Regardless of who you voted for, one good thing about the 2012 election was how early in the evening it was called. Pundits and voters alike could make it to bed by midnight on the east coast with the knowledge that their country's future was certain, even if they disagreed with the results. This year, however, poll watchers are likely in for a much longer night. The large number of toss-up states reflects the fact that many states may turn red this year, possibly enough to ensure a Donald Trump presidency.
Iowa, for example, tends to get an outsized amount of attention, given its relatively meager six electoral votes, because it hosts the first primary contests of the year. Trump leads Clinton by 7 points, according to a Des Moines Register poll released Saturday, and in several key demographics, including independent voters and those under 35. Obama won Iowa in both 2012 and 2008. Iowa may not be called quickly for Trump, though, since Clinton currently enjoys a reported advantage from successful early voting efforts.
Demographic problems plague Clinton in many Midwestern states. White voters without a college degree prefer Trump, it seems, and that bloc is a key group in several battleground states.
Take Ohio, for example, which has supported the winner of every presidential election since 1964. Like Iowa, Ohio has a large share of working-class whites who have previously voted Democrat. After a rocky summer with that demographic, including some poorly-phrased words by Clinton about the coal industry, an Ohio lifeblood, this group seems likelier than ever to break for Trump on Tuesday. However, a red Ohio is far from certain — Clinton has vastly superior get-out-the-vote resources and enjoys support in the state's major cities.
In its final election prediction map, the Los Angeles Times predicted the Buckeye State for Clinton. If Clinton does win Ohio, networks may call the race for her, since it would be extremely difficult (though, again, not impossible) for Trump to win without it.
The other perennial battleground state, Florida, has fair odds to go red, even though it went blue for Obama in 2012 and 2008. FiveThirtyEight has flipped Florida between both candidates frequently, but it and many other polling aggregators do not factor in the role of early voting, which has had massive turnout in the Sunshine State. The Washington Post reported that Hispanic voting has already surged in 2016. Hispanic voters overwhelmingly support Clinton; this voting bloc will likely help her in Nevada, as well.
The final blue state that may turn red this year is New Hampshire, another primary-season center of attention whose prominence in recent weeks is a testament to how close this election may be. Again, it could come down to ground game — Clinton volunteers reportedly knocked on the doors of an astounding 56 percent of likely voters last weekend, according to calculation by Time — but polls have been very inconclusive and the state could still go either way.
Ultimately, the election looks like it's going to be close. If it gets to the situation where Trump and Clinton tie and the Electoral College is deadlocked at 269 apiece, it could be good for Trump. That's because in such a scenario, the Republican-majority House of Representatives will decide the winner, one of many signs that all things are possible Tuesday night.