Here is a state-by-state guide to when polls close across the union (via All That’s Left):
And here are the key ones to look out for, again thanks to All That’s Left’s Jackie South:
Kentucky is probably a good bet for the first state to declare in past experience. At this stage, expect Virginia to be declared too close to call – in 2008, it took over another four hours for the result there to be declared.
Half an hour later, Ohio should be declared too close to call. This took another two hours to declare for Obama in 2008. West Virginia should take less long.
At 1am, there is a flood of polls closing. These tend to favour Obama. There are four states to watch: New Hampshire and Florida are classic swing states (although New Hampshire was able to declare for Obama at the close of poll in 2008) whilst Pennsylvania has been subject to a late assault by the Romney campaign to create an alternative route to 270 electoral college votes that does not require Ohio or Wisconsin. Finally, New Jersey should go for Obama but may throw a curveball as a result of hurricane Sandy.
At 1:30am GMT, two more states close their polls: swing state North Carolina (just won by Obama in 2008) and now solidly Republican Arkansas.
At 2am, we have the second great flood of polls closing, including big states like New York, Michigan and Texas. Colorado is the most in doubt here, but Wisconsin has also been a Republican target this time thanks to Paul Ryan and Michigan (where Romney grew up) could conceivably hold a disastrous set-back for Obama if things are going badly for him. Unless this is a real nail-biter, the outcome should be becoming clearer by now.
At 3am, we see polls close in the last two key swing states: Iowa and Nevada. If Obama has lost Virginia and Colorado but won Ohio, he will need to win one of these.
At 4am, Obama will get a big boost in numbers as the west coast polls close. Idaho will declare for Romney, but California and Hawaii will declare for Obama, and Oregon and Washington probably will too without being declared too close to call. Most of those that had been declared ‘too close to call’ previously should get announced in the next hour.
Finally, for the real troopers, Alaska will declare at 6am.
That is not the end: a number of close states will continue their counting. In 2008, it took over a week to finalise the result in Missouri. This time, the Show Me State should show us its result a bit quicker.
So there you have it; caffeine up, get comfy and prepare for another historic all-nighter. Worried you can’t stay awake? Yes you can…