WATCH | What time will you be able to hit the bars after the election is called.
After an election season that has driven us to drink you might be thinking about a little celebratory toast after the presidential election is called. If you are, make sure you don't make any plans before 10 p.m. Eastern (7 p.m. on the West Coast).
"The most critical hour is going to be around 9 -10 p.m. That's when you're going to have vote totals come in for all of these states that have already closed their polls," said Brandon Finnigan founder of Decision Desk HQ -- an organization that calls election results.
Even with a large win, you're going to have to wait several hours until after the first polls close.
Why you won't know the election results right away
There's a seven-hour difference between when polling stations close -- polls begin to close in Indiana at 6 p.m. ET and the last polls close in Alaska 1 a.m. ET.
Adding to the delay, the way states report results vary. A few states have the results available quickly online. If you want the results in other states you may have to wait for a fax.
"We have had results for certain states come in just mind-blowingly fast," Finnigan said. "Other states take a lot longer. Your New England states typically take longer because they have different system of how they count the votes and how they report them. It's a much more elaborate process."
What determines when they call the election?The race won't officially be called until one candidate gets 270 electoral votes. But you can start solidifying your drinking plans based on how the candidates are doing in the first states that report their election results. If Trump struggles in non-traditional swing states it could be a quick night.
"See how long it takes for the state of Indiana to be called so if that state isn't called by 7 p.m. Trump is already in trouble," according to Finnigan.
Once 8 p.m. rolls around you will begin to have more early indicators. "By the 8 p.m.-hour you have numbers from North Carolina coming in, Ohio coming in, Pennsylvania coming in," said Finnigan.
If the results aren't called by 8 p.m. look at certain counties. "In Ohio watch Hamilton county. In Pennsylvania, I would say watch Lehigh County, watch Bucks County. In the state of Florida, I would watch Duval County."
Those are counties Trump will need to be competitive in, or even win, if he has any shot at winning those states. And those are states Trump needs if he wants to be the next Commander-in-Chief.
If Trump falters in these counties? It could be a quick night.
"So this would be earlier than the last two elections," Finnigan said. "But not terribly early we're not talking about 1980 where NBC called it for Ronald Reagan around like 8:15"
Could it be a long night?
If Trump does well in states where Clinton is expected to win, it might not be such a quick night.
"If states that should be called or are expected to called rapidly for Hillary Clinton haven't been quite so rapidly called for her yet like say Virginia... that could mean that they both are in the actual hunt-- we're looking at a closer national race than what we are expecting."
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