How to watch the Presidential election returns: a drunk viewer’s guide

As a service to you, the crap-reading public, I herein present the official 2012 Letters From Texas Guide to Watching Presidential Returns Come In, AKA the election night drinking game.

So without further adieu, here’s the deal: there are only a few battleground states left: Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Virginia, New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, and arguably, North Carolina. So they’re the states to watch.

They’ll be drinking too.

Assuming you’ve already voted by the time you get off work, congratulate yourself: have a drink. And when you get comfy in front of your TV, if you’re in Austin tune into YNN, where our Capital Tonight ongoing election night coverage will begin at 7 pm. The regular crowd – Paul Brown, Ted Delisi, Harvey Kronberg, and me – will be joined by the lovely and talented Scott Braddock.  Pour a bonus drink for that too.

By 6:30 pm central time (ALL times are central herein)  the polls will have closed in 9 states. Virginia closes at 6, and if the nets call it for Obama, consider it very good news: the state is tied in polling. Have a drink. If it goes for Romney, don’t sweat it. Ain’t no big thang.

North Carolina’s polls close at 6:30, and if they call it for Obama, have two drinks because it’s going to be an early night and Obama will win – the state leans heavily for Romney, and if Obama takes it – big trouble for Republican moose and squirrel.

Ohio also closes at 6:30, but I suspect returns won’t start coming in for a while (like, maybe December), nor do I think the exit polling will be very clear. But If Obama wins Ohio, then all he lacks is Florida, or Virginia plus Wisconsin, to win the election. Have a drink.

By 7:00 pm the polls in another 16 states will close, among them the aforementioned Florida, plus New Hampshire. Also closing at 7 is Massachusetts, so it’ll be time to start looking to see how Elizabeth Warren is faring in early returns. If she jumps out ahead, you know what to do: have a drink.

If the nets call Florida (which is tied/leaning Romney) for Obama, drink heavily, because Florida plus Ohio, or North Carolina, or Virginia,  and Obama wins the election. It’s almost impossible for Romney to win without Florida, or Ohio. Drink up.

By 8:00 pm the polls in another 14 states close, most notably Wisconsin, Colorado, and oh yeah Texas (this is actually a dirty trick – only El Paso closes at 8, but they get grumpy when we forget). Colorado is tied up, so if Obama takes it, drink. If Obama wins Wisconsin, and has already won Florida, drink heavily – he just won the election. If Obama loses Florida, but wins Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin, drink heavily – he just won the election that way instead.

By now, the only way you’re still playing this game is if Obama has lost Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina. If that happens, start drinking heavily in the other “oh crap” direction, and instead look for election results in Virginia, Wisconsin, and Colorado. If he wins all of those, plus one of  Iowa, Nevada, or New Hampshire – he wins the election anyway, without winning Florida, Ohio, or North Carolina. DRINK.

Now the obvvi[ous prob;lem here is that by now yourreee really ddrunk. But that’s nooot reallly my probren, iz itt?

Let’s back up and look at this another way: If you make the assumption that Romney will win North Carolina, and that Obama will win Ohio (which are two assumptions I am fairly comfortable making), here are the clearest paths to victory for each candidate:

Obama to win: must only win Florida. If he doesn’t win Florida, he can win Virginia and Wisconsin. Or he can win Wisconsin and Colorado. Or he can win Colorado and Iowa. Each is a winning combination.

Romney to win: must also win Florida, Virginia, Wisconsin, Colorado, and Iowa. There are other winning combinations for him, but they are completely tortured.

See how difficult the electoral map is looking for the Mittster? Drink heavily.

Is this helpful? Good – Buy me a drink.