The TV drama and suspense in the presidential race between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain essentially could be over as early as 8:30 p.m. Tuesday or it could last through the early morning hours, according to TV analysts.
In one of the more enlightening pieces of analysis over the weekend, NBC political director Chuck Todd noted that the polls close by 7 p.m. in five states including Virginia, Indiana and Georgia.
Here's the conclusions I got from listening to Todd: If Sen. Obama was declared the winner in any of the traditional Republican states quickly, it would be the first indication that Sen. McCain is in as much trouble as the pre-Election polls have indicated.
At 7:30 p.m., the polls in Ohio and North Carolina close. If Sen. Obama quickly wins one or both, it would be a further indication that he will be the next president. If the races are too close to call that would be good news for Sen. McCain.
At 8 p.m. the polls in Pennsylvania, Florida and Missouri close. If Sen. McCain quickly loses Pennsylvania, Todd suggested that his chances diminish or may even end. If the races are too close to call, it would be good news for the underdog.
Of course, the networks are expected to be cautious in declaring a national winner since the 2000 debacle but viewers probably can tell how things are going by the demeanor and the code words used by their analysts.
-- Alan Pergament