Who's winning? Here's how you'll be able to tell

12:37 PM, Nov 6, 2012   |    comments
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The political fortunes of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney could be determined today in little-known counties with names like Loudoun, Lucas and Larimer.

After 17 months and more than $2 billion spent crisscrossing the nation in search of votes, the two presidential candidates, their staffs and an army of journalists and political junkies will huddle tonight over county maps and precinct reports to gauge the voters' verdict.

It won't be New York, Chicago or Los Angeles that decides the election. Instead, swing counties such as Virginia's Loudoun, Ohio's Lucas and Colorado's Larimer will play outsized roles in picking the next president. (More on those places below.)

Today, turnout among Democrats' and Republicans' base voters will begin to tell the tale of the 2012 election. Turnout was above 65% in 10 swing states in 2008 and 61.6% overall, slightly higher than 2004.

Then the TV networks and other news organizations will begin releasing the results of "exit polls" taken outside polling places, which will shed light on the choices made by men and women, whites and minorities, young and old, urban and rural. More so than in the past, that information is likely to spill out on Twitter and other social media outlets.

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