When to expect the election to be called, losing candidate to concede

The 2016 presidential election has seemingly dragged on, but everything will (hopefully) come to an end Tuesday night. Wondering when you can expect the election to be called and the losing candidate to concede?

We look at the concession patterns in the last three elections:

2004: Kerry concedes to Bush

The 2004 race between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat John Kerry came down to Ohio, which was too close to call despite a 140,000-vote lead for Bush. Kerry, hoping that uncounted provisional ballots might make him the winner, had decided early the next morning not to concede, according to a 2004 USA TODAY report.

After a night of watching the returns on TV, President Bush went to bed at 5 a.m. and got up two hours later. He and his political advisers still thought there was a good chance Kerry would fight the results in court. But at 11:02 a.m. on Wednesday Nov. 3, 2004, Kerry called Bush to concede when updated voting numbers in Ohio made it clear it was almost impossible for him to win the state, and therefore the election.

According to CNN, Kerry was a little more than an hour late for his scheduled 1 p.m. concession speech in Fanueil Hall in Boston. But the 2004 presidential bid ended around 2 p.m. with Kerry’s calls for a unified nation: “In an American election there are no losers because whether or not our candidates are successful, the next morning we all wake up as Americans.”

2008: McCain concedes to Obama

According USA TODAY’s coverage of the 2008 election, a win in California put Democrat Barack Obama over the top, giving him 55 electoral votes — enough to surpass the 270 needed to defeat Republican John McCain and claim the presidency. The former Illinois senator won key state after key state on Nov. 4, 2008, with victories in the battlegrounds of Ohio, Virginia, Florida and Pennsylvania being harbingers of the outcome.

At 11:03 p.m. CBS News estimated that Obama would be the next president of the United States, making history as the first black man to hold this office. They made the call before several key states were decided. But at 11:10 p.m., CBS estimated that Obama would win both Florida and Virginia, putting him at 323 in the Electoral College and counting with Colorado, Missouri and Indiana still out as big states.

McCain delivered his heartfelt concession speech shortly after 11:20 p.m., according to the CBS live blog. "It's natural, tonight, to feel some disappointment," McCain said  at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, flanked by running mate Sarah Palin, his wife, Cindy, and other family members. "But tomorrow, we must move beyond it and work together to get our country moving again." McCain appealed to all Americans to help Obama "find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences."

2012: Romney concedes to Obama

At 11:38 p.m. on Nov. 6, 2012, the Associated Press officially called Obama’s victory over Mitt Romney, based on the determination that he had won Colorado, thereby exceeding the necessary 270 electoral votes. According to AP’s timeline, Obama went on to win Wisconsin, Nevada and Virginia before Romney called him to concede at 12:49 a.m. the next day.

Just before 1 a.m., Romney delivered his concession speech to supporters in Boston. “I so wish that I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead the country in a different direction,” he said.

Around 1:40 a.m., Obama delivered his victory speech at a convention center in South Chicago. "Tonight in this election, you the American people reminded us that while our road has been hard, our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up," Obama told jubilant supporters. "For the United States of America, the best is yet to come."

PHOTOS: Election Day in America 2016



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