Maryville College expects long night of waiting on Election Night

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MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — While Election Day is Nov. 3, the results may not be known until much later.

We talked with Maryville College political science professor Mark O’Gorman about what we can expect.

“Usually we have to wait until at least late in the evening our time, like 11 p.m./midnight, because that will have to be until the very earliest that all the states, except for Alaska and Hawaii, have closed their polls. That’s the first moment where some of the states from East Coast to West Coast can finally start to make their calls, so to speak, in terms of which state might be going for either President (Donald) Trump or (former) Vice President (Joe) Biden.

“And so really going to be at the earliest, given the fact that there are so many, literally tens of millions of outstanding mail-in ballots out there. And the fact that more than a couple of the states won’t be actually doing the process of counting them until Election Day, until Tuesday, it’s not a process that can be done quickly. So there’s a chance, at a minimum, it will go into the wee hours the next morning, if not a little bit later.”

Q: And those mail-in ballots this year, I would imagine the pandemic has a lot to do with this. How has that impacted when we’re going to see those results?

“It really depends a lot of it in terms of like, which states, what the rules are. One of the first issues is, that the fact is, just making sure that the people who are requesting an absentee mail-in or absentee ballot receive them, and then their ability to, I guess, not sit on that, to actually complete it quickly, complete it as a clean ballot and then send it off into the mail and the idea there is the fact that the post office, the United States Postal Service and some of the private mail entities understand these are very important.

“Still, they can only go at the rate that they can go in terms of their staffing. And so really, a lot of folks both on the left and the right are encouraged to get your absentee ballots as quickly as possible, just to kind of remove that gap. Like, ‘Oh dear did It actually make it on time?’

Yeah, from what I’ve heard, as long as you can get your mail-in ballot to a Tennessee election commission on your address by Election Day, it will count. And so there’s still a few more days, but you need to get that in.”

Q: Absolutely, and I know that is a concern for very many people have voted absentee and mailed that in: Will it get there? Of course, the Post Office has been slammed too, so there’s that factor now. As for Tennessee, we’re a red state, Of course, there are pockets of blue, but do you foresee Tennessee going in any new direction? Do you see more blue popping up, or is this going to be what we would generally expect with a pretty Republican sweep here?

“I think it will be mostly Republican. This is a more red state than many other states and then, including, in the Southeast, and so I think you’ll see in terms of President Trump being successful at least in the state of Tennessee on Election Night. I think early polling suggests that the Tennessee Senate race, U.S. Senate race, will go Republican. So you can see that in terms of predictable.

“I believe there are races here even in the Knox county area, the Tennessee Valley area, in terms of whether it’s in the whether outer West Knoxville or in the city that you’re starting to see, I guess some pockets of blue.

“One thing that I do think is going to be an indicator on Election Night will be the margin of victory for President Trump. He won (Tennessee) handily in 2016, or I think it was like 62-36; uh, Hillary Clinton got in the 30s.

“What early polling is suggesting is that Joe Biden might get into the 40s. And what I mean by that get 40 percent of the popular vote. It still means that President Trump will have a commanding win in Tennessee, but if the margin is less, that might be one of those first indicators that suggest that President Trump’s support might not be as strong as it was in 2016; and that might be that phrase, the ‘canary in the coal mine,’ suggesting that he might have a journey.

“So some folks are looking to see what the turn I’ll be like in Tennessee: Is that an indicator of a strong Trump support, or possibly some inroads by Biden with the Democrat?”

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