By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – You’ve followed the news, heard all the arguments and made a few yourself, fended off the worst of the sewage on Facebook and Twitter, and cast your vote. Now comes the best (or worst) of times – election night.

You’ve heard all the dire warnings about how, because of state-by-state differences in how and when they tabulate early votes, the outcome might not be decided for days or even weeks. We’ll see. Longtime Democratic political consultant James Carville was on cable TV recently predicting an early Biden knockout with the die cast before 11 p.m. Tuesday.

I’ll believe that when I see it. But in any case, here’s a guide to how the early evening will play out:

* At 7 p.m., polls close in Georgia. They start their early-vote count Tuesday morning, so by the 8-9 p.m. hour we should be getting some signs from there. Big Democratic margins in the suburbs around Atlanta (Gwinnett & Cobb counties) suggest a big night for Biden.

* At 7:30, North Carolina and Ohio close. They already started counting early votes so by 8:30 or so we should have some numbers out of there. Early leads are a good sign for whoever has one.

* At 8 p.m. polls close in Texas, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida. Michigan and Pennsylvania don’t pre-count early votes, so at best we might get some early-indicator county results by 9:30-10. Texas will likely take even longer to show anything. But Florida is expected to have nearly complete results before 11 p.m. If it isn’t close, we’ll know it. Then again, this is the home of Florida Man, so expect the unexpected.

* Arizona closes at 9 p.m. and that could be a big one, they are allowed to pre-count the early votes. Local experts out there are already calling it for Biden, but we’ll see.

* Massachusetts results won’t be complete for awhile – mail-in ballots can be accepted through Friday and won’t be counted until after 5 p.m. on Nov. 6. Still, they are allowed to count the early votes already received in advance.

Read: What’s On The Ballot In Massachusetts?

I expect the Associated Press to call the Massachusetts Senate race within minutes of the polls closing at 8 p.m. No disrespect intended to GOP nominee Kevin O’Connor, that’s just the way it is here in the bluest state.

The only local suspense will likely be ballot question 2, ranked-choice voting, where “yes” was leading narrowly in the most recent poll.

Question 1 looks like a “yes” runaway, so if the lurid “no on one” TV ads are to be believed, get ready to be stalked and hacked.

How will you navigate this stressful, historic moment?

May I respectfully suggest that you start by keeping your laptop, iPad or phone logged into CBSN Boston’s live local coverage to supplement the wall-to-wall national coverage on WBZ-TV? I’ll be joining Lisa Hughes, David Wade, Paula Ebben, Anaridis Rodriguez and the rest of the WBZ news team from 8-10 p.m., with the coverage switching to TV38 at 10 and WBZ at 11.

From 8-9 p.m. my guest analyst will be Rep. Joe Kennedy, who for years has travelled the country working on behalf of Democratic House candidates, with his perspective on what to watch for tonight and next year as well as analysis of any early results.

From 9-10 p.m. I’ll be joined by former State Rep. Geoff Diehl, the 2018 GOP nominee for U.S. Senate with a Republican perspective on early results and how the outcome might affect us here in Massachusetts.

And whatever you do, remember one thing. We’re all Americans.

Our country has gone through terrible times before – the Civil War, the Great Depression, two horrendous world wars, Vietnam, riots and assassinations – and survived. We will survive tonight’s outcome and this awful pandemic and move forward, haltingly perhaps, not without moments of anguish and despair. But we will endure and, ultimately, thrive, because we’re Americans, and that’s what we do.

Jon Keller


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