How long will it take to know who won in U.S. midterm elections?

WASHINGTON, Nov 6 (Reuters) – Here’s some advice for anyone after the U.S. midterm elections on Nov. 8: Be prepared for a long night and possibly days of waiting before it becomes clear whether Republicans or Democrats will make Joe Biden President control the Congress.

All 435 seats in the US House of Representatives are up for grabs, as are 35 US Senate seats and 36 governorships.

Republicans would need to pick up five seats to take a majority in the House and just one to control the Senate. Election forecasters and nonpartisan polls suggest Republicans have a strong chance of winning the House majority, and control of the Senate is likely to be a closer fight.

Announcements of victory hours after the polls close could lead to a huge wave of Republican support.

But with many races expected to be close and key states like Pennsylvania already warning that it could take days to count all ballots, experts say there’s a good chance America will go to bed on election night without know who won.

“When it comes to knowing the results, we should move away from talking about Election Day and instead think about election week,” said Nathan Gonzales, who publishes the nonpartisan newsletter Inside Elections.

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Mirage blue, MIRAGE red

The earliest vote levels will be skewed by how quickly states count mail-in ballots.

Because Democrats vote by mail more often than Republicans, states that allow officials to get an early jump on mail-in ballot counting could report large Democratic leads early on that evaporation as vote counters work their way through piles of ballots. Republicans spent on election day.

In these “blue mirage” states – including Florida and North Carolina – election officials are allowed to remove mail-in ballots from their envelopes before Election Day and load them into vote-counting machines, allowing for a quick count.

Absentee or mail-in ballots are time stamped “On Demand” after they are filled out in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, U.S. October 31, 2022. REUTERS/Hannah Beier/File Photo

States including Pennsylvania and Wisconsin do not allow officials to open the envelopes until Election Day, leading to the potential for a “red mirage” in which Republican Election Day ballots are reported earlier, and many mail-in ballots Democratic leanings included later.

Experts like Joe Lenski, co-founder of Edison Research, who will be tracking hundreds of Nov. 8 races and providing results to Reuters and other media organizations, will keep track of the mix of different types of ballots each state is counting across. . the night.

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“Blue Mirage, red Mirage, whatever. You just have to look at the types of votes that are being reported to know where you stand in that state,” Lenski said.


The first round of vote counts on the East Coast is expected between 7 pm and 8 pm ET (0000-0100 GMT Wednesday, November 9). An early indication of Republican success could come if races expected to be close — like Virginia’s 7th congressional district or the US Senate seat in North Carolina — turn out to be Democratic swings.

By about 10 pm or 11 pm ET, when the polls in the Midwest will be closed for an hour or more, Republicans may have enough momentum for experts at US media organizations to the House control, said Kyle Kondik, political analyst. at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

If the House fight still looks close as vote tallies start coming in from the West Coast — where there could be more than a dozen tight House races — it could be days before we know who controls the room, experts said.

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California typically takes weeks to count all its ballots, in part because it counts ballots postmarked by Election Day even if they arrive days later. Nevada and Washington state also allow late ballots if they are postmarked by Nov. 8, slowing the march to final results.

“If the House is really on the edge, that is the matter,” said Kondik.

It could take longer, perhaps weeks longer, to know which party will control the Senate, with close contests in Pennsylvania, Arizona and Georgia likely to decide ultimate control.

If the Georgia Senate race is as close as expected and no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, a runoff election would be scheduled for December 6, possibly leaving control of the chamber in limbo until that.

Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Scott Malone and Cynthia Osterman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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