Tips, tricks and drinks all included
So you’re staying up to watch Clinton vs Trump finally meet on the electoral map of battle after what feels like the longest, and almost certainly, the most bitter presidential showdown of modern times? You’re in luck! It’s going to be TV event of the year.
The show will really kick off around 11pm but we’re not going to get a conclusive result until some time around 4.30am.
Get yourself nice and comfy. We’ll come to food and beverages (crucial) in a little bit but first let’s walk through this.
11pm: By the time you start down this long and winding path of sleep deprivation and delirium, you’ll already have some numbers to ponder: exit polls. These should be in by now and will provide you with an early indication as to how Americans felt as they cast their votes.
Some people will get a little ahead of themselves at this point (a lot of people took 2004’s exit polls as a sign that John Kerry was going to oust George W and how did that work out?)
It's close to midnight and something evil's lurking in the dark...
12am: When the polls close in the first batch of states, Donald Trump will hold an early advantage. Do not, I repeat, do not jump off the couch and head for the escape pod when the networks project Kentucky going for him.
If you want to get some real juicy numbers though, we’ll see some movement out of Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Virginia. The latter in particular will be a good indicator of how well Clinton’s lead is holding up in states that have been leaning Blue.
If there’s no significant lead there, you might raise an eyebrow. Settle down though. Conserve your energy. We have a long night ahead.
Polls close in North Carolina and Ohio. If Donald Trump can’t win these states; he’s not going to be President. Barack Obama won NC in 2008 and everyone remembers the huge lines of people in urban areas coming out to get behind him. If turnout in urban areas is even close to those levels, it bodes very well for Hillary Clinton.
Ohio though. Oh my, oh my, Ohio. The Buckeye State was the grandest prize of all in 2004 and 2012 and was the most hotly-contested state in the final weeks of campaigning.
It’s more winnable for Donald Trump than McCain and Romney because it’s where his America First message hits home the hardest - among blue collar workers who have seen local industry desert them.
Team Clinton will hope to offset that with strong turnout in the big cities like Cincinnati and Cleveland (where local hero LeBron James has backed the Democrat) so the swing counties like Hamilton could be decisive.
As results start to leak out of Ohio, you’ll get a good sense of exactly how resonant Make America Great Again is among working class white voters.
1am: Polls close in 12 states but only three really matter: Florida, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. This is firewall territory.
These ones could be pretty close so final results from each of them might take longer than usual.
What you need to know: Hillary Clinton is going to wash Trump in Miami. Latino voters are revved up and are going to vote in high numbers against the man who wants to build a wall with Mexico. Trump, on the other hand, is going to rack up numbers in the panhandle and rural areas.
Every four years, you’ll hear the phrase ‘I-4 corridor’ used by the experts. This is a potentially crucial strip of land between Miami and Orlando along a major highway. Keep an eye on results here. They could be crucial.
2am: We'll probably get a decent idea of what's going on across America at this point. The electoral maps will be dashed with pretty big swathes of red and blue and the next batch of states will be interesting. They constitute what used to be known as the Rust Belt.
They've been swing states for a number of election cycles but in more recent years, they've become a little blue. Obama's decision to bail out the auto industry played well in these spots, like Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Colorado is one Hillary Clinton will hope is a banker.
If the signs from elsewhere are positive for Trump, turning a couple - or even one - of these states will be big and would likely prompt mass panic in Hillary's camp and among a lot of people around the world.
Still with us?
3am: This is the hard part. You’ll be getting plenty more scores on the doors from the big states we mentioned previously but if you’re looking for something interesting to keep you occupied - keep an eye on Utah.
Yes, Utah. Evan McMullin, an anti-Trump Mormon former CIA operative, is actually pushing the Republican quite close here.
If he wins, he’d be the first third-party candidate to take some electoral college votes since 1968 and, in a set of circumstances just beyond the reaches of possibility, actually derail the entire election. But never mind that.
4am: Polls close in a few solid Republican and Democratic states here - California among them. At this point, the number crunching is really down to the business end. Donald Trump will probably know by now if he can win.
Hold fast. We’re getting there.
The time has come...
4.30 am: CALL IT. The US networks will make a projection about who will end up in the White House around this time and that’s never gone wrong. Nope, never!
What do I say if I want to sound like an expert?
GOTV stands for Get Out The Vote. It means initiatives used by either campaign at grassroots level to mobilise as many voters as possible and getting them to the polls. Now over the past few campaigns, the Democrats have owned this. They’ve dominated it. Interestingly, the Trump campaign hasn’t really bothered to address that deficit, claiming it won’t aid them. Interestingly, they’re actually working on stopping voters among certain demographics.
This works every single time but it’s especially true in 2016. If Hillary Clinton is going to win this thing she’s going to need to see long lines of voters in the key swing states like Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, and yes, that old chestnut, Florida.
If turnout is high, she is going to win the election. That’s the consensus. It’s why Republican groups are actively engaging in ‘voter suppression strategies’.
If you want to sound like the greatest person in the room, this is your key. Trust me.
The Firewall, in this case, refers to the number of swing states where Clinton has maintained a healthy lead over Trump. You’ll hear so much talk about Ohio, Florida, Iowa and North Carolina being swings states.
Hillary’s firewall of safer states mean she doesn’t even need to win any of them if she keeps hold of consisting of Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Michigan, Wisconsin, Virginia and Colorado.
So if she holds the firewall - she wins the Election.
*Bonus tip: For a trick shot, say “Hillary did well to GOTV and boost turnout in her firewall” and you’re all set. You are Toby Ziegler. Congratulations.
What do I eat and drink while watching a US Presidential Election?
Say no more, fam. Martha Stewart has your back.
Otherwise, get a serious box of donuts in. New donut places are springing up all over Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick at this point and even beyond that you’ll be able to sort something at the supermarket. Besides that? Guacamole. Nachos. More guacamole. It’s important.
In terms of beers, like this election, it’s a marathon rather than a sprint. With that in mind, go for craft beers from either of the two camps. Look for something from Brooklyn Brewery if you’re backing Clinton or Yuengling if you’re minded to go for Trump. If you don’t care for that level of hops, just seek out Pabst Blue Ribbon. If beer isn’t your thing… Try this.
It’s 3am and it’s getting a little boring, can we spice it up a little?
If you’re getting tired of the BBC, ITV or CNN coverage (you shouldn’t) keep flicking over to Fox News (available on Sky), and keep an eye on Karl Rove and Megyn Kelly. Rove, the brains behind George W Bush, infamously blew his top back in 2012 when Fox called Ohio for Obama.
Kelly, on the other hand, has been the US TV star of this election and has constantly come into conflict with the Trump campaign. Keep an eye out for a knowing smirk and some pointed observations from the traditionally conservative host, who has won herself so many new fans this year.
This is the 21st century - I’ll have my phone, iPad or laptop out. What should I be looking at?
Simplest suggestion: Twitter. Or Newstalk.com, of course. We will have a special election night show on air from 10pm-1am, and live coverage all night online.
If data is your thing, you’re going to want to follow the poll and forecasting wizards over at fivethirtyeight.com. Run by probably the only celebrity statistical superstar in the USA, Nate Silver, it’s a one stop shop for poll numbers and a data-driven look at how the race is shaping up.
So enjoy it. Savour it. Expect the unexpected. There’ll be tonnes to talk about in the morning (stay hydrated, don’t eat in the morning until about 11 and you’ll make it through the next day). I’ll see you in 4 years!
Newstalk will have live results coverage of the election starting at 10pm tonight on air with a special election show hosted by Richard Chambers, and live updates and analysis all night on Newstalk.com.
You can also follow along on Twitter @NewstalkFM.