I love election night--but it can be overwhelming. It can also be tedious at times while waiting for polls to close and results to come in. And this year has the added confusion of how much of the early vote count is signal versus noise (e.g., the red or blue "mirage").
So for my own sanity, I've cobbled together a little cheat-sheet for the evening, and figured I'd share it with you all in case you find it helpful. Here is a rough, quickie sense of what to watch for as the night plays out--and obviously, you've got to watch it on CNBC!
6 p.m: Kentucky and Indiana (mostly) close. Bad signs for GOP: If Sen. Maj. Leader McConnell's Senate seat looks to be in trouble; if suburban "red" House districts like Indiana's 5th and Kentucky's 6th go purplish or blue.
7 p.m: Florida (ex-panhandle) and Georgia close. Also Virginia, South Carolina, Vermont, and New Hampshire (mostly). Bad signs for GOP: Losing either FL or GA; losing Sen. Graham's seat in SC. Bad sign for Dems: if Trump picks up NH.
**Florida and NC could be susceptible to a "blue mirage" that appears at first to favor Biden since they are among the states that could start processing mail-ballots before Election Day. Same goes for Ohio, Texas (8pm), and Iowa and Nevada (10pm).
7:30 p.m: North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia close. Bad signs for GOP: Losing NC or OH. Bad signs for Dems: If they can't pick up Sen. Thom Tillis's NC seat. Additional grain of salt: NC can count mail-in ballots postmarked today until next Thursday, Nov. 12th, a delay okayed by the Supreme Court. State officials expect 97% of votes to be counted tonight, but that 3% is plenty wide enough to sway the outcome.
8 p.m: The rest of the East and some of the Midwest closes. Most notably: Pennsylvania. Bad signs for GOP: Trump loses PA; Sen. Susan Collins loses her Maine Senate seat. Bad signs for Dems: not picking up the Collins seat, or the House seats in PA that are in play.
**PA and Michigan could be susceptible to a "red mirage" appearing to favor Trump as they are among states that can't start processing absentee ballots until after the polls close. As the NYT put it, "Mr. Trump could easily lead [PA] all through the night, even if he's on track for a decisive loss."
9 p.m: Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Minnesota close, among others. Key states for either party. Bad signs for Dems: if Sen. Peters loses his Michigan seat to challenger John James; and if Milwaukee, where voter turnout plunged in 2016 and is expected to rebound, especially among Blacks, doesn't turn out for Biden. Also, if Trump wins Minnesota, which the GOP hasn't won since 1972. Bad sign for the GOP: Not winning Phoenix, i.e. Maricopa County.
10 p.m.: Keep an eye on Nevada and Iowa, which are closer calls than North Dakota, Utah, and Montana, which also close. Also keep an eye on the Iowa and Nevada Senate races; it's a bad sign for the GOP if they lose seats like Joni Ernst's.
11 p.m: Nothing really competitive; the West Coast closes. 12 a.m: Hawaii; nothing competitive. 1 a.m: Alaska, with a few competitive Congressional races, but early results will be very incomplete. The state won't start counting absentee ballots--which seem to comprise about a third of votes this year--until next Tuesday, and will finish on Nov. 18th.
And don't forget, as the night goes on, we can start watching the markets. Futures typically reopen by 6 p.m., and Asia begins trading a few hours later. Remember when Carl Icahn left Trump's victory party to buy "a lot of stock" on Election Night 2016 when Dow futures plunged nearly 900 points? You can bet a lot of investors are hoping for a similar opportunity tonight.
To that point, Steve Grasso yesterday gave us a stock to buy for a Biden win, and stock to buy for a Trump win. For Biden, he says go with Trinseo (ticker TSE)--a reflationary play on expectations of big fiscal spending. Bob Michele of J.P. Morgan agreed on the reflation point yesterday, saying the rise in the 10-year yield lately even as stocks sold off is to him a sign the market expects a Biden win. And look at the market today--the Dow's up more than 600 points as of this writing, building on yesterday's 400-point gain, and financials--a key reflationary trade--are leading the way. (For Trump, Grasso says, buy Apple.)
Jim Cramer says just buy stocks either way, if the market sells off on election jitters. So if you're looking for some certainty on what could be a very uncertain night, there you've got it.
See you at 1 p.m!
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