As with everything from the Politico mill, Burns’s guide is heavy on confidence, soothsaying, and the future; it’s a guide for those wondering if Hillary will make a run in 2020.

This vote isn’t just about 2010. About a dozen important presidential swing states are electing new governors, with potentially serious implications for Obama’s reelection prospects. Strong governors mean strong state parties, and strong state parties mean a strong political machine to help national candidates.

The biggest battlegrounds still within reach for Democrats are Florida and Ohio, where a new set of polls since the weekend has shown both gubernatorial races effectively tied. Winning either could be a real help to Obama in 2012. Losing both might be disastrous.

If you like Google Earth…

USA Today offers a geographical bent. John Fritze’s report is notable for its detail in getting into the nitty gritty of local races that you should keep an eye on. Rather than suggesting we watch Indiana’s 9th, we are treated to a detailed explanation of why we should. And we learn:

Republicans narrowly captured this seat in 2004, when the GOP expanded its majority. Democratic Rep. Baron Hill, a centrist, took it back in 2006, when his party regained control. This year, the outcome will provide some early insight into how well Republicans will fare.

“If the results come in and Hill gets trounced, than you’re thinking a pretty high-number wave for Republicans,” says Gerald Wright, a political scientist at Indiana University, which is in the district. Hill took 58% of the vote in 2008. Republican presidential candidate John McCain narrowly won the district that year.

Home to Milan High School, whose 1954 basketball team inspired the movie Hoosiers, the district includes suburbs west of Cincinnati and north of Louisville. What to watch: The margins in Clark and Floyd counties, just across the Ohio River from Louisville, likely will decide who wins.

The level of local detail is typical of Fritze’s impressive report.

If you won your office’s Oscar pool…

McClatchy has the best news for those East Coast politicos determined to get their full night’s sleep. David Lightman and Steven Thomma declare early in their guide: “Between 9 and 10 p.m., it should become clear which party will control the next Congress.” It’s an astute hour-by-hour guide, heavy on polls, and quotes (Larry Sabato gets his nose in). But the best thing McClatchy does is publish this “Races to Watch in Congress” cutout for those who treat their politics like they do their Kentucky derbies:










The idea is to tick off results a they come in. But why not make a bit of an office pool out of it, Oscars style? Will you be your workplace’s Chuck Todd—and rake in some cash?

As someone who will be sitting through tonight’s coverage, anything to alleviate the pain is welcome.

Joel Meares is a former CJR assistant editor.