As we head into the 10 p.m. hour, several things are clear. The presidency is nip and tuck, while the Senate is a mild disaster for the Republicans.
North Carolina is close, but Mitt Romney leads narrowly. Florida looks like 2000, going down to the wire as the Panhandle and South Florida cancel each other out, leaving the I-4 corridor to perhaps decide the race.
Then there is Ohio. It’s going to be close, with Lake County (a bellwether) nearly a dead heat. Hamilton County (another bellwether) has yet to count beyond the early-voting returns. The importance of Ohio cannot be overestimated, given that Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Hampshire and Wisconsin have been called for President Obama.
Romney has a road to the presidency, a narrow one that runs from Florida to Virginia and then Colorado or Iowa. Iowa and Colorado were considered strong for Romney. So once again, Ohio may determine the presidency. (Iowa and Nevada remain too close to call.)
As for the Senate, Republicans have lost Massachusetts, Florida, Indiana, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Maine and Ohio. That puts Republicans down three seats with Virginia, Montana, North Dakota and Missouri left to save an otherwise terrible evening for conservative Senate candidates. As in 2010 when Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell took gettable seats into losing territory, Republicans let swing states slip away. Candidate selection continues to bedevil the GOP.
We know the race will come down to close margins in a few states. A divided country will choose its president by a small margin. It’s not going to be a lopsided victory for either side. At this point, each side would take a win — even by a narrow margin.