It’s almost over: the most divisive, theatrical, dramatic and dirty presidential campaign will be in the history books by this time tomorrow, with more than 130 million Americans expected to cast ballots across 50 states. However, just winning the popular vote will be insufficient: indeed, it may well be that the popular-vote winner does not win the electoral college.
So which states should one be looking at, and how long is the final day’s drama set to continue?
For the benefit of the traders out there, last week we showed a primer from Citigroup explaining when traders can hope to go home on election evening, according to which it was “all about Florida, North Carolina and Ohio.”
As Citi said, for traders hoping to capitalize on volatility next Tuesday as the election results come trickling in, it may all be over by early evening, at least if Trump loses. That is the calculation of Citi’s Steven Englander, who determined that if Trump loses either Florida or North Carolina or Ohio “the math doesn’t work and it tells us that the shift to Trump was not as pronounced as feared.”
Those states close at 7:00 or 7:30 ET. As Citi adds, even if Trump loses by a little in one of these states, it becomes almost impossible for him to win. It would take a tidal wave in a couple of states that look firmly Democrat. Citi helpfully added that “the odds that he loses, say a Florida or North Carolina, but wins a Pennsylvania do not seem high” at which point “vol collapses, MXN rallies and we go home early.”
However, in a hint that tomorrow may be a very long night for traders – recall that Brexit was an all-nighter, which briefly saw ES halted limit down – the just released “no toss up” map from RCP based on the latest polling, shows Trump winning all three of these key states, and suddenly opening up the prospect not only for much more volatility, and yet another all-nighter, but potentially a Trump victory, something the market after today’s furious rally, is certainly not prepared for.
In any event, no matter the fate of these three states, here is a full preview of tomorrow’s election night.
The following chart from Morgan Stanley summarizes what times polls close for any given state as well as the number of electoral votes afforded to each:
As the FT observes, this year’s election is being fought hardest in 10 states: Arizona (11 electoral college votes), Colorado (9), Florida (29), Iowa (6), Nevada (6), New Hampshire (4), North Carolina (15), Ohio (18), Pennsylvania (20) and Virginia (13). Clinton starts with an advantage in the electoral college and can afford to lose traditional battlegrounds such as Florida and Ohio. But if that happens, falling short in states such as Pennsylvania and North Carolina could prove fatal to her presidential ambitions. On the other hand, as noted above, if Trump does not win in Florida and Ohio, his chances of victory will be non-existent. One key could be the size of the turnout of Latino voters in Arizona, Florida and Nevada, which have large Hispanic populations. Another could be whether African-American voters go to the polls at a high rate in North Carolina and Ohio.
Here are the key events by hour, and when traders will have to be particularly careful
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Time for the concession speeches?
In 2008 and 2012, John McCain and Mitt Romney each gave nationally televised concession speeches shortly after midnight eastern time.
But what if there is no winner by the end of the night? In the event that neither candidate gets to 270, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives will decide who the next president should be.
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What are the main factors to watch?
With polls showing voters having negative opinions of both major candidates, one of the key factors on election day could be the enthusiasm of their bases. If black, female, Latino and young voters do not turn out in significant numbers, it could represent a blow to the Clinton camp. Likewise, if white working class voters do not go to the polls in significant numbers it would hurt Mr Trump.
Turnout among African-American voters looks likely to be lower than it was in 2008 and 2012. But Trump’s provocative immigration policies mean a growing Hispanic electorate is expected to vote heavily against him.
What other races should I keep an eye on?
Americans will also be voting for 34 of the US Senate’s 100 seats and for all 435 seats in the House of Representatives. Twelve governorships are up for grabs this year. The big question beyond the presidency is what will happen in the Republican-controlled Congress. A good night for Democrats would see them win five seats and regain control of the Senate (four if Mrs Clinton wins as that would mean vice-president Tim Kaine would cast the deciding vote) while also whittling down the Republicans’ 30-seat majority in the 435-seat House. It is extremely unlikely Democrats will regain control of the House.
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Finally, here is Goldman’s own guide to election night:
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