrow? Tell us in the comments.

By Mark Micheli

November 5, 2012