Update: It’s 1:30 ET and the blogging day begins early, so I’m going to wrap here. The networks stubbornly refuse to call either Pennsylvania or Michigan but Trump is a near-lock in both states. He’s going to clinch 270 in the Rust Belt. Thanks to everyone for joining us this evening. Here’s a parting thought from Patrick Ruffini:

The Obama press conference tomorrow will be fun. It’s celebrity candidates all the way down for America going forward, I fear.

Update: Pat Toomey has won his Senate race in Pennsylvania after all, meaning that the GOP will retain control of the Senate — and Kelly Ayotte still has a chance to win in New Hampshire. Hard to see how Democrats could have performed worse tonight, at every level. Joe Heck lost in Nevada, so I guess that’s the answer. If he had pulled it out, it would have been a comprehensive Republican victory in battlegrounds.

Update: With 80 percent now reporting, Trump had moved to a lead of nearly two points in Michigan. I’m surprised, though, that Pennsylvania still hasn’t been called since his lead is expanding there too. The race is all but over. We’re just waiting for someone to make it official.

Update: A reminder: The soon-to-be president-elect is facing numerous lawsuits over his business dealings, and is set to defend himself in the Trump University fraud case in less than three weeks.

Update: At nearly 1 a.m. ET, with 77 percent reporting, Trump still leads in Michigan by 1.5 points. I don’t think it’s going to matter, though: Pennsylvania is almost entirely in and Trump has gained a 50,000-vote lead there. That state should be called before Michigan is, and that’ll be that.

Update: Five hours ago, it looked like the GOP would spend the rest of the year consumed with a civil war. Now it looks like it’ll be consumed with questions like this — which may be even more explosive:

Is McConnell going to nuke the Democratic filibuster to build Trump’s wall? How about if Trump wants to repeal NAFTA?

Update: Patrick Ruffini’s doing the math and concludes that, barring an unlikely Clinton upset in Arizona or Alaska(!), the best she can do now is 269 electoral votes, which would force a tie and a decision by the House.

Update: If you’re a #NeverTrumper despairing this evening, here’s something to perk you up from the NYT this past summer:

One day this past May, Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., reached out to a senior adviser to Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, who left the presidential race just a few weeks before. As a candidate, Kasich declared in March that Trump was “really not prepared to be president of the United States,” and the following month he took the highly unusual step of coordinating with his rival Senator Ted Cruz in an effort to deny Trump the nomination. But according to the Kasich adviser (who spoke only under the condition that he not be named), Donald Jr. wanted to make him an offer nonetheless: Did he have any interest in being the most powerful vice president in history?

When Kasich’s adviser asked how this would be the case, Donald Jr. explained that his father’s vice president would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy.

Then what, the adviser asked, would Trump be in charge of?

“Making America great again” was the casual reply.

Maybe we’re electing Shadow President Pence? Ah well. Sean Hannity spent the last three months preparing for defeat by insisting that #NeverTrumpers would “own” anything President Hillary does in office. That wasn’t fair, but that what his reasoning. That logic works the other way too, though. Sean gets to take credit now — or blame — for whatever President Trump does. It’ll be a fun four years, assuming there’s no nuclear war.

Update: At 12:22 ET, Pennsylvania is essentially tied and Clinton is within half a point of Trump in Michigan. A little late drama.

Update: The Trump era will begin with a stock market crash:

https://twitter.com/CNBCnow/status/796218291811418113

Update: And there’s the call for Trump in Iowa by CNN at nearly 12:15 ET. Trump is thisclose to winning if he can hang on in PA. Michigan might not even matter. As the president-elect might say, we need a temporary ban on data sites until we can figure out what’s going on.

Update: With 90 percent reporting, Trump now leads by 11,000 votes in Pennsylvania. The GOP’s Great White Whale might very well put him over the top.

Update: I don’t believe Iowa’s been called yet but Trump leads by 10 there with 82 percent reporting. You can bank that one too. Still waiting on Michigan and Pennsylvania, where Clinton’s lead is down to 5,000 votes with 89 percent in.

Update: Here’s a little vindication from Harry Enten of my suspicion earlier today that the media was overestimating the impact of Latino support for Hillary:

There’s going to be a lot of talk about white voters after the election, but looking at the exit polls, that’s not the full story. A big part of the story is that Clinton underperformed Obama with blacks and Hispanics. Clinton is winning only 88 percent of the black vote. Exit polls in 2012 had Obama at 93 percent. Clinton is only at 65 percent among Latinos. Obama won 71 percent of them.

Update: Nate Cohn of the Upshot is all but projecting that Clinton will win the national popular vote, which is going to make this odd wipeout even more bitter for the left. Not that a Trump presidency was ever going to be a placid time for America, but this will make it even less stable.

Another way to look at that is that the polls that predicted a Clinton win by three points … weren’t that far off. Except in the way that really matters.

Update: And there it is. At 11:37 ET, Fox News calls Wisconsin for Trump. The blue wall has cracked. Barring a Clinton upset in Arizona, basically any state left on the map will clinch the election for him — Michigan, Pennsylvania, or Nevada. That’s the very good news for Trump. The bad news is that Clinton is still clinging to a lead in PA and is behind by barely more than a point in MI. If she comes through to hold those states, we’re going to have a photo finish out west in Nevada and Arizona.

Er, what if it all comes down to Maine’s Second District?

Update: One strange thing about tonight’s results — apparently all the polls were off, and I don’t just mean the public polls. Clinton’s team seemed confident in victory; Trump’s team, as noted below, was whispering they needed a miracle. A few weeks ago I blogged a comment Trump’s data guy made that Team Trump’s models looked a lot like Nate Silver’s, and Silver always had Clinton the favorite. Even the LA Times poll, which will take a victory lap tomorrow, doesn’t seem to have it quite right. Hillary’s still favored to win the popular vote as I write this. The LAT saw Trump winning it by three points. Nothing makes sense.

Update: Here’s a thought.

That doesn’t even account for the hundreds of seats Republicans have won at the state level. The media will get to write their “demographic change swamps Republicans” storyline for an election eventually, but not just yet.

Update: A nice summary of the night in one county:

Nearly two-third of Wisconsin precincts have reported now, by the way, and Trump’s lead of 2.5 to 3 points looks stubborn. I wouldn’t be surprised if we get a call on that state soon. If we do, Hillary’s on the brink. Virtually any other state flipping to Trump will end it.

Update: A little electoral math. With Florida in the bank, Trump now has 215 electoral votes. He’ll win Georgia, I assume, which makes 231. He’ll also presumably win Iowa (237), Utah (243), and Arizona (254), although his early vote lead in AZ was apparently smaller than expected and there’s a large Latino minority there. Assuming he wins it, though, then Michigan alone would put him over the top. Wisconsin alone would get him to 264, with Nevada’s six electoral votes an alternate path to 270.

Update: The AP just called Florida for Trump. Do or die now for Hillary. She’s actually slightly closer to Trump in Michigan right now than she is in Wisconsin, where she trails by 3.4 points with 58 percent reporting.

Update: Harry Enten seems to think Wisconsin is going red: “Looking at the map of Wisconsin, Clinton is in big trouble. Much of the vote from Milwaukee is in, and Clinton is still down by nearly 3 percentage points statewide. If Trump wins here, Clinton is in big trouble nationally.” If that’s true, then basically every battleground state left on the board is must-win for Clinton — MI, PA, NV, and so forth.

Update: Here’s a new, not implausible map from Patrick Ruffini: Trump 316, Clinton 222. He’d have to sweep Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Nevada to do that, but there’s no reason to think he can’t right now. In fact, the data nerds seem more worried about PA than MI at the moment. Apparently most of the Democratic areas have already reported and Hillary’s lead is narrow.

Update: Checking in on Minnesota, with 40 percent reporting, Clinton leads by double digits — not at all what the exit poll suggested. Maybe it’ll tighten up? There have been some weird misses in the exit polling tonight.

Update: If you didn’t think America was already bitterly divided enough, try this on for size:

Update: Fox just called North Carolina for Trump, which means, oddly enough, that my predicted map from this afternoon is (probably) on target — for another hour or so. I had Hillary’s Rust Belt firewall holding, so unless she stages a big comeback in Wisconsin and Michigan, I’m going to miss too.

Update: More than half the precincts have reported in Wisconsin and Trump still leads there by nearly 3.5 points. He might not crack the blue firewall; he might shatter it by taking Wisconsin and Michigan. There’s an outside chance that Trump wins this election with enough electoral votes that he ends up not needing North Carolina after all. A sample:

The Upshot now has him at a 93 percent chance to win — but with Clinton still favored in the popular vote thanks to her blue-state margins.

Update: Fox has called Colorado for Hillary, who leads there by five points with nearly two-thirds reporting. It may be that the Latino minority there reinforced the blue wall for her. But that minority isn’t present in the same numbers in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania,

Update: And there it is. At 10:26, NBC calls Ohio for Trump.

Big night for the LA Times poll, huh? Among the many aftershocks of Trump winning, which will start tomorrow with a stock market dive, are a lot of “where did it all go wrong?” reflection pieces by pollsters.

Update: The Upshot now has Trump an 80 percent favorite. But maybe more significantly, Hillary Clinton’s Twitter account tweeted … this:

Update: With 40 percent, Trump is only narrowly ahead of Clinton now, 48/46.8. But here’s an encouraging sign: Against all odds, Ron Johnson may win his Senate seat after all despite looking hopeless against Russ Feingold for most of the election. If the GOP holds the Senate and Trump wins the White House, his coattails might have been the difference. He looked like an anchor around the party for months, but not today.

Update: This scenario, which seemed surreal for most of the year, not only seems possible but even likely right now. Imagine Obama contemplating this as his legacy:

Update: Iowa’s polls closed at 10 p.m. ET and results are coming in now. The exit poll suggests a comfortable win for Trump given his advantage with men. Clinton wins woman 53/40 but he wins men 57/34. More tellingly, perhaps, Clinton wins college grads by three points while Trump wins those without a degree by nine.

Update: Still early in Wisconsin — but with nearly 30 percent reporting, Trump’s up seven points there. There’s a nonzero chance right now that he sweeps the Rust Belt. Perspective from Nate Cohn:

Update: With two-thirds of precincts reporting, Trump still leads in Ohio by double digits. Unless Cleveland and Cincinnati are hoarding votes, it’s hard to see how Clinton comes back. And again, this would mean that Trump far outperformed the exit poll.

This map does look increasingly plausible — although note that Clinton could still win narrowly here, even with Florida and Michigan in Trump’s pocket, if she wins North Carolina and New Hampshire.

Update: Dow Futures are tanking as Trump edges closer to victory. He’s now a ~60 percent favorite to win in the Upshot forecast — although Clinton is still predicted to win the popular vote by nearly two points as of right now. How’s that for an outcome?

Update: To bring this all back to the original post, if Trump wins Florida and North Carolina and holds onto Georgia and Arizona, as expected, he’s at 235 electoral votes. If he wins Ohio, as seems very likely now, he’s at 253. Iowa, which he’s also likely to win, would make it 259. He could clinch a tie at that point by winning Minnesota or Wisconsin — or win the election outright by flipping Michigan or Pennsylvania. He’s that close.

Update: Trump is now 10 points ahead in Ohio with 61 percent reporting, suggesting that he’s way overperforming the exit polls. If that’s true, then what reason is there to think he went do the same in Minnesota and Michigan, where the exit polls are essentially tied?

With 20 percent reporting in Michigan, he’s up by four. Panic time at Hillary HQ.

Update: Some of the data sites now have Clinton and Trump as 50/50 favorites to win, or with Trump even slightly favored. Bet Democrats wish Comey had recommended charges against Hillary back in July after all, huh?

Update: It’s worth asking already: How many “hidden Trump voters” were out there after all? A few hours ago, a Trump advisor told CNN that they thought it would take a “miracle” for them to win tonight, suggesting that the turnout data they were looking at pointed to a Democratic victory. The only way they could have been that badly wrong is if a sizable number of Dems crossed over and voted for Trump.

Update: Here’s what the Minnesota exit poll looks like. If this is accurate, Minnesota(!) is a pure toss-up.

mn

As I write this, Trump is on the brink of winning Florida. Given that he seems to be overperforming everywhere, it’s getting hard to believe Clinton’s blue firewall will hold.

Update: Trump, by the way, is now seven points ahead in Ohio with 47 percent in. Either that race is going to tighten or the exit polls were way off.

Update: Here are the exit polls for Wisconsin, Michigan, and Colorado. If they’re accurate, Clinton should win pretty comfortably in Wisconsin and Colorado, but Michigan will be a cliffhanger. Trump leads among all age demographics there except the 18-29 group, where she leads by 23. If she hangs on, ironically, it may be Bernie voters who do it for her.

Update: We weren’t looking at Minnesota as a battleground, but…

Given Trump’s now-probable win in Florida plus the fact that Virginia and, apparently, Minnesota are surprisingly close, there’s every reason to think he could pull the upset and win tonight. It’s just a question of how wave-y his “rural wave” is.

Update: Trump has taken a razor-thin lead in Ohio at last, but only 37 percent of precincts are reporting. We should be getting Michigan etc exit polls at any moment, as it’s after 9 on the east coast.

Update: Nate Cohn comments: “This is going to be a late night, folks. Clinton is doing better in metropolitan areas than Obama had done, but not vastly better. Trump, on the other hand, is making very big gains in rural America.” That’s exactly what a Trump victory scenario calls for. We might have an interesting Rust Belt thread after all!

Update: A teaser to get you excited about Michigan:

Update: With a little over a third of the vote in, Clinton still leads in Ohio narrowly, 49/47. The Upshot’s forecast, however, still favors Trump slightly. We’ll have exit polls for Pennsylvania, Michigan, in Wisconsin at 9 p.m. ET.

Update: More good news for Trump via Nate Cohn. He’s performing strongly in rural counties, notwithstanding the early evidence in Indiana and Kentucky, which means Michigan and Pennsylvania could be tight. And right now, with 91 percent in, he’s leading in Florida — although with Democratic counties still to come.

Update: Some good news for the GOP downballot — NBC is forecasting that they’ll hold the House with 235 seats. Losing only 12 seats in a climate like this is a respectable showing. And there’s still an outside shot of holding the Senate.

Update: The Upshot’s model has Clinton a slight favorite to win Ohio right now. Team Hillary was bullish about the state in a memo it sent around today, pointing to high early-voting turnout in a Democratic county, but who knows if that was just a pep talk.

Update: And now bad news for Trump in a Romney county:

He was supposed to make inroads in Mahoning County, one that went heavily for Obama, but he’s not doing it. Needless to say, he’s got to have Ohio. As important as Florida is — and he’s in contention there at 8:20 ET — losing any state he’s “supposed” to win like OH would be a heavy blow.

Update: Hmmm. Clinton’s overperforming Obama in one Ohio county by 20 points. That may explain her early lead.

Update: The Democratic counties must be coming in first in Ohio. With 26 percent reporting, CNN had Hillary up by more than 10 points.

Update: The fingerpointing has begun…

Update: South Carolina was just called for Trump. Georgia is momentarily still on the board.

Update: Here are the full (preliminary) exits for Ohio. Trump leads by 15 among men while Clinton leads by 13 among women. If I’m doing the math right, the poll points to a … 47/47 race. Trump won whites both with and without a college degree, the former by 14 points, the latter by 21.

Update: Ohio’s looking pretty good for Trump if these exit poll numbers are right thanks to working-class white voters:

Obama won the state by three points.

Update: Ill tidings early:

It’s 7:30 ET, which means the polls are closed in Ohio. Follow the returns here. Rob Portman has already been called the winner of his Senate race, a remarkable rout in a toss-up state.

Update: By the way, The Upshot has a freaky cool live update page that gives you moment by moment forecasts on how each candidate should do in the popular vote and electoral college. Click and you’ll see what I mean.

Update A little good news for Trump out of Wisconsin: Republican sources see major turnout improvement in red counties over 2012. Can Clinton keep pace? On the other hand, I’m hearing that Trump spokesman Jason Miller was just on Fox News and was optimistic about various states except Wisconsin.

Update: It’s not clear what he’s looking at but Luntz thinks Hillary will win. Maybe it’s … this?

Update: At 7 p.m. ET, Trump has won Kentucky and Indiana and Clinton has won Vermont. Interestingly, South Carolina and Georgia are momentarily too close to call. Trump should win both, but if Georgia looks very tight it might presage a big night for Clinton. Early exit polls have the state … 48/47 for Trump.

Update: Further to my point below about the importance of Florida, Nate Silver ran the numbers to quantify how important the state is to each candidate. If Trump wins it, his odds of becoming president jump from 29 percent to 59 percent. If Clinton wins it, they go from 71 percent to 93 percent. It’d be like being four runs down in the bottom of the ninth, I’d guess. You can still win, technically — but, really, you’re not going to win.

Update: If you’re looking for tea leaves that may be more relevant than the exit polls, Sean Trende notes that Clinton is actually running ahead of Obama right now in many counties in Indiana. Trump will still win that state, but if working-class whites aren’t turning out in blockbuster numbers there, it may be that they’re not going to turn out in the numbers he needs elsewhere. Trende is predicting a “short night.”

Update: More Luntz. Florida had better come through.

Update: All early exit polls should be approached with skepticism (ask President John Kerry) but the data right now shows that nonwhite voters in Michigan are 23 percent of the overall electorate — matching 2012, when Obama won the state easily, and six points better than 2008. That’s what Hillary needs. Frank Luntz, who tweeted this morning that Michigan was looking good for Trump, has also backed away from that assessment this evening.

Update: Hard to believe we’d be seeing stuff like this early if Conway and company liked the numbers they were looking at.

***
Original post follows:

How much the midwest and mountain west matter this year depends, of course, on the outcome in the southeast. We’ll know what happened in Florida and North Carolina before we know what happened in Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado and probably Ohio. So let’s look at a map, with some assumptions in mind. Let’s assume Trump holds Arizona and Georgia, as most people expect, and let’s further assume Hillary holds Nevada and New Mexico. Where are we if Florida and North Carolina go her way?

We’re in the dumpster, that’s where.

1

That’s Clinton 263, Trump 191 with OH, MI, WI, IA, CO and PA still off the board. Any one of those states would singlehandedly put Hillary over the top. Trump would need to sweep all of them to get to 270 or else he’d have to pick off some other safe blue state we’ve already awarded to Hillary. That’s … an awfully heavy lift. I’m loath to say that this post doesn’t matter if Florida and North Carolina turn blue, but realistically it doesn’t. The Rust Belt results will be more a matter of tracking how far Hillary runs up the score than of whether Trump can put a crack in her blue-state firewall.

But what if Trump wins Florida and North Carolina, as I predicted he would? Then we have a ballgame: It’ll be Trump 235, Clinton 219 with OH, MI, WI, IA, and CO still on the board, as well as PA and NH. And remember: Trump is favored in Ohio and Iowa. Those states are technically part of the Democratic firewall since Obama won them twice, but the last poll of Iowa had Trump ahead by seven and he finished fairly comfortably ahead in the final polling average of Ohio at 3.5 points. FiveThirtyEight gives Trump better than 60 percent odds of winning each state. Throw those two into his column and he’s at 259. Flipping Wisconsin would clinch an electoral college tie at that point. Flipping Michigan would win him the presidency. Even if Hillary holds those two states, as she’s expected to do (her odds in each, per FiveThirtyEight, are between 78 and 84 percent), Trump could still win by flipping Colorado and taking either New Hampshire or Nevada. Prepare for high drama in this thread, is what I’m saying, if Florida and North Carolina end up in Trump’s column. That will open up all sorts of paths to victory for him through the Rust Belt. Clinton will have no margin for error.

And what if we get a split decision in Florida and North Carolina, with Clinton winning the former and Trump winning the latter? That gives you Clinton 248, Trump 206. Obviously, with Hillary needing just 22 electoral votes between PA, NH, MI, WI, and CO to clinch a national victory, the situation for Trump would be dire, if not quite as dire as the scenario where he loses both FL and NC. The basic fact of this election is that he can’t afford to lose Florida, pure and simple. Winning the state wouldn’t quite guarantee him a national victory, as my predicted map demonstrated earlier, but it would ensure a dramatic battle across the swing states late into the evening. Losing Florida, though, would mean he’d have to essentially sweep the Rust Belt, Pennsylvania included, to get to 270. In fact, if Trump loses Florida, then in virtually any realistic scenario he’d have to win at least two of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin to clinch the presidency. Winning even one would qualify as a major upset, but that wouldn’t be enough. That’s what he’s up against.

Here are your handy dandy Townhall/AP election result tickers for Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Colorado. Polls close in Ohio at 7:30 ET, so I’ll be focused on that state’s returns first. Michigan, Wisconsin, and Colorado don’t close until 9 p.m. and then Iowa closes at 10. Let’s hope we still have a competitive election by then. Updates will be featured at the top of the page, to make for easier scanning.