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By: Greg Mitchell

3:00 A.M. ET

If you are actually up and reading this at 3 a.m. you must be one sick individual, like me.

Little has changed since 1 a.m. The networks that gave Ohio to Bush are holding firm and the others are holding out. The top newspaper sites are saying that the provisional ballots (unknown number) could still play a role. Dan Rather just quipped that it’s like in football, Bush has a first and goal at the one yard line but sometimes a team can’t run it in from there.

Still, it looks bad for Kerry, even though John Edwards just came out in Boston and gave a 77-second pep talk, saying they would fight for every vote. Bush’s margin in Ohio is up to 125,000 votes. To win, Kerry would have to do more than just put the provisionals in play, he would have to prove fraud or hanky panky, too.

The contest could still end in a 269-269 tie (at this ungodly hour) even if Bush gets Ohio, but then the House gives it to the Prez anyway.

With this I sign off for the night. If anyone is out there, I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know. Now, don’t forget to say your prayers, as Gen. Buck Turgidson said.

1:30 p.m. ET

Let it be recorded that Fox (surprise) called Ohio for Bush first and gave him the election, before 1 a.m. NBC followed a short while later.

But CBS would “Rather Not” for now, ditto for ABC and CNN. The New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today all refusing to give it to Bush. Frankly, calling it seems a little dangerous, since the Ohio Sec. of State was just on ABC saying that there are probably 180,000 provisional ballots in the state that can’t be counted for 11 days and Bush only leads by 100,000 or less right now. But maybe the Fox and NBC people know something.

Daschle still losing. GOP has locked up and even expanded Senate control, may have made gains in House, too.

12:20 p.m. ET

Your novice blogger is running out of gas, though Brokaw seems to still be going strong. He might be in better shape than Kerry right now.

But NBC has not given Florida to Bush yet, although CBS and some others have.

Kerry seems to trail by a fair margin in Ohio but Cleveland partly out and lot of absentees.

But Reuters (via Drudge) claims Bush has been told by aides that he has won Ohio, and thus re-election. Can’t see Dems giving up without a fight if it truly is a modest margin.

Zogby, who predicted fairly easy Kerry win in the electoral college earlier today seems to be taking it on the chin.

269-269 scenario still in play.

11:20 p.m. ET

Bush gets a battleground state, Colorado; Kerry gets Washington, at least on some networks. Nothing much settled.

Tom “The Exterminator” DeLay nails top Democrat Martin Front in Texas and probably picks up 3 other seats there, all due to shifty re-districting.

Jon Stewart signs off by showing electoral map awash in red, with pockets of blue states “where most of us here wwill be trying to stay the next four years,” he says.

Daschle losing by 800 votes.

MSNBC announces that, contrary to earlier reports, young people once again did NOT vote, about same lowly percentage as four years ago, with 30 to 44 group actually down. My son is 17, so don’t blame him. A liberal blogster complains, “this is what is killing us.” Also says, “Kerry needs surprises to win and doesn’t have any yet.”

11:00 p.m. ET

Finally a true battleground state goes somewhere, and it’s to Kerry. They just gave him Pennsylvania (where I spent many a vacation with my grandmother in Lock Haven as a merre lad. Pennsyltucky we called it. Who knows why.

But Bush leads by almost 300,000 in Florida. Despite its 1 million absentee ballots, it may be out of Kerry’s reach, i.e. his lawyers.

Jon Stewart just called this the tightest election in at least four years.

My sister-in-law in Ohio just reported massive vote turnout even in her little hometown. People voting and then hanging around to talk about voting. Incredible feeling of patriotism, she said.

10:40 p.m. ET

Still no shocks, but Kerry is not picking up any of plausible longshots, such as Arkansas, West Virginia and Missouri.

Bunning up by 18,000 with virtually all vote. “Wit” Hume just tried every which way to get Michael Barone (I was his editor at another magazine 25 years ago) to call it for Big Jim but everyone, even Fox, is being super-cautious tonight.

Russert brought out the chalkboard but it is electronic this year. His scribbles appear on a screen, so it has lost its charm.

Go Jets! There, now I feel better. Curtis, you da man.

10:15 p.m. ET

Still no damn surprises. Not a hell of a lot of laughs either, but then I have been avoiding the Beltway Boyz.

One thing looks fairly certain: if Kerry does win, he will probably still face a GOP Senate.

Lot of anti-gay marriage ballot measures seem to be passing.

Begala-Carville-Novak-Carlson all just went ballistic on news that officials in Florida (mainly Dade?) said 250,000 or more absentee ballots supposedly won’t be counted until Thursday. Carlson fell just short of calling for the death penalty for the officials responsible but said they should “at least” be arrested. Begala just thought it was “intersting” but Carville seemed to feel GOP behind it. On another news channel someone said the same deal in Broward, but there GOP thinks the absentees favor Bush…

Maybe Iowa will be the key. Someone. Anyone. Please make a call.

Looks like Florida may drift to Bush, making me look bad, as I had predicted the state for Kerry strictly on the basis of newspaper endorsements. But then, I am biased. For newspapers, that is.

9:30 p.m. ET:

Dan Rather said Bush was sweeping like a “thresher” across the South, or did he mean “thrasher”?

Still no surprises. The suspense is killing just about everyone.

Note to networks: stop saying voting is going remarkably smoothly almost everywhere without the expected problems. Web is alive with reports of all kinds of problems, protests, lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida…right, all the key states that may be fought over for days….but no prob, right? Both parties going to judges to get polls to stay open or shut down….

Bunning may be ahead now. No word on Daschle.

George Clooney’s father lost in race for House in Kentucky, I think. Woman who worked on “West Wing” also lost her race.

More hints of strong youth vote/Kerry vote.

9:00 p.m. ET:

Still no surprises in prez race, but early hopes for Dems in Virginia dashed.

GOP triumphs in Oklahoma Senate race, which Dems had hoped for. Bunning gaining in Kentucky but can he go 9 innings? Joe Trippi on MSNBC says if Bunning loses it is due to “the blogosphere” which rallied money to his opponent, which in turn got the national Dems interested. I have followed this race and this is true. Of course, I am now a blogger, so I am biased.

First time voters indeed breaking for Kerry. If he wins, could be a landmark and no one will ever be able to say again that young people NEVER turn out.

Russert about ready to get the chalkboard out to go thru scenarios. Has to be a new one, as the one from 2000, was donated to the Smithsonian.

8:30 p.m.:

Many more states awarded, no surprises yet.

Obama wins. A woman named Tenenbaum somehow making it a race in South Carolina Senate race. Bunning still trails. Anyone want that rookie card, 40 bucks?

New Jersey goes big for Kerry. Bill Schneider on CNN seems surprised that this state that suffered so in 9/11 would somehow believe that Bush (who has not caught Osama and went into Iraq instead) was not the best man to handle terrorism. Duh. Why is it that every single state most touched by 9/11 will thump Bush? Another loss for the pundits.

Exit polls show Kerry widening lead slightly in Ohio. Voters there demanding punch cards or paper ballots, or else will have to stand in line until midnight. If vote stays close, expect lawsuits up the wazoo.

8:00 p.m.

Oh boy, now it gets really serious with a ton of results coming our way. West Virginia just went for Bush. No surprises yet.

Dan, what is the frequency? Dan Rather just said on CBS that the results will soon get so plentiful and muddled that “we may need Billy Crystal to sort them out.” If anyone has any frigging idea what the hell he is talking about, send me an email (address below). Maybe he just wants Billy to come on and tell Kerry, “Johnny, you look mahvelous.”

Bunning still trailing in Kentucky. From Hall of Fame to Hall of Shame?

Big question: will they really keep polls open for two more hours in Ohio for all the people still standing in line?

7:45 p.m. ET:

Six polls close, three states go for Bush, Vermont for Kerry, but big surprise is that Virginia and South Carolina still up for grabs.

Sen. Jim Bunning appears to be in trouble in Kentucky. Since I have one of his baseball rookie cards (’57), I should be rooting for this Hall of Famer, but last week he said he never reads newspapers and gets all his news from Fox. No wonder he is in trouble.

Just now on Fox, someone said Bunning had made a number of gaffes, including saying that his opponent looked like one of Saddam Hussein’s sons. “Wit” Hume then said something about truth not being a defense in libel. What a joker.

Exit polls in Senate contests show Dems doing pretty well, including in key races in Florida nad Colorado, but Tom Daschle is in trouble.

Drudge now booms: “Enough with the exit polling. Count the votes!”

7:00 p.m. ET

Bill Schneider on CNN notes their exit polls show one in seven voters are new this year, again spelling bad news for Bush. Someone else says Dems worried about bad weather in Ohio holding down vote, which hasn’t come to pass.

New round of exit polls released and reported widely on “the internets.” Kerry stills holds 2 point lead in Florida and Ohio, 7 points in Pennsylvania, 4 points Michigan, 5 points Wisconsin, tied in Iowa.

Fox News commentators already look depressed. Cheer up fellas. Exit polls have been wrong before. And these seem to suggest a tightening now Besides, Kerry could exceed expectations in many states, and lose Ohio and Florida by 550 votes (it’s happened before), giving Bush the nod.

Let it be noted that I voted at 4:30 p.m. in Piermont, N.Y., even though our state is not “in play” in either the Prez or Senate race.

6:30 p.m ET:

A little glimmer of exit polls enter TV coverage, as reporter on MSNBC suggests GOP is fighting off “internet” reports of Kerry lead by saying they over-sampled for women (as noted below).

Also, Tom Brokaw makes between-the-lines reference to some exit reports being way off kilter, according to historical models, then mentions possibly high turnout for young people and those with only cell phones (can’t be reached by pollsters). Hint hint.

5:30 p.m. ET:

John Zogby at 5 o’clock released his projections based on his ultra-latest polls, predicting a relatively easy Kerry win in the electoral college even as Bush edges him in the popular vote.

Zogby, who was notoriously accurate in 2000, gives Kerry 311 electoral votes to Bush’s 213. If anything like this happens, and Bush does carry the popular vote, how can the president complain, after 2000?

Zogby calls Colorado and Nevada too close to call but gives nearly all the key battleground states to Kerry. Looks a little farfetched to me.

5:00 p.m. ET:

It’s an election year ritual: early in the afternoon all major news organizations get the results of exit polls and coyly refuse to release the results. This obviously doesn’t hold back the Web, especially in these blog rolling days. Matt Drudge used to have the field pretty much to himself, and indeed he had the first hint up today, about 2:00 pm, when he suggested in a headline that Kerry insiders were happy with the early numbers.

But now he has more competition, and numerous other bloggers, especially those leaning left, were happy to release full details, reputedly from Voter News Service, showing Kerry with leads in nearly every key battleground state, with some margins surprisingly wide (in Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Wisconsin) and others narrow (Ohio, Florida, Michigan).

At about 4 o’clock, Slate.com then weighed in with additional numbers, amid reports that women may have been somewhat over-sampled earlier. These figures still showed Kerry doing very well nearly everywhere but with only razor-close margins in Ohio, Florida and New Mexico. Shockingly, he was within striking distance in North Carolina.

Does this mean anything? The gamblers think so, as overseas betting lines quickly shifted from Bush to Kerry. What a world.

Liberal bloggers also noted huge turnouts in Kerry-friendly precincts, even above hopeful projections. Spin or win?

Come back and visit later for more postings, to be added at top.

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