2012 Presidential Election Results: An Hour-By-Hour Guide To Election Night

Viewers who want to watch the 2012 presidential election results live will have ample opportunities, but may have a long wait for all state polls to close.

Though the winner of the 2012 presidential election could likely be known when results from California are declared at 11 pm, the final presidential state polls won’t close until 1 am, when Alaska reports.

Here is a cheat sheet of what to 2012 presidential election results to watch for, with the schedule via The Associated Press:

7 pm: Polls close in six states, but none may be more important than Virginia, the first battleground state to report. The state’s 13 electoral votes likely won’t make or break the election, but could give insight onto what way the nation is pointing.

7:30 pm: This could be the end of the night for Mitt Romney, though not officially. Three states report now, including the all-important Ohio. Both candidates need Ohio’s electoral votes in order to win the election, and pundits believe the winner of the Buckeye State will carry the election.

Obama has taken a small but consistent lead in presidential polling in Ohio, and if the state is declared early for him it may be all but over for Mitt Romney. As The Associated Press notes, these presidential election results are the most important:

“Romney desperately needs Ohio; no Republican has won the presidency without it. Without Ohio, Romney would need victories in nearly all the remaining up-for-grabs states and he’d have to pick off key states now leaning Obama’s way, such as Wisconsin and Iowa. Obama has more work-arounds than Romney if he can’t claim Ohio.”

8 pm: Results come in from the District of Columbia and 16 states, including the 29 electoral votes from Florida. Romney has held onto a small lead in Florida throughout the campaign, but in just the last day presidential polls have shown Obama ahead. Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight now shows Obama with a razor-thin edge in the state.

8:30: Polls close in Alabama, which should be immediately declared for Mitt Romney.


8:30 p.m.: Polls close in Arkansas (six), where Romney is comfortably ahead in surveys.

9 pm: More action as polls close in 14 states, including pivotal swing states Colorado with its nine electoral votes and Wisconsin’s 10 notes. Wisconsin is seen by the Romney campaign as a possible upset state, one of the states he needs to pick up to keep his narrow path to victory alive.

10 pm: Polls close in four more states, including swing states Iowa and Nevada, each with six electoral votes. Both are leaning toward Obama, and victories in both combined with a win in Ohio and Wisconsin would all but ensure a re-election bid.

11 pm: Polls close in five states in the west, with an almost-guaranteed 78 electoral votes for President Obama from California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington. If all goes well in the swing states in the east and midwest, Obama could be declared the victor of the 2012 presidential election as the clock strikes 11.

1 am: The last of the 2012 presidential election results are in, with Romney nearly assured to take the three electoral votes from the final state, Alaska.