So…here it is.  Some people must feel this way anticipating the Super Bowl or the World Cup.  For me, it’s election night.

I’ll fire up the televisions that haven’t been out of their boxes in four years.  Connect the projector to one of the computers.  Since 2008, iPads have been added to the mix and there will be plenty of those lying around as well.

The fun will start early:

We should start seeing things by 6:00 pm (7:00 pm EST).  I suspect we won’t KNOW who wins, however, until sometime on Wednesday if then.  There’s a fair number of chances for recounts, lawsuits, etc. In fact, the post-election period promises to be almost as contentious as the fall campaign season has been.

As to who will win, I’m going with Obama.  No surprise there, of course, but – if you believe the polls – the conclusion is inescapable.  I very much agree with Nate Silver’s fact-based, logical analysis of the race.  If he’s wrong, then what you’ll see tomorrow is a true 1-in-8 longshot coming in. Not to say it doesn’t happen, it simply seems very unlikely at this point.

Here’s my bets:

Obama/Romney:  290-248 electoral votes, 50.1-48.9 popular vote.

Bellwethers: if they call Virginia or Florida or New Hampshire early for anybody, those are important indications of direction.  If Pennsylvania is too close to call for a long while (or goes for Romney) it’s a bad night for Obama.  If North Carolina stays uncalled, it’s a bad sign for Romney.

In the Midwest, we’re watching who gets Iowa.  In the mountain states, it’s Colorado.

Senate: Democrats retain a majority.  Maybe one party or the other picks up a seat, but the overall majority remains Democratic.  Warren wins in Massachusetts, McCaskill wins in Missouri, Donnelly wins in Indiana.  Here’s a good blow-by-blow if you’re interested.

House:  The GOP keeps the House, probably at roughly the same numbers.  Again, a good overview is here.

In other words, if my predictions are right, on Wednesday morning – assuming we’re done counting – the balance of power at the federal level will look a lot like it does now.

Here in the Land O’ Lakes, Senator Klobuchar wins by 30 points, maybe more.  Rick Nolan will make Chip Cravaack a one-term Congressman and we’ll still have Michelle Bachmann to embarrass us on the national stage as I expect Jim Graves’ challenge to fall short (but maybe not by much).  No changes in the rest of the Congressional delegation.  The marriage amendment fails and the voter ID amendment passes, but the latter will be much closer than polls have shown.

I don’t have a feel for the legislative races, but smarter people than me seem to think the Dems have a chance to reclaim the Senate majority.  I’ll go with that.

OK, that’s my predictions…what are yours?

– Austin