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Watching the election from abroad

A and I will be gathering around the TV tomorrow (Later today, US time), watching the election results with a group of friends. We’ll be checking out the live news coverage, and I’m sure there’ll be some laptops and smart phones out, with folks consulting electoral analysis sites like the intriguing FiveThirtyEight.com (Baseball stats-like analysis + politics = great reading).

There’ve been some intense discussions among our pals, though, about what time the results will be known. We’re 12 hours ahead of eastern time, so, we’ve been wondering, will we know who the next POTUS is by 9 a.m. tomorrow (Er, Tuesday night eastern time)? 10 a.m.? 11 a.m.?

Turns out that some news organizations might be calling the election by early as 8 a.m. Bangkok time (8 p.m. eastern). (You see how confusing this can get.)

NY Times: Networks May Call Race Before Voting Is Complete

At least one broadcast network and one Web site said Monday that they could foresee signaling to viewers early Tuesday evening which candidate appeared to have won the presidency, despite the unreliability of some early exit polls in the last presidential election.

A senior vice president of CBS News, Paul Friedman, said the prospects for Barack Obama or John McCain meeting the minimum threshold of electoral votes could be clear as soon as 8 p.m. — before polls in even New York and Rhode Island close, let alone those in Texas and California. At such a moment, determined from a combination of polling data and samples of actual votes, the network could share its preliminary projection with viewers, Mr. Friedman said.

“We could know Virginia at 7,” he said. “We could know Indiana before 8. We could know Florida at 8. We could know Pennsylvania at 8. We could know the whole story of the election with those results. We can’t be in this position of hiding our heads in the sand when the story is obvious.”

Similarly, the editor of the Web site Slate, David Plotz, said in an e-mail message that “if Obama is winning heavily,” he could see calling the race “sometime between 8 and 9.”

“Our readers are not stupid, and we shouldn’t engage in a weird Kabuki drama that pretends McCain could win California and thus the presidency,” Mr. Plotz wrote. “We will call it when a sensible person — not a TV news anchor who has to engage in a silly pretense about West Coast voters — would call it.”

(Emphasis mine.)

Bangkok friends and other readers abroad: How do you plan to follow the election news? Got any good Web sites to share? Let us know in the comments.

By Newley

Hi. I'm Newley Purnell. I cover technology and business for The Wall Street Journal. I use this site to share my stories and often blog about the books I'm reading, tech trends, sports, travel, and our dog Ginger. For updates, get my weekly email newsletter.

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