If you’re like me, you’re obsessively watching election results right now to see early predictions of which candidate has taken which state, but at the moment there’s not yet enough information from many states to be able to call a winner. When will “too early to call” states be called? In some states, people are still voting as we speak, and the final polls in the United States won’t close until 1 am EST (Those are in Alaska). I’ve got the info for the key states for you here, but long story short? It’s going to be a long night.
The key states for this election are spread all over the country, which means they’re in different time zones, so polling places close at different times, too. The general rule is that the further west you go, the later the polls are open. The first swing state to close its polls is Virginia, which ends voting at 7 pm EST, followed by North Carolina and Ohio, which close at 7:30 EST. FiveThirtyEight warns that the early vote in North Carolina tends to lean blue, so we might not have true results for the state until fairly late tonight. Then we have Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire, which are done by 8. Of course, it takes some time to tally votes. FiveThirtyEight reports that in 2012 and 2014, the count for Florida projected around 8 pm EST was fairly on par with the final results.
Later in the evening, Colorado, Wisconsin, and Michigan will close by 9 pm EST, followed by Iowa and Nevada at 10.
When will we know for sure? That depends on how close some of the results are, of course, but you'll want to start checking results by 11 pm EST. According to the BBC, that's right when the winner was confirmed in 2008, and in 2012, it was 11:15.