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Election Day is here. Here are five key things to watch throughout the day and as polls close.
1. New Hampshire polls close early. Will results there will send a strong signal?
The final WBUR poll released last week gave Donald Trump a 1-point edge, and two other polls released the same day showed it a tie. The polls were taken just after the FBI director announced they had found additional emails pertinent to the Hillary Clinton investigation. Since that time, some polls in New Hampshire and elsewhere have shown a modest recovery for Clinton.
We will be watching to see how the town-by-town results compare to Barack Obama’s victories in the state in 2008 and 2012 to get the first sense of how the night is shaping up. In most New Hampshire cities and towns, polls close at 7 p.m., and the vote counts from these towns will give the first solid sense of how the vote is going.
2. In the U.S. Senate, New Hampshire is among a handful of states that could be the tipping point.
New Hampshire is one of a few states that will help decide whether Democrats or Republicans end up in charge. On average, recent polls of the Kelly Ayotte-Maggie Hassan contest show it a very tight race. With most polls closing at 7 p.m. in New Hampshire, those first votes will be very closely watched as a signpost of how the rest of the evening will unfold.
3. Is there a surge in Latino voter turnout?
Early voting data is showing a huge spike in turnout among Latino voters in some key states. It’s not clear how big the turnout increase will be when all of the ballots are counted, since some of the early vote may be people who would have voted anyway. But it seems like there will be a jump.
The Republican Party has known for a while it cannot continue to ignore the rapidly growing power of the Latino vote. In 2012, the GOP election post-mortem identified this as a key priority after Mitt Romney took a 44-point beating, writing, “If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence.”
That was before Trump, whose rhetoric and policy positions have done nothing to improve the GOP's prospects and may even make margins worse. If margins are worse and turnout is up, it will make the path to a Trump victory even more precarious than it already is.
4. How does the presidential concession speech go?
This presidential campaign has vacillated between uncomfortable and appalling to watch, and has broken any number of long-held political norms. The tradition has been for the loser to concede once the outcome is certain, and encourage the nation to come together around the new president. After such a bitter campaign, and with political polarization at an all-time high, the stakes of this speech seem even higher. Both candidates hold the hopes and emotions of their supporters in their hands. How they direct those forces when the whole country is watching will help set the course for whatever comes next, good or bad.
5. How do the questions go on marijuana legalization and charter schools?
With the outcome of the presidential election in Massachusetts all but certain, two ballot questions are receiving most of the attention.
Most of the polling on the marijuana question has shown voters favor legalization by at least a narrow (and possibly large) margin. Polling on charter schools has been more mixed, with the two most recent WBUR polls showing the cap lift trailing.
Gov. Charlie Baker has taken positions in favor of the charter cap lift (Yes on 2) and against legalizing marijuana (No on 4). The results of the two questions will give observers a read on the strength of the Baker political machine as he limbers up for his own likely re-election campaign in 2018.
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