Chris Graham: How to follow tonight’s Virginia election scoreboard

Elections are like sports; there are scoreboards in both. And so it is that Election Night is the super bowl for the politicognescenti.

Democrat vs. Republican on whiteHow will tonight’s Super Bowl go in Virginia?

We know how it ends. Terry McAuliffe, Ralph Northam and Mark Obenshain will be the big winners. As in a football game, that won’t be immediately obvious.

In Virginia, the poll results come in early for Republicans. Southside, Southwest, the Shenandoah Valley and the conservative Richmond suburbs and exurbs report first, making it an uncomfortable night until about 9:30, 9:45 for Democrats at their Election Night Super Bowl parties. Don’t be surprised to see Ken Cuccinelli in the lead in the reported numbers early on, and perhaps as late as when we see 35, 40 percent of precincts reporting.

Indeed, if Cuccinelli is behind early, the drama might be whether or not tonight turns into a Democratic whitewash along the lines of the landslide GOP wins in 2009.

Around 9:45 to 10ish, the Northern Virginia numbers will start rolling in, and that’s when things will turn to the Democrats’ favor. Cuccinelli, if he is going to pull off the upset tonight, is going to need to have a five- or six-point lead at 10 p.m. to have any chance.

Obenshain may need to have a 10-point lead at 10 p.m. to be able to eke out the win I am projecting for him. That’s how much of a bounce NoVa tends to give Democrats.

Think of it, again, like football. Republicans have the lead at halftime, Democrats rally in the second half, and when it’s all over, you won’t remember who was winning in the first and second quarter, just who won in the end.