What to watch for on Election Night

A narrow and then a more global point:

-- Watch the vote in the suburbs around Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio, and in northern Virginia. These are two early-closing states; if Romney is holding his own in the suburbs, we have a competitive night. If not, it could be effectively over before we get to the Central Time zone.

-- Who votes determines who wins: The composition of the electorate in the swing states is the first and best clue. Does the electorate look like 2008?

If so, then Obama is likely on a path to victory. But if the percentage of African-American, Latino and younger voters is down just a bit -- and the electorate looks, say, more like the 2004 presidential election -- then Romney has a shot.

CNN political director Mark Preston: What happens afterward?

It goes without saying that we are all looking at turnout in the key battleground states -- can Romney and Obama get their respective bases to show up at the polls and at the same time, convincing the independent voters to vote for them today?

What is piquing my interest is not only what happens in the next few hours but what will be the political climate for the next president-elect. Washington is already polarized and there are great challenges facing Congress before the end of the year.

Whoever wins the presidency and the parties that control the House and the Senate need to put the bitterness of this election behind them and work together.

The big question: Can they do that?

CNN political editor Paul Steinhauser: Can Romney broaden the electoral map?

This election will be won or lost in the battleground states. Or will it?

Mitt Romney's presidential campaign is making a last-minute push in two states that should be safe for Obama: Pennsylvania and Minnesota.

Romney campaigned in Pennsylvania on Sunday and goes back to the Keystone State on Election Day. Republican running mate Rep. Paul Ryan campaigned in Pennsylvania Saturday and in Minnesota on Sunday, and the campaign's up with ads in both states.

Is this a head fake by the Romney campaign, or do they see the tightening public opinion polls in both states as evidence they might be able to turn Pennsylvania and Minnesota from blue to red?

The Romney campaign says it's playing offense. The Obama campaign says the move is a sign of desperation by the Romney campaign. We'll find out who's right on election night.

™ & © 2012 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.
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