We know this because of what’s happened before.
While it’s true that no one really knows what’s going to happen in 24 hours, we do have a good idea of when it might happen.
Back in 2014 when I covered this we were all pretty excited that Amanda Curtis might beat Steve Daines and head to the Senate.
Didn’t turn out that way, and the night went like so:
- 8 PM: Polls closed
- 8:02: Fox News called the Senate race for Daines
- 8:05: SoS site up and running with 11.2% of precincts reporting
- 8:25: PSC #5 candidate Hollenbaugh led Johnson 55-44%
- 8:33: SD 49 had Sands up 52% vs. Haines’ 47%
- 8:47: Daines gave acceptance speech as 28% of precincts partially report
- 9:07: MT SoS page crashes
- 9:28: MT SoS page back up, Zinke/Lewis at 51-44%
- 9:50: PSC #5 flips to Johnson 55%, Hollenbaugh 44%
- 10:53: Lewis concedes the House race to Zinke
- 10:55: Amanda Curtis concedes the Senate race
- 11:42: Billings Gazette goes to press, 31 counties in and 41% of precincts
- 1:27 AM: National papers declare a red wave
- 2:21 AM: SD 49 goes to recount, despite Dem leading 6 hours earlier
As you can see, anything can happen.
The Secretary of State’s computers will crash, the national media will call our races right as our polls close, and races that start off with one candidate winning will end up with that candidate losing as more than just the absentee ballots are counted.
Now let’s look at how the election night went in 2016.
- 12 PM: 80-95% of absentee ballots had already been returned (79% in Missoula)
- 6:25 PM: Lines in Kalispell mean it’ll take 3 hours to vote
- 7:00: NBC reports GOP will keep U.S. House
- 8:00: MT Polls close with people still to wait 2 hours in line
- 8:55: Bullock/Gianforte at 55-41% with 0.87% of precincts reporting
- 9:00: Trump wins Florida
- 10:30: 6.5% of Montana precincts reporting
- 11:10: Bullock/Gianforte at 50-46%
- 11:27: Washington Post reports GOP will keep U.S. Senate
- 11:33: Bullock/Gianforte at 49-46%
- 11:53: First network calls Trump the winner
- 12:28 AM: Denise Juneau concedes the U.S. House race to Zinke
- 12:45: Hillary calls Trump to concede
- 1:00: Bullock/Gianforte at 48-47%
- 1:17: Bullock/Gianforte tied at 48%
- 1:23: Still 0% of precincts in Cascade, Silver Bow and Lake Counties reporting
- 2:00: Nearly everyone goes to bed with Bullock up by 70 votes
- 8:30 AM: 78.2% of the vote has been counted, with 148 precincts not fully in
- 8:30: Bullock up by 12,000 votes
- 9:00: AP calls governor’s race for Bullock
It’s interesting how Bullock was way up early in the night, then late in the night the two were tied. By morning, Bullock was up again, by enough to win.
Remember, by 1 AM, three of the biggest counties still hadn’t turned in any election results to SoS. Could be the same tonight.
Another thing with 2016 is that we also had a very high number of absentee ballots returned.
It’s just that they were mostly returned with Republican votes.
We’ll see if that’s the trend this year as well.
Have a good night, or maybe morning.