Bad news so far
Kerry is definitely doing worse than the exit polls suggested. However, it’s very hard to tell what’s going on with partial counts. None of the US networks appear to do the kind of matched-precinct counts that are standard in Australia, so the results may reflect the fact that rural and suburban votes are counted faster. In addition, there were large numbers of prepoll votes and the very limited evidence that came out suggested they were heavily Democratic. It appears these votes are counted after all the others, but no-one seems to be quite clear about this.
Of course, it’s a tight race but it appears that the networks have been burned by their experience in 2000 and are unwilling to take the chance of making a premature call. So we may be waiting a while. This is not good for me, as I have to write a column about the economic challenges facing the winner (they are huge!)
Update 2:30Well, I’ve written the “Bush wins” version. Unless something startling happens with the prepoll votes, Bush is safe in Florida. That means, if I’ve worked out the rules correctly, that Kerry has to come from behind in both Ohio and Wisconsin to win. Not impossible, but a long shot at this stage.
Further update 2:52 Kerry is now leading in Wisconsin. If he wins in Ohio (still against the odds), it will be on absentee and pre-poll ballots, which implies a gigantic legal bunfight for the second time running.
Yet further update 4:05 Most pundits are calling Ohio for Bush, though his lead has narrowed in the last half hour. Just in case, I’ve written my “Kerry wins” piece, which is very pessimistic about the prospects for a Kerry Administration (see post above this one).
Final update 5:36 Premature calls. Now I’m working on the “cliffhanger” version. Even with Ohio, where Kerry hasn’t conceded, Bush is still one vote short according to MSNBC. I assume he’ll win at least one of New Mexico and Nevada, which will bring it all back to Ohio. I still can’t see Kerry winning, but I wouldn’t concede either in his position.