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Presidential election: How soon will someone win so we can go to sleep? (+video)

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At 7:30 p.m., the polls close in Ohio. Do we even have to describe how important Ohio is to the calculations of both campaigns? It’s the state Obama has visited the most during the campaign, though there’s no truth to the rumor he’s had his middle name changed to “Columbus." If Ohio is called quickly for one candidate or the other, it could be a great portent of victory; that’s unlikely to happen, though, given the closeness of state polls and the large number of provisional ballots that Ohio election officials expect to wade through.

North Carolina polls close at 7:30, too. That’s a state that Mr. Romney should win, perhaps easily.

Eight o'clock is when things will really start to happen. If Dan Rather were still a network anchor, this is the time when he’d produce a colorful saying, such as “hang on to your armadillo and don’t forget the cheese dip, the hat’s really at the cleaners now!” Fifteen states ending voting at 8 EST, including Florida, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania.

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