How to Watch Election Night Like a Pro

Virginia could also provide clues to the national mood of Black voters, whose tepid enthusiasm for Biden has worried Democrats. Sean Trende, a political analyst who served as a special master during Virginia’s redistricting process, suggested looking at the returns in Hampton City and Surry Counties to gain insight into how turnout among Black voters in both urban and rural areas is shaping up.

A seven-point swing in Spanberger’s district would also suggest that polls have been overstating Democrats’ support elsewhere. In that scenario, some Democratic governors might fall: Tony Evers in Wisconsin, Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan, even Tim Walz in Minnesota. It would signal that Republicans are likely to retake the Senate, where they need to flip just one seat.

With apologies to Tip O’Neill, all politics is national now. But local factors — unique demographics, strong and weak candidates, well-run and hapless campaigns — still matter at the margins, where races are often won and lost.

There are otherwise vulnerable Democrats like Representative Marcy Kaptur of Ohio and Representative Chris Pappas of New Hampshire who might stave off defeat because they face flawed Republican opponents. In a wave year, though, even those seemingly fortunate Democrats might go down.

“If Marcy loses, we lose every single seat Trump won and probably every seat Biden won by 2 or less,” said Brian Stryker, a Democratic pollster at Impact Research. That’s 14 seats.

There are also comparatively strong Republican candidates elsewhere along the East Coast like Allan Fung, who could win an open seat in Rhode Island that Biden won by more than 14 points. And if George Logan, a Republican business executive, defeats Representative Jahana Hayes, a Democrat, in staunchly blue northwestern Connecticut, it would suggest that Republicans are persuading Democratic voters to break ranks.

What if Luria loses and Spanberger wins, but just barely? Pour yourself a cup of coffee and settle in. Things are going to get interesting.

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