What To Look For On Tuesday Night

Want to make an educated guess before the polls close?

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Most polls have Biden out front. The average point spread seems to about 6. But this comes down to the Electoral College, not the popular vote. So it doesn’t depend on how many votes. It depends where they come from.

It also depends on what we in Army Intelligence used to call battle indicators, the small hints, like tells in poker, that make up the details of the big picture and can give you an edge in predicting victory or defeat. Here are the indicators to look for on Tuesday.

Weather- It matters. Usually bad weather favors Republicans and good weather favors Democrats because bad weather can keep many Democrats, who rely on public transportation to get to the polls, at home. Non highly motivated voters will just pack it in at a sign of inclement weather. Those are more Democrat this time. But the national forecast looks good for Tuesday. Factor in Covid and mail-in and, like so much else this time, it’s a jump ball.

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Media- They want Biden to win badly, but they don’t want to look as foolish as they did in 2016. They will be conducting exit polls all day in key battleground states. Listen for their tone. If in the early evening they seem happy and confident, Biden is doing well. But if they seem all business, like they’re hedging their bets, Trump could have an edge.

Down ballot races- These can be bellwethers on the national vote. If one party starts losing their House or Senate incumbents in upsets, that is a very bad sign for the party’s presidential candidate in that state. Watch North Carolina and Arizona for hints there. Even county races in places like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin could hold the subtle keys for national results.

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Tech glitches- Sometimes they are real, sometimes not. They can be convenient alibis because nefarious players need time to lose ballots or switch ballots. An hour or so delay can be normal, especially in big cities. More than that and it gets murky.

City vs rural results- Cities, because of their proximity to election offices, come in first. The more outlying the area the longer it takes to get the data to the election office. That’s why swing states like Pennsylvania look very Democrat early and can gradually swing Republican as the night progresses.

Staff- Watch the campaign staff running around behind the network camera shots from campaign headquarters. The faster their pace the better they are doing. The slower their energy level the worse the news is for them. They have their own intelligence sources, better than the networks, and will get the real news sooner. They, like everyone else, will showcase their mood in their body language.

David Kamioner
meet the author

David Kamioner is a veteran of U.S. Army Intelligence and an honors graduate of the University of Maryland's European Division. He also served with the Pershing Nuclear Brigade and the First Infantry Division. Subsequent to that he worked for two decades as a political consultant, was part of the American Red Cross Hurricane Katrina disaster relief effort in Louisiana, ran a homeless shelter for veterans in Philadelphia, and taught as a college instructor. He serves as a Contributing Editor for LifeZette.

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