Chris Cillizza puts together a handy cheat sheet for your evening of auto-refreshing county-by-county results in Michigan.
He suggests paying attention to Kent County (bastion of social conservatives and affluent business types that could make it tight), Macomb County (Reagan Democrat territory), Marquette County (Santorum played close attention to it on Sunday), Wayne County (best place for gauging how cross-over Dems might be affecting things), and finally Oakland County.
When asked to name five counties worth paying attention to tonight, one Republican operative said: “Oakland, Oakland, Oakland, Oakland and Oakland”. It’s that important — particularly to Romney’s chances of winning the state. Oakland is the wealthy Detroit suburb full of the sort of fiscally conservative, socially moderate Republicans that must be Romney voters — and in big numbers. There’s no debate about the fact that Romney will win Oakland but the size of that victory and what percentage of the statewide vote Oakland accounts for is critically important to his chances. In 2008, 28 percent of the overall vote came from Oakland County; one in every five people who voted for Romney came from Oakland.
One of the most exciting things about election nights are when county results start rolling in, and Michael Barone starts talking about how many 36 year old single fathers of two there are in the northwest neighborhood of County X, and why 18% higher turnout there by rush hour means that the 8 PM results for candidate Y will be .3% stronger; thus, tipping the election.